Everyday people use sidewalks while traveling to work, stores and school. However, should someone slip and fall on a ill-maintained sidewalk, that victim may seek compensation in a court of law for their injuries.
Recently, a gaping sinkhole measuring 10 to 20 feet deep developed along a Massachusetts sidewalk. The sinkhole was formed when a sewer line collapsed, causing the sidewalk to buckle in. The broken sidewalk is located near an area high school. Fortunately, no one has yet been injured by the sinkhole.
Although no one was harmed in this incident, a broken sidewalk could pose a serious threat should someone slip and fall. When this happens, the victim may seek compensation for their injuries. In some states, cities and municipalities are immune from lawsuits. However, in other states this is not the case, and cities and municipalities are charged with the responsibility of maintaining sidewalks in good repair. The failure to repair sidewalks that are aged or broken could result in a lawsuit, should someone be injured while walking on them.
In addition, there are circumstances in which a property owner may be liable for accidents caused by broken sidewalks on their premises. For example, property owners are charged with ensuring private sidewalks on their property are kept in safe conditions. And even if the sidewalk is a public sidewalk, the property owner may be liable if the sidewalk is used almost exclusively to service the property owner, such as a sidewalk that is used primarily by customers entering a store.
People injured by inadequately maintained sidewalks may be able to bring a lawsuit against the city or property owner. Any compensation received from such a suit could provide the victim with the financial resources necessary to recover from the incident.
Source: ABC40 News WGGB “Sinkhole Opens Up Under Holyoke Sidewalk,” March 13, 2013
Massachusetts law holds property owners liable for maintaining their buildings. Property owners are responsible for maintaining a safe and injury-free environment. To ensure this, homeowners, homeowner associations and businesses are responsible for clearing ice and snow from their sidewalks.
The Inspectional Services Department oversees Boston’s snow-removal rules. According to the commissioner of the department, residents are responsible for their property. If each person helps to clear the snow, it will help prevent accidents. He cautioned residents not to push the ice or snow onto the streets, as it is illegal.
Property owners are also required to clear the area close to the sidewalk, which is at least 42 inches wide. They are required to clear ice and snow within three hours of the ending of a snowstorm. If the storm ends at night, property owners must clear the path within three hours of sunrise. The Inspectional Services Department said that it had received over 600 complaints in connection with icy sidewalks and almost 350 complaints for inadequately cleared sidewalks.
Officials also noted that icy sidewalks may pose a lot of danger to pedestrians. If a person slips on an icy sidewalk, the person may sustain serious injuries. Such accidents may also prove fatal for the victim.
A person injured in a slip-and-fall accident may need medical care and rehabilitation. The person may also undergo pain and suffering due to the fall. The injured person may file a claim against the property owners for compensation, as the liability of maintaining the property, and hence for the accident, rests on the owners. An injured fall victim may claim compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Knowledge of the applicable laws and the assistance of a legal professional may help accident victims pursue a successful claim for damages.
Source: Boston.com, “Boston issues 6,900 parking tickets, tows 650 cars, hands out at least $25,650 in snow removal fines,” Matt Rocheleau, Feb. 12, 2013