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Who is responsible if you trip and fall on a sidewalk?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Personal Injury

You’re out for a jog when you trip and fall on a broken section of the sidewalk. It could be jutting upward, having been pushed by the roots of a nearby tree. It may just be cracked or in poor repair. Either way, it’s enough of a tripping hazard that you fall down on your jog.

Unfortunately, you wind up with fairly serious injuries. You break your ankle and your head strikes the pavement, leaving you with a mild brain injury. You need medical treatment, and now you’re wondering who is responsible. Is it just a fluke or is someone else liable for your injuries?

Cities have the legal responsibility

In Washington state, the Supreme Court has already ruled on how these types of cases should be handled. In most situations, the responsibility for public sidewalks lies with the city or municipality. Sidewalks are not owned by homeowners, in most cases, and so it is the local government that should maintain the sidewalks.

There are some exceptions to this rule, in terms of liability. Most commonly, a property owner may be responsible for injuries if they caused the hazardous conditions. If the sidewalk simply wore down over time or was damaged by weather conditions, that is not the property owner’s fault. But if they were doing something intentional, like using a jackhammer while working in their yard, and they damaged the sidewalk and caused you to trip, then they may be responsible.

This means that every injury case is unique. You can see how important it is to know what legal steps to take and where to seek financial compensation.