Winter is upon us, and with it, so too are slippery, wet sidewalks. People have to be much more careful when walking during this time of year in order to avoid a slip and fall accident. Home and business owners also need to ensure that they take appropriate measures in order to maintain the safety of their property.
If someone slips and falls on the sidewalk in front of your home, you may worry about whether or not you can be held liable for any damages they sustain. Premise liability cases like this can be challenging, as it must be proven that the property owner was negligent in order for there to be a solid case.
Here is what you need to know about whether or not you can be held liable if someone slips and falls on the sidewalk that goes by your property. If ever you have any specific questions, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney about your unique situation.
Who Is Responsible For Maintaining Sidewalks?
Failure to reasonably maintain property so that it is safe could result in liability. Bear in mind that when it comes to sidewalks, different states have different laws, and sometimes, these laws are unclear.
Depending on where you live, the entity that is responsible for maintaining sidewalks varies. In some states, the municipality is responsible for maintaining sidewalks. In others, the property owner is. In still others, it could be both. Whether or not the sidewalk is public or private also plays a role in who is responsible for maintenance. Sometimes, property owners may assume that the municipality is responsible for maintaining sidewalks, when it’s actually the property owner’s responsibility.
It’s important to look up your local laws and ordinances in order to know who is responsible for maintaining your sidewalk.
If Someone Slips And Falls On Your Sidewalk, Are You Liable?
Liability is complex. In order to be held liable for a slip and fall accident, it must be proven that you were negligent in your responsibilities to maintain a safe environment.
In order to be proven negligent, you must have been responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and you must have known or responsibly been expected to have known about hazardous conditions.
Conditions Concerning Liability In Sidewalk Slips And Falls
Just because someone slipped and fell on your sidewalk does not automatically mean that you can be held liable for any damages they sustain. For instance, if there is an active snowstorm or it has only been a few hours since a snowstorm passed, it is less likely that you can be held liable for natural accumulations of snow and ice on your sidewalk.
However, whoever is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk must follow local ordinances in order to remove the snow and ice in a reasonable amount of time. Failure to do so can result in liability in the event of a slip and fall accident. Snow and ice should be cleared from sidewalks in a reasonable amount of time.
You may also be held liable if ice formed on the sidewalk as a result of a hazard that you created, such as if a downspout directed water onto the sidewalk and the water froze.
People who are walking on sidewalks also have a responsibility to avoid open and obvious hazards. If a sidewalk is clearly icy and there are alternative pathways, the injured party may be responsible for the accident that occurred. Just as property owners have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment, people have a duty to avoid open, obvious hazards. Exposing oneself to known risks could result in being responsible for any damages that one sustains.
In short, whether or not you can be held liable if someone slips and falls on your sidewalks depends on the circumstances of the accident.
Slip And Fall Attorneys In Ogden, UT
Kaufman, Nichols, & Kaufman provides legal services for personal injury cases, as well as criminal cases, family law cases, and more. If you have been injured in a slip and fall case, we can provide legal counsel and representation. Premise liability cases like this can be very complex. If you have any questions or you want to know whether or not you have a solid case, consult with us today.