When a person trips on an uneven sidewalk, it can be more than just an embarrassing moment. A broken or uneven sidewalk can lead to severe injury. In some situations, the trip-and-fall may cause a person to fall on a car and damage the vehicle.
Who pays for the medical bills and property damage in this situation? Sidewalk owners have a legal obligation to keep their sidewalks safe for public use. Depending on what caused your fall and where the incident occurred, you may have a potential premises liability case on your hands.
If you have experienced an injury or damaged someone’s property after tripping and falling on an uneven sidewalk, a lawyer can help you explore your options for compensation. Judd Shaw Injury Law offers free initial case evaluations so you can get legal advice without any cost or obligation.
Common Causes of Uneven Sidewalks
Incredibly, abrupt surface edges as low as three-eighths of an inch have been found to be serious walkway hazards that cause trips and falls. Unfortunately, uneven sidewalks can happen without even direct misconduct on the part of the liable party; even nature itself can play a part.
A sidewalk may become broken, cracked, or uneven due to:
- Poor maintenance: If a property owner failed to properly maintain the sidewalk, cracks or potholes may develop
- Tree roots: Tree roots tend to grow under sidewalks, causing structural damage to the foundation of the sidewalk; as the roots grow, they may push the concrete slabs up, causing cracks and holes in the sidewalk
- Erosion: Over time, water, wind, and other elements can erode a sidewalk to the point where the concrete slabs are cracked, loose, or even missing
- Cheap repairs: A property owner may try to save money using cheap materials, such as asphalt, to repair the sidewalk causing the surface to become uneven
- Defective hardware: Sidewalks often have grates, cellar doors, manhole covers, gas caps, and other objects embedded in them that are not properly maintained
- Construction sites: Sidewalks along construction sites are often full of holes, uneven, and dangerous
Who Is Liable for a Trip-and-Fall Accident Involving an Uneven Sidewalk?
Victims of slip-and-falls on someone else’s property have the right to file a premises liability lawsuit for damages, because property owners have a legal obligation to keep their property reasonably safe. Typically, this obligation extends to the owners of sidewalks.
Liability in cases involving sidewalks will depend on if the trip-and-fall happened in front of a business, private home, or city-owned property:
- Business owners: When business owners fail to keep their sidewalks free from hazards and someone falls and is injured as a result, the business owner can be held liable for damages
- Private residences: Liability in sidewalk accident cases involving private residences can vary depending on the state; in many situations, the city (not the homeowner) is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk
- Public property: The local municipality is responsible for maintaining most city sidewalks and clearly marking construction zones, so if a slip-and-fall occurs on public property, a lawsuit can be filed against the city
Who Is Liable If a Trip-and-Fall Uneven Sidewalk Accident Damages a Car?
You should be able to walk on the sidewalk without worrying that you could suffer serious injuries due to unsafe conditions. Unfortunately, sidewalks are not always maintained as they should be.
In some situations, a person may slip and fall on a sidewalk and fall on a parked vehicle, suffering harm and causing damage to the car. In such a case, who pays for the damaged vehicle? Liability will depend on where and how the accident occurred.
If the incident occurred on a business-owned sidewalk, the business owner may be responsible for all damages. If the slip-and-fall took place on public property, though, the city may have to pay for damages. The owner of the car may also choose to simply file a claim with his or her insurance company for damages.
With many potentially liable parties involved, trip-and-fall cases involving property damage can be complex. A skilled Judd Shaw personal injury lawyer, though, is well-equipped to investigate your claim, identify who is liable, and protect your legal rights.
Steps to Take Following a Trip-and-Fall Uneven Sidewalk Accident
The steps you take after a trip-and-fall sidewalk accident can mean the difference between you having to pay out-of-pocket for expenses or you being able to recover compensation for damages.
Consider taking the following actions following a slip-and-fall or any sidewalk accident:
- Seek medical attention. Your top priority after the incident should be receiving medical attention, which has a two-fold benefit. This ensures that you are on your best path to a healthy recovery and ensures your injuries are documented from the beginning.
- Photograph the scene. If possible, take photos and a video to document the area where you fell. Include pictures of the sidewalk conditions, your injuries, and damage to the vehicle you fell onto.
- Speak to eyewitnesses. Exchange contact information with anyone who was an eyewitness to your accident. Your slip-and-fall accident lawyer can follow up with them later.
- Inform the property owners. Inform the owner of the sidewalk and the vehicle owner of the accident. If you are unable to locate the vehicle’s owner, you can leave a note with your contact information on the windshield.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. Consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will inform you of your rights and also warn you of the things not to do that could hurt your claim.
Compensation Available for Sidewalk Accident Claims
A personal injury attorney can help you determine the types of damages you may be eligible to recover following a trip-and-fall sidewalk accident.
You may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills: If you were injured in the accident, you could be compensated for past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages: A trip-and-fall injury may be so severe that you are unable to return to work for a period of time, but you may be entitled to compensation for income lost while you are recovering
- Property damage: If a vehicle or other property was damaged as a result of the trip-and-fall, these damages may be included in the claim
- Pain and suffering: This is compensation for the emotional and physical pain you have endured as a result of the incident
Time Limits on Sidewalk Accident Claims
It is important to note that there is a time limit on all premises liability claims. The length of time you have to file a claim will depend on the statute of limitations in the state you live in. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations on premises liability claims is 2 years.
However, in many sidewalk accident cases, the city is responsible. Typically, there is a very short window of time to file a claim for accidents involving municipal property. In some situations, a claim may need to be filed within 90 days from when the slip-and-fall occurred.
Don’t wait too long! You could lose out on your right to compensation.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation Today
If you or a loved one have tripped and fallen due to an uneven sidewalk and damaged a vehicle, contact Judd Shaw Injury Law today. Choosing the right law firm to represent you can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
We have successfully handled many sidewalk accident cases and will do everything we can to ensure you get the best possible recovery. When we take on your case, we will be committed to you, your family, and the fair compensation you need. That’s just part of our sticking to our core values.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. Call us 24/7 at 1-866-909-6894 or complete the free case review form.