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Who Is Liable for Injuries from Unsafe Sidewalks?

Who Is Liable for Injuries from Unsafe Sidewalks?

March 23, 2018
By Bary Gassman

Sidewalks that are cracked, uneven, and slippery cause thousands of slip and fall accidents every year and when injuries occur, property owners or city governments can be held liable for damages if negligence can be proven. Generally, a property owner is responsible for making sure his/her property is safe from known risks of harm or injury to other people on the property. If a property owner is aware of hazardous conditions on the property that can cause injury, and does nothing to fix them, he/she may face liability for personal injuries in a civil lawsuit. Ignoring potential dangers on the property may constitute negligent behavior on the part of the property owner and may result in a cause of action brought by a slip and fall lawyer in Illinois.

Determining Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident Claim

To determine negligence and liability in a slip and fall claim, the law considers whether the property owner kept up the property with regular repairs and maintenance efforts and whether the property is maintained in a clean and sanitary manner. If a dangerous sidewalk falls under the property owner’s care, he/she must make regular efforts to repair and maintain the sidewalk to prevent injuries. In Chicago, snow and ice often create slippery sidewalks during winter months. City ordinances place responsibilities on property owners to shovel snow and get rid of icy conditions within a reasonable time frame. Failing to comply with city ordinances can result in liability for slip and fall injuries on the property.

When unsafe sidewalks are public property, liability for slip and fall injuries usually falls on city governments, depending on local statutes and ordinances. In some locations, public sidewalk maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the city, while in other locations responsibility falls on the adjacent property owner.

To hold a property owner or city government liable for personal injuries caused by a slip and fall accident, negligence must be proven. In many slip and fall accidents, the injured person contributes to his or her own injury by not paying attention to walking or concentrating on outside distractions. In such cases, the rules of “comparative negligence” may be used to determine the percentage of fault between the injured party and the property owner.

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