If you live in the metropolitan areas or in a suburb of the Twin Cities, odds are there are plenty of sidewalks and paved pathways in your neighborhood or around the businesses you patronize. Most of the time these pathways are properly managed, but if they are jagged, crumbling or covered in ice, they can quickly become a hazard. If you trip on a sidewalk, you likely have a legal claim to injury compensation, but who is to blame? The property owner? The city? We take a closer look at sidewalk liability in Minnesota in today’s blog.
Sidewalk Injuries In Minnesota
If you were injured because of a fall on the sidewalk, there’s a pretty good chance you have a right to injury compensation. All you need to do is prove that you suffered injuries, and that those injuries were the result of someone’s else’s inability to provide you with due care. The first part is easy, but the second aspect is a little trickier to prove, and matters become more complicated when you’re trying to figure out who is actually at fault for your injuries.
If you’re injured on a sidewalk, you’ll want to determine who failed to provide you with a duty of care. Under Minnesota law, both property owners and municipalities are required to maintain sidewalks, but duties can vary by city or county. For example, property owners have a duty to remove snow and ice from walkways within a reasonable amount of time after it snows, and in many cities, there is actually a specific time limit mentioned (24 hours after snow ceases, in Minneapolis, for example). So if you slip on snow or ice on a sidewalk despite the fact that it hasn’t snowed in three days, you may be able to take the property owner to court to offset the medical bills caused by your slip and fall.
There’s also the possibility that the city or a third-party could be liable for your injuries. If an apartment complex hires a company to remove snow and ice, and they fail to uphold their end of the contract and a person is injured, the injured party could go after that business. But what about summer injuries caused by cracks in the sidewalk or uneven sections of concrete? If you trip on an unmaintained sidewalk, you may be able to go after the city or the local public works department. The city has a legal responsibility to help keep the public safe on these walkways, and when they fail to meet this standard, you can collect compensation.
Going after compensation for sidewalk injuries, especially when you’re trying to collect from the city, will really revolve around your ability to prove that the city had reason to know that their sidewalks were unsafe and that they failed to correct the hazard in a reasonable amount of time. For example, if a tree root has pushed a sidewalk into a very uneven walking surface, it’s pretty clear that you can argue that this was a slow developing issue and the city had plenty of time to address it. However, if you’re out walking right after a winter storm and you slip, you’re going to find it difficult to showcase that the property owner had failed to provide a duty of care in a reasonable time frame because the walkway had just recently become treacherous.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that your role in the injuries will be examined as well, and if you’re found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you’re not going to be able to collect compensation. So if you walk past orange construction cones and trip on some concrete debris because you were looking down at your phone, that’s on you, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a judge that finds the city at fault for your injuries. That’s not to say that both parties cannot have a role in an accident, but know that your actions will also be factored into the injury equation.
So if you have been injured as a result of slipping and falling on the sidewalk, make sure your first call is to an injury lawyer to learn about your options and begin moving your case forward. For more information, reach out to Dean and the team at Margolis Law Firm today.
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