We walk on sidewalks on a daily basis, often many times a day. Rarely do we stop and consider our personal safety while walking upon a sidewalk. However, our Miami personal injury lawyers know how a single poorly placed uneven flag of concrete, crack in the pavement, or protruding root can send you pummeling to the ground, shattering that illusion of safety. Sidewalk injuries occur at alarming rates across the state of Florida, with walkers slipping, tripping, and falling on any number of obstacles and dangerous conditions annually.
Sidewalk falls can be caused by a number of factors. In Florida, some of the most common causes include:
• Cracks–uneven elevation in the pavement is extremely common and often develops over time. Cracks can be caused by tree roots, sidewalk material, soil condition, weather, and age. Additionally, they can be the result of defective materials or improper lying of the sidewalk.
• Debris–construction tools or trash, children’s toys, overflowing trash bins, bikes, and the like often finds its way to sidewalks, which can lead to pedestrian falls.
• Potholes–potholes develop when the surface of the sidewalk separates. Like cracks, potholes can develop from age, tree roots, or the accumulation of pooled water.
• Slippery surfaces–falls on Florida sidewalks can often be attributed to slippery conditions. Florida receives a lot of rain, which can lead to slippage. Further, store or home owners sometimes spill substances upon their sidewalks that make them hazardous to pedestrians.
• Items protruding from sidewalk- At times small pieces of sign posts, wires, etc. stick up and out from the ground causing a tripping hazard.
Each municipality in Florida sets its own rules and regulations concerning maintenance of sidewalks. In roughly half of South Florida’s municipalities, homeowners are responsible for city-owned sidewalks. For instance, in Boca Raton, sidewalk maintenance is considered the equivalent of maintenance to swales, and it is reasoned that since you must cut the swale, you must similarly take care of your sidewalk. However, in Delray Beach, Weston, and Coral Springs, sidewalks are considered part of the public right of way, and the city must maintain and repair them.
Responsibility for the maintenance of the sidewalk is also linked intricately with liability for any falls that occur on them. Those who slip, trip, or fall on a Florida sidewalk may be able to seek compensation for their damages sustained under premises liability law. While a property owner will not be held responsible for every slip to occur on their sidewalk, they can be found liable for dangerous conditions that lead to the injury of a pedestrian.
Florida was once known as one of the easiest states to recover under premises liability law. However, tort reform came to the state several years ago and injured walkers must now demonstrate that the business, municipality, or other defendant actually knew or should have known of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to fix it, or that the condition occurred with such frequency that the business should have expected the fall.
For instance, a business owner might be liable under the theory of constructive notice if it received several complaints of falls due to cracked pavement outside the store and did nothing to remedy the sidewalk. On the other hand, a homeowner might not be liable for the fall of a distracted teenager on a wagon their young child placed in front of their home.
Slip and fall sidewalk claims will involve complex issues of liability and fault, as well as calculation of damages. Anyone injured in a sidewalk fall in Florida should immediately contact a premises liability attorney who can begin investigating their case and mounting the strongest possible claim.
Don’t wait to receive the qualified legal representation you deserve. At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our qualified team of personal injury attorneys has over 120 years of collective experience representing slip and fall accident victims across South Florida. Our commitment to our clients and to providing excellence of legal services has earned an “AV” rating from Martindale Hubbell, and it is why we have been asked to join Primerus, an international society of leading law firms. Moreover, the Miami Herald voted us as one of the top-rated South Florida law firm, and, we have earned the title of “Superlawyers,” designating us as being among the best lawyers in America. We want to put this dedication to work for you, so call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule an initial consultation.