Cracked and broken sidewalks are among the most common causes of accidents, and the resulting injuries can be more serious than people may realize. Municipalities and some property owners have an obligation to maintain sidewalks by keeping them free of unreasonable dangers. If you or someone you love has been hurt because of an issue with a public sidewalk, it’s in your best interest to consider your legal options for seeking compensation. The personal injury attorneys of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. are ready to advise you.
Who is responsible for sidewalk injuries?
Generally municipalities, like cities, towns or counties, have the duty to maintain public sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition. To hold municipalities responsible for an unsafe condition, proof is usually required to show the municipality had notice, in some cases written notice, of the defect or created it. In other situation, municipalities have passed laws giving adjoining property owners the duty to maintain public sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition.
Some property owners are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining public sidewalks that are adjacent to their properties. That means not only fixing uneven, cracked, and broken sidewalks, but, in some cases, removing ice, snow, and debris that may cause injury. Failure to do so could expose the responsible property owner to a personal injury lawsuit. More specifically, these actions are known as premises liability cases.
Defective sidewalk injuries are often serious. A slip and fall or trip over a sidewalk hazard could leave a pedestrian with:
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Internal organ damage
A serious enough injury might cause a victim to be unable to work for some period of time, perhaps even permanently, costing significant sums of money in earnings, bonuses, and other benefits. That’s on top of other damages, such as pain and suffering.
Steps you should take after a sidewalk injury
If you’ve been hurt on a public sidewalk, taking quick action is essential to protecting your health and your rights. The first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. Call 911 to get police to the scene and summon emergency medical assistance. Failure to see a doctor could aggravate your injuries and make it more difficult to obtain compensation.
Also, if you are able, take as many pictures and/or videos of the defective sidewalk as you can. This should be done as soon as possible after your accident. Property owners have been known to hastily repair a sidewalk the moment an injured pedestrian leaves, destroying evidence and making it far more difficult to seek damages. Don’t allow the owner to do this by neglecting to document the accident scene.
You should also make personal notes about the details surrounding your accident. These include:
- Date and time of the accident
- The nature of your injuries (with pictures and video)
- The property address of the defective sidewalk
- The name of the business, if there is one at the location
- Specific information about the defect itself
The more information you can remember, the better. But you should write this down early so you don’t forget. If there were any witnesses in the vicinity of your accident, talk to them about what they saw. Get their names and contact information so you can reach out to them later.
Take Action Now To Protect Your Rights
Lastly, speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Your lawyer should have experience with New York laws concerning sidewalk accidents and premises liability. Our firm represents victims of cracked, broken, and otherwise hazardous public sidewalks. We understand what it takes to build a compelling case and demand an amount of money that fairly compensates our clients.
When property owners fail to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner, we go to work. Give Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. a call today.