Pedestrian Accidents Caused By Hazardous Sidewalks in Georgia
Officials in Atlanta estimate that about 25 percent of the sidewalks in the city are full of sidewalk trip hazards and require repairs or replacement. And the problems with sidewalks are not limited to Atlanta – even right here in Georgia, defective sidewalks decrease walkability of our neighborhoods and create tripping hazards. A hazardous sidewalk in Georgia can cause serious injuries to the head, neck, hands, ankles, and other parts of the body.
What kind of hazards lead to pedestrian injuries?
A number of sidewalk trip hazards can lead to falls on city sidewalks or along rural roads where there are no sidewalks for pedestrians. Most commonly, these include:
- Uneven pavement
- Ice and snow
Who is responsible for repairing hazardous sidewalks?
Responsibility to repair or replace sidewalks can be complex. If an entity, such as a restaurant, funds and privately installs a walkway, the property owner is responsible for its upkeep. But in other cases, it is the municipal government that is responsible for upkeep.
In Duluth, for example, the Public Works Department Street Division is responsible for maintaining streets and repairing sidewalks. Georgia’s Traffic Operations and Maintenance division is responsible for maintaining county roads and sidewalks.
Further, some cities, like Atlanta, make adjacent property owners — whether they are businesses or individuals — responsible for the sidewalks that border their property. Over the years, however, this law has proved to be unenforceable and a major reason behind the poor condition of many of the city’s walkways. In 2015, officials passed a new law that made way for municipal budget allocations to fix city sidewalks, but property owners may still be responsible for sidewalk upkeep as well.
Issues regarding liability can be complex. Victims of accidents need to identify who is responsible for sidewalk upkeep where they were injured and then take the appropriate steps to file a claim. Work with John Morrison to identify liable parties and take action to get compensation for the damages you suffered.
Is the government immune from liability for a sidewalk-related accident?
The government does enjoy immunity from liability in some cases, but there are exceptions. And city and county governments must uphold the same standards as private owners for sidewalk and property maintenance and hazard repair. In order to prove liability in a premises liability case, you will need to show that:
- A hazard existed
- The defendant knew of the hazard or should have known of it
- The defendant did not take corrective action to repair the hazard
- The claimant suffered damages
However, to file a claim against the government, claimants need to follow special rules.
For instance, anybody who wishes to sue a county must given written notice within 12 months of the accident. And anybody who wishes to sue a municipality like a city must give written notice within six months of the accident. Failure to do so could result in the claim being barred.
And although some cities like Atlanta make it the property owner’s responsibility to maintain sidewalks adjacent to their property, cities have paid settlements to people injured by sidewalk hazards. In 2012, a blind man received a $3 million settlement against the city of Atlanta after he tripped and fell on a city sidewalk.
Clear up any issues regarding liability, statutes of limitations, notice of claims, damages, and more by setting up a consultation with John Morrison about the details of your case. Contact the Law Offices of John Morrison today at 770-951-8900.