Just like a movie theater staircase or a hotel lobby, a public sidewalk must be maintained for safety by whoever is responsible for the property it runs through. In a residential neighborhood, this would be a homeowner. On a rental property, the responsible party would be the landlord or owner. In a downtown area, it could either be the owner of the store behind the sidewalk or the municipality, depending on local ordinances. However, if you suffered serious injuries in a fall on a sidewalk, you probably don’t care who is responsible. You just want them held accountable. The premises liability attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas will investigate your case to determine who—if anyone—can be held responsible for compensating you for your injury.
Sidewalk Claims Are Not Easy to Prove
Like any other slip and fall claim, it is up to the injured party to prove that the property owner was negligent in creating or allowing a hazardous situation. Potentially dangerous conditions include:
- Uneven concrete blocks
- Loose bricks
- Cracks or holes in concrete
- Unsecured grates or manhole covers
- Slippery or bumpy mats outside storefronts
- Buckling from tree roots
- Debris from trees, construction, or overflowing garbage
- Snow and ice
However, the existence of one of these hazards in itself is not enough to warrant a liability claim. In addition to proving that the dangerous condition existed, you must also prove the following:
- The property owner either caused the condition, knew about the danger, or should have known about it.
- The property owner failed to remove the hazard in a timely manner or failed to warn customers about it.
- The danger was not open or obvious.
- You sustained injuries as a direct result of the fall caused by the hazard.
For example, if you are walking in front of a store before it is open on the morning after a snowfall, the store owner is likely not liable for your injuries if you slip because they did not yet know about the danger and did not have time to remove it. If you trip on a raised sidewalk block while collecting your mail in an apartment complex, however, you might have a premises liability claim because the landlord should have known about the danger and should have fixed it or put up a warning sign.
Mahaney & Pappas Will Be Straight With You
Premises liability claims—particularly those involving public sidewalks or parking lots—can be difficult to win. At Mahaney & Pappas, we take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay us unless we win your claim. Once we hear the details of your case, we will be open and honest about your chances. If we don’t think you have a legitimate chance at success, we will tell you. Whether you are a local resident or a visitor to Massachusetts, our team in Framingham is standing by to help.