The whole purpose of sidewalks is to facilitate safe passage for pedestrians. Unfortunately, too many sidewalks in South Florida are cracked, eroding, uneven, impeded or slippery. Something as simple as a protruding root can result in serious injuries if an unsuspecting passerby trips and falls.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale sidewalk injury lawyers are committed to holding accountable the property owners whose poor construction or negligent maintenance of sidewalks resulted in injuries.
We recognize that many people injured on the sidewalk have a strong desire to dust off and move on from what may have been an embarrassing episode. However, these injuries may be quite serious. Immediately seeking medical attention and promptly documenting the scene and your injuries is important. Bear in mind that fall-related injuries may worsen over time.Sidewalk Defects in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale, situated on the southeastern coast of Florida, is a city of more than 176,000 known for its beaching and boating canals. It boasts many luxury hotels, boutiques, bars and upscale outdoor restaurants.
It’s a city that in recent years has been prioritizing pedestrian safety and embracing a “Complete Streets” model of road construction that aims to establish better accommodations for vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians. Part of this includes not just installing more sidewalks, but making sure they are well-lit, solidly-constructed, have adequate storm run-off features and are properly-maintained.
In recent years, The Sun-Sentinel has reported extensively on issues with more than 400 miles within the city in desperate need of repairs. These sections are cracked, pocked or uneven, and it will cost $16 million. The has set aside $2.1 million in risk insurance funds to cover some of these repairs on 100 miles of sidewalk, but it’s not going to be enough to remedy all of it. That sounds like a lot of cash, but consider city records showing the city spent $1.3 million over the course of five years to settle sidewalk injury trip-and-fall claims, versus the $750,000 it spent during the same time on sidewalk repairs.
Shoddy sidewalks can be found in the form of:
- Cracked pavement;
- Slippery surfaces (mud, gravel, loose sand, overgrown vegetation);
- Debris (i.e., palm fronds, trash cans, children’s toys, etc.);
- Tree roots invading the surface;
- Poorly-staged construction site;
- Uneven pavement.
Any one of these scenarios can lead to a fall or other injuries. A sidewalk injury attorney at our Fort Lauderdale firm can investigate exactly what happened in your situation.Sidewalk Fall Injuries
The nature and extent of your injuries will depend on the type of sidewalk defect and the way in which you fell.
Some examples of injuries that gave rise to sidewalk liability include:
- Broken facial bones (jaw, nose, orbital bone);
- Fractured wrists, elbows, shoulders, etc.;
- Broken collarbone;
- Spinal cord and neck injuries;
- Skull fractures;
- Traumatic brain injuries.
These injuries can cause serious and lasting harm. In addition to being very painful, those injured may incur extensive medical bills and endure long-term treatments and therapies. They may also be unable to work for a time.
When the fall happened as a result of negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation with the assistance of a Fort Lauderdale sidewalk injury attorney.Who Is Responsible for Sidewalk Injuries?
There are several different entities/ individuals who may be liable for sidewalk injuries, depending on where it happened. Each of these cases are a form of premises liability, meaning it comes down to the property owner/ possessor.
In Florida law, the person who owns the property has a duty to maintain it in reasonably safe condition for lawful visitors. However, sidewalks are a bit different in some respects.
Potential defendants include:
- Condo associations;
- Homeowner associations;
- Local and state government agencies;
- Individual homeowners.
That last part rather surprises some people. In fact, about half of all Florida cities have ordinances that impart full or partial responsibility on homeowners for defective or dangerous sidewalks. In those cases, injury claims could possibly be filed by a sidewalk injury lawyer in the Fort Lauderdale area against both the city and the homeowner’s insurance.
A 2008 Advisory Opinion from the Florida Attorney General’s Office indicated responsibility for sidewalk maintenance rests with whatever jurisdiction the sidewalk is in as of 1995, absent some legal transfer of jurisdiction by a mutual agreement.
It should be noted that Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal in Del Rio v. City of Hialeah ruled that even if a city does have jurisdiction over sidewalk maintenance, a private property owner abutting the sidewalk who contributes or causes the dangerous condition may also be held responsible for resulting injuries.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or (954) 761-3641.