Our beautiful city, the city of Philadelphia, has a rich history that dates back to the very origin of the country. Sadly, many of the sidewalks throughout the city are in such disrepair that they appear to be almost as old as the city itself. Every year, thousands of people are injured when they slip, trip, and fall on sidewalks – on the crumbling, uneven, and cracked hazards that could have, and should have, been repaired.
Our firm has successfully represented hundreds of clients who were injured when they fell on a sidewalk that was not properly maintained. In the city of Philadelphia, there are several parties that are responsible for maintaining sidewalks.
What Is The Difference Between a Public and Private Sidewalk?
Victims of falls and other injuries resulting from improper sidewalk maintenance often ask themselves “Are sidewalks public property?” This is because the property owner or entity responsible for the sidewalk is understood to hold responsibility for its upkeep and ultimately could be considered negligent when the lack of the same leads to a pedestrian’s injury.
However, not all sidewalks are the same, which means the potentially negligent party can be different depending on where the sidewalk is located.
A public sidewalk is a sidewalk that runs in front of your house, close to the road. There may be a strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road which is an easier way to tell (though this is not always the case). This is considered a pedestrian pathway and therefore sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of your city, township or other local body. They are responsible for keeping that sidewalk in good repair and making sure that it doesn’t pose any serious hazard to people that may be walking on it. It’s important to note that absolutely anyone is legally able to walk on this sidewalk because it does not belong to you.
If there is a problem with a public sidewalk anyone can report the problem and the city will need to arrange the repairs. If the city has been notified and they do not remediate the issue within a reasonable period of time, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur because of the hazard.
A private sidewalk is generally located on the side of a house or it separates two parts of private property, such as a walkway from the public sidewalk to a front door. It may also lead from the backyard to the front yard or from a driveway to another door.
These private sidewalks are the property owner’s responsibility. If someone is injured while walking on these sidewalks because they are in poor shape it may possible to hold the property owner liable for the injuries sustained.
One exception to the private sidewalk rules is when the sidewalk is on property that belongs to a subdivision or an apartment complex. In these instances, the organization that owns the apartment or the homeowners’ society for the subdivision is responsible for these private sidewalks in the same way that the city is responsible for public ones. Once more, if the property owners have been notified of the damage to the sidewalk and have done nothing to repair it, they will then be responsible for any harm that comes as a result.
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What Legal Options Are Available For Slip & Fall Victims?
If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident on a sidewalk, you may be able to pursue legal action against the negligent party.
Questions that will be considered when determining if a victim has a case include:
- Was the hazard that resulted in the accident there long enough that the responsible party should have known about it?
- Were there warning signs placed around the hazard?
- Could a barrier have been created, rerouting pedestrians around the hazard?
- Were any attempts made to fix the hazard?
By filing a complaint, plaintiffs are given the opportunity to recover compensation for their:
In many cases, the injuries that a victim sustains are serious enough that in order to properly heal, they need to take time off of work. If work days are taken off due to an injury, the plaintiff can request they be compensated for the money that they would have made during that time.
Any money that the victim has had to pay in order to receive proper medical care may be recovered by the plaintiff.
Pain And Suffering
If the injuries that are sustained by the victim are disfiguring, permanent, and / or career ending, it is possible that they may be able to recover additional non-monetary damages for that loss.
If I Pursue A Claim Do I Need To Go To Trial?
While we prepare every case for trial from the beginning, the majority of cases do not end up in court. Many times, our clients recover their compensation through a settlement.
If the case does go to trial, you can rest easy knowing that we will do everything within our power to prepare you.