Determining liability for a sidewalk slip-and-fall accident is tricky. Sidewalks, with their nature of being public property, would usually be assumed as a responsibility of the local government. However, this may not always be the case.
Who Should Be Held Responsible for Slip and Fall Accidents on a Sidewalk?
The answer may depend on where the accident has happened. A slip and fall may either occur in front of private property or along the main street.
- Private sidewalk – If you slip and fall on a sidewalk that is located within the boundaries of private property, then you will file your claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy. Under its medical payments coverage, the insurance company will pay for reasonable expenses for accidental injuries on the property. Without a doubt, alleys and sidewalks adjoining the lot area are part of the home’s premises.
- Public sidewalk – Slip-and-fall victims who have sustained injuries from pedestrian paths along the streets may hold the city accountable for claims.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
To clarify, not all slip-and-fall accidents can be automatically justified for claims. You must prove that the sidewalk is deemed unsafe by industry standards. Below are the common hazards:
- Uneven sidewalks/ Defects in sidewalk design
- Presence of debris/ obstructions
- Accumulation of snow and ice
- Broken concrete/ cracked pavement
- Potholes in walkways
Therefore, to file a valid claim, the sidewalk must show signs of neglect or need immediate repairs. As for snow and ice, there is usually a reasonable timeframe for removal. For example, the winter sidewalk ordinance in Flagstaff, AZ requires the property owner to remove the snow or ice within 24 hours.
Slip and Fall Liability in the Largest Cities of Arizona
Sidewalk maintenance laws may differ in various parts of Arizona. Because of this, filing an injury claim becomes more complex and difficult. As the statute of limitations only applies within 2 years from the date of the accident, it is crucial to know who is legally responsible.
- Phoenix – According to its municipal code section 31-55, “Any owner of any lot or parcel of land abutting on any sidewalk of the City who fails to keep the same in repair, shall be liable for any damage on account of any injury that may be occasioned by reason of the defective condition or want of repair of any sidewalk within the City. (Code 1962, § 35-67)”
- Tucson – The city code requires its landowners to fix the sidewalks in front of their properties.
- Peoria – From section 23-41 of its city code, the city imposes the liability of abutting property owners for defects on its sidewalks.
- Mesa – The transportation department performs street repairs and monitors pavement conditions. The department also repairs potholes and conducts preventative maintenance of its roadways including the sidewalks.
- Scottsdale – To extend the life of city streets, its maintenance and repair (including sidewalks) are handled by the Street Operations Division. Residents must report issues such as potholes and damaged sidewalks on the city’s website.
Liability in Other Cities of Arizona
- Maricopa – In this city, the Street Services Division is responsible for the maintenance and repair of public roads and sidewalks. Moreover, residents may report areas that need to be repaired.
- Goodyear – According to its city website, the Streets Division is the one responsible for maintaining streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and storm drains. It also handles pavement management.
- Payson – The town’s website states that “The Streets Division is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Town’s approximately 106 miles of roadway. This includes the roadside right of way and drainage maintenance, sidewalk and curbs maintenance in designated areas, street lighting, snow removal, street sweeping, pothole repair, and street striping.’
- Bullhead – The responsibility for sidewalk maintenance and repair is assigned to the city’s Streets Maintenance Division.
Arizona Slip and Fall Claims Against a Private Property
As an example, we can refer to the Sherman v. Arno case filed in Tucson, Arizona. A woman emerging from the restaurant exit of a hotel slipped and sustained severe injuries. Below are the notable facts of this case:
- The woman did not see the sidewalk. It deceptively appeared to be on the same level as the walkway.
- Supposedly, the woman should see white paint on the red terra cotta walkway. The paint indicates a change in elevation, such as steps on the sidewalk.
- The white paint has already worn out. Hence, it was difficult to perceive a four-inch step in the glaring afternoon sun.
- As a result, the jury questioned the hotel management. By neglecting to maintain the white paint warning sign, the hotel failed in keeping its premises reasonably safe.
In the same way, if you believe that someone else’s negligence caused your slip-and-fall accident, do not hesitate to call a personal injury attorney. He/she can help you determine the strengths of your case.
Slip and Fall Cases Filed Against Cities in Arizona
- In the City of Phoenix v. Weedon case, a woman sued the city of Phoenix for her slip and fall injuries. She apparently stumbled on a raised section of a public sidewalk. The woman won the verdict in her favor, proving that the condition of the sidewalk was defective.
- According to a local news report, Scottsdale has settled its third sidewalk fall lawsuit in recent years. Furthermore, the latest settlement is just one of a series of slip-and-fall accidents against the city. The deviations in the city’s sidewalks resulted in thousands of dollars worth of claims. The city has since repaired the sections in question after the lawsuits.
An Arizona Slip and Fall Lawyer Can Help You Prove Negligence
Proving fault for a slip-and-fall case requires careful assessment. With the comparative fault system in Arizona, the defendant may argue that you have a share of the blame. If you’re not careful enough, your statements may affect the amount of compensation that you will recover.
If filing a claim against a private property owner is stressful enough, you can expect a claim against the city council to be even more difficult. But with the help of a reliable slip and fall lawyer, you may be able to get the settlement that you really deserve.