At first blush, sidewalk injuries don’t sound very likely. After all, the whole point of the sidewalk is to keep pedestrians safely out of the flow of traffic.
In truth, however, poorly maintained, constructed, and designed sidewalks lead to serious injuries each year. When a local government fails to provide a proper walking surface, it’s easy for individuals to trip, fall, and break bones. Further, those broken surfaces cause serious bicycle wrecks. Sometimes, sidewalk injuries cause permanent disability.
Liability for a sidewalk injury often belongs to city government, because pursuant to state law, each city is responsible for providing both safe city roadways and safe city sidewalks. Unfortunately, in recent years, some cities have tried to shirk this responsibility by passing ordinances that require homeowners to keep the sidewalk in front of their homes safe. These ordinances have met with only limited success, however, and in most cases, the city is still deemed responsible for a sidewalk injury. Of course, a trusted attorney will be able to tell you whether or not your case is credible.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a sidewalk trip and fall or a sidewalk bicycle crash, the first thing to do is get medical care. Once you’re sure the injured person’s condition is stable, talk to The Stoddard Firm.
The Broken Sidewalk Problems Plaguing Atlanta
There are plenty of examples of how these sidewalk injuries happen. One article from the Saporta Report highlights the challenges of Atlanta residents who rely on wheelchairs. The piece specifically references the area surrounding the Shepherd Center, though its worth noting that these problems are common across the city. Cracked, broken surfaces, poorly marked crosswalks and inaccessible sidewalks are just a few of the many obstacles around the city.
One advocacy group says that the backlog of repairs needed to fix Atlanta’s broken sidewalks would cost more than $200 million. The city has placed some of those costs on people who own property adjacent to the busted sidewalks, which has only added to the anger felt by many residents. While the city has done far too little to address the problem, the conditions of the sidewalks keep deteriorating, further placing all road users at risk for serious injury. Until the City of Atlanta chooses to properly repair its city sidewalk, the poor conditions will continue.
What are the Causes of Sidewalk Injuries?
In general, sidewalk injuries are caused by poorly maintained sidewalks, but there are several other causes that can often contribute to sidewalk injuries.
Cracks in the pavement, potholes, uneven pavement, and other problems with the construction of the sidewalk can often contribute to trip and fall injuries. Other factors, such as improperly installed storm water sewer grates can cause bicycle tires to get stuck resulting in a serious bicycle wreck injuries.
In addition, careless planning or poor care and maintenance can contribute to a serious injury. This can happen when large plants (especially trees) extend their roots into the sidewalk area. Poorly planned or laid-out sidewalks can be a cause of injury, as can poor construction—such as uneven pavement. In all these cases, a sidewalk injury can (and often will) occur.
What Types of Injuries Occur?
Sidewalk injuries have the potential to be extremely serious in nature. Broken bones are not uncommon, leading to an emergency room trip at best and open reduction internal fixation surgeries or permanent disability at worst. Some of the bones most likely to be broken in a sidewalk injury include the hip, the femur, and the bones of the wrists, arms, and shoulders.
In addition, it is not unheard of for individuals to suffer serious spinal and skull injuries as a result of a sidewalk trip and fall. These can range from relatively minor concussions all the way up to skull fractures and permanent damage to the spinal cord. This type of injury can be permanently disabling, and in addition it can create catastrophic medical costs far beyond the means of most families.
Who is Responsible for Sidewalk Injuries?
If you’ve been injured on the sidewalk, the first question is whether anyone is liable for it. In a personal injury case, your lawyer must be able to prove that some party had a responsibility to take reasonable care of the sidewalk, that the responsible party knew or should have known of a sidewalk problem, and that the responsibility party failed to fix that problem.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured through someone else’s neglect or negligence, you should first seek medical attention. You should also make sure you contact authorities. The Stoddard Firm has years of experience handling injuries, and we even offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call us or contact us online today.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have a case?
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you could have a personal injury case. Every situation is different, so there’s no way to know if you have a case without consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney. If you are badly injured or a loved one has died, we are happy to speak with you and investigate the matter at no charge.
How do I pick the right attorney?
You’ll want to look for several qualities when choosing who will represent you. Your attorney should meet with you instead of sending an investigator, and he/she should be available throughout the process instead of having you consistently talk to a legal assistant. Your attorney should have a low number of cases so he/she can devote significant time to you and your case. Your attorney should have experience handling cases with facts similar to yours, and your attorney should have a proven track record with similar claims. Your attorney should also be able to devote significant money to your case so that he/she can hire experts, travel the country finding witnesses, and depose whomever is necessary to achieve justice. It’s also important to make sure your attorney is the right fit on a personal level, which is why you should take advantage of a free consultation.
What do I need to bring with me to the consultation?
For your free consultation, bring all relevant documents that you’ve collected regarding your case. If there are police reports, bills or correspondence from insurance companies, you’ll want to bring those items to the consultation so an attorney can learn as much about your case as possible.
How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?
There is a time limit on how long a person has after an injury to begin a lawsuit. This window is called a statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases in Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years from the time the injury was suffered. However, there are exceptions and subtleties that might change the amount of time you are afforded. Sometimes the period can be as short as 6 months, and other times it can be much longer than two years. Determining the statute of limitations requires a detailed analysis of the facts of your case.
What do your services cost?
A consultation with the Stoddard Law Firm is free. In most circumstances, we earn no fee unless we win your case. If your claim is successful, we take a percentage of the recovered amount.
What has to be proven in a premises liability case?
A successful premises liability claim must show that a hazardous condition exposed you to an unreasonable risk of harm and that the property owner failed to exercise reasonable care to maintain a safe premises. Common examples include slippery floors, unstable structures, broken handrails, stairs not built to code, scalding apartment shower water, natural gas explosions, electrical shocks, and improperly fenced swimming pools. There are several factors that can make or break a case, which is why it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the situation.
How is negligent security different from premises liability?
Negligent security is a type of premises liability. These claims arise when a person is assaulted on someone else’s property by a third-party. Owners of apartment complexes, hotels, gas stations, and other retail establishments can sometimes be held liable if their inadequate security practices contributed to the attack. Such practices include failure to warn of prior crimes, inadequate lighting, broken access gates, broken locks, and failure to provide security guards.
How can an attorney help me?
Whether your injury was mild or severe, proving fault for premises liability can be a complex process. The standard of care owed by the property owner is made up of many factors and, in some cases, the hazardous conditions may no longer exist. A skilled premises liability attorney knows how to gather and preserve the necessary evidence – and how to defend you against accusations that you should have known about the dangerous condition.
How do I choose an attorney?
There are a lot of lawyers out there, so it’s important to select one that you feel comfortable with and who inspires confidence. Choose one who has experience with the type of claim you have, is qualified, has a good reputation in the legal community, and seems dedicated to helping you win your case.
How do I pay an attorney?
The Stoddard Firm handles litigation on a contingency basis. This means we accept a percentage of the amount we recover for you. If your claim does not have a successful resolution, we do not collect any fee. We are also pleased to offer free consultations.