Who is Liable if You Fall on a Public Sidewalk?

In any slip- or trip-and-fall case, or in any personal injury case for that matter, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. In other words, it is the injured victim in these cases who must prove that the negligence of the other party caused his or her injuries, damages and losses. So, if you slip, trip, and fall on a public sidewalk, who is responsible?

A recent report in The Star-Ledger noted a trend that many towns in New Jersey have put ordinances in place compelling homeowners to repair sidewalks in front of their properties. But, when it comes to sidewalks, the law is not set in stone. It remains a legal gray area in New Jersey left to the courts to interpret on a case-by-case basis.

Municipalities can require homeowners to maintain, repair, remove snow, or otherwise keep walkways safe for pedestrians.

But these laws are often not enforced. Even if a pedestrian slips, trips, or falls due to dangerous conditions, a recent Supreme Court decision found that only commercial property owners, not residential property owners or public entities, can be held liable for the damages. There are several parties that may be held liable for a poorly kept or maintained sidewalk, such as a snow plow company responsible for clearing the walkway, the city, municipality, or the property owner, such as businesses that are responsible for maintenance.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incident on a public sidewalk and walkway, it is critical that you contact an experienced New Jersey slip-and-fall lawyer at Lependorf & Silverstein, who will analyze all facets of the incident and determine who should be held liable. This area of the law is obviously extremely complex. But a knowledgeable injury lawyer will be able to break it down for victims and families and help them obtain the compensation they rightfully deserve.