Sidewalks were first designed two centuries ago as a means of keeping pedestrians safe from street traffic and to protect women’s long skirts from mud and horse manure. Now, centuries later, no one expects to suffer an injury from a fall on a sidewalk, but uneven, cracked, or broken sidewalks cause people to trip and fall or slip and fall every day. Outside of urban areas, pedestrians may experience a fall when walking or cycling on roadsides with dangerous potholes or cracked pavement. Many injury victims who’ve been harmed due to poorly maintained sidewalks or roadways may wonder who is liable for the damages they’ve experienced after their fall.
Falls are one of the greatest causes of injuries in the United States with, nearly 8 million fall-related injuries requiring hospital treatment every year. In Connecticut, liability laws for sidewalk falls can become complex depending on whether the at-fault party is a property owner or a government agency.
Who is Liable for a Sidewalk Injury in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, determining liability for a sidewalk injury can be challenging. In most cases, a property owner is responsible for promptly addressing hazards on the portion of a sidewalk immediately bordering their property, whether it’s a commercial property or a private home. The state’s ordinance 96.04 states that property owners must remove obstructions and promptly address damage by placing warning signs until such time as they can make repairs through a licensed curb contractor. If the owner fails to contract a timely repair job, the state may make repairs and place a lien on the property until the owner repays the total cost of repairs.
Roadway maintenance is the responsibility of local government entities. If a road’s state of disrepair causes an individual to fall and sustain injuries, the local government is liable for damages.
When is the Municipality Liable for Sidewalk and Roadway Falls?
Connecticut’s liability law is also confusing because it may be different in some municipalities. Some Connecticut communities have not taken formal action to assign liability to individual property owners so the local government bears liability for slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents that occur on sidewalks as well as on roadways where no sidewalks exist and pedestrians use the shoulder of the road for walking.
Proving Negligence and Liability for Sidewalk Accidents
When a property owner or a government entity should reasonably have known about an unsafe condition and taken prompt action to address it, yet failed to do so in a timely manner, they can be held liable for damages. Proving Liability requires showing the following points of liability on the part of the responsible party:
That the property owner or government entity had a duty of care to take reasonable action to prevent injury such as placing warning signs or caution tape around broken areas of the sidewalk while promptly contracting a licensed curb repair agency to correct the safety hazard
That the party at fault breached their duty by acting negligently
That the negligence directly caused a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injury
That the injury caused the fall-victim significant economic and non-economic damages
What Damages Can I Recover in an Uneven Sidewalk Accident?
Fall injuries can cause serious injuries, including debilitating and dangerous hip injuries in the elderly, head injuries and/or fractures, and soft tissue damage in people of all ages. These injuries quickly become expensive when they require significant medical treatment. A successful claim against the appropriate liable party can help a fall victim recover the following damages:
Medical expenses and possible future medical expenses related to the injury
Pain and suffering
If you were injured in a preventable fall accident due to a poorly maintained sidewalk or street, you deserve compensation for your damages. Contact us today.