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Is a property owner liable for sidewalk injuries?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2020 | Premises Liability

If you slip and fall on the floor of your local grocery store, you may have a liability case if the store owner or management showed negligence that resulted in your injury. You may also have a case against a property owner if you get hurt outside the building but on the property grounds. However, it may be a different story if you sustain a fall on a sidewalk. 

The question is whether you get hurt on public or private property. If you fall on ground maintained by your local community, a court will likely not hold a private property owner liable for your injury. 

Public sidewalks 

For instance, you might walk on a sidewalk that runs parallel to a store. Because of a sidewalk flaw, you trip and fall. According to FindLaw, if a local community such as a town, a county or a city has the responsibility for maintaining a sidewalk, the owner of the store or any nearby private property will generally have no liability for injuries on the sidewalk. 

Private sidewalks 

However, not all sidewalks are public ground. Sidewalks that run parallel to a road are generally public property. But if you notice a separate walk that reaches across land to the front doors of a building or home, this walk is likely to be private property. You may also observe people using this walk to enter or leave a building. 

If the primary use of a sidewalk is to provide a path for customers or guests to enter or leave a building, a court may be more likely to hold a private property owner accountable for injuries that occur on the walk. It will usually depend on whether the owner knew of dangerous conditions on the walk and whether the owner showed negligence in dealing with sidewalk hazards that can cause a fall. 

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