When you live in an urban area like Chicago, sidewalks are a necessary part of life. Pedestrians may walk miles of them on any given day to get from one place to another. Most people take it for granted that the sidewalks they travel are safe and well-maintained. Yet every year, numerous people end up in the emergency room with serious injuries because of uneven or broken sidewalks. These uneven and broken sidewalk accidents are usually avoidable, which means the victim may have the right to pursue compensation for his or her injuries.
Talk to Hale & Monico if you or a loved one were hurt because of an uneven, broken, or poorly maintained sidewalk. We can explain your legal options and get started on your case today.
Common Sidewalk Injuries
Broken, cracked, and crumbling sidewalks are relatively common in Chicago. The city has thousands of miles of streets lined with sidewalks, not all of which are in the best condition. Private property owners may also be responsible for caring for the sidewalks that run across their land. While maintaining sidewalks is certainly difficult, public and private property owners don’t get a free pass when someone gets injured.
And those injuries can be substantial, even fatal. Uneven or broken sidewalks can cause a pedestrian to lose his or her balance and trip or fall. That can result in the following:
- Broken arms and legs
- Injuries to the face
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injuries
- A secondary accident like falling into oncoming traffic
The victim may be in for a long hospital stay and substantial medical bills. And that could be just the beginning. Some common damages that result from uneven and broken sidewalk injuries are:
- Medical bills, including for hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs, and more
- Lost wages due to time recovering from injuries
- Lost earning ability if the injury makes it difficult or impossible to work the same job
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death if the victim dies
Why Do Sidewalks Become Broken And Uneven?
If you’ve been injured because of a broken or uneven sidewalk, it will be your responsibility to establish the wrongful party’s liability. And that usually begins with understanding why the sidewalk became so hazardous to begin with. These are a few of the most common reasons:
- Lack of regular maintenance
- Tree roots growing under the sidewalk
- Low quality materials used to build the sidewalk
- Construction work causing damage to the sidewalk
- Uneven levels between slabs
- Large gaps between slabs
- Heavy rain and other weather or environmental conditions
Who Is Liable For A Sidewalk Injury?
In most sidewalk injury cases, one of two parties will be liable: a private property owner or a municipal government. The difference depends on which party was responsible for maintaining and repairing the sidewalk. However, it’s important to bear in mind that suing a government is much different than suing a private party. There are different and sometimes complicated procedures involved, so it’s a good idea to have an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury claims against governmental entities.
Regardless of who is to blame for an uneven or broken sidewalk, it’s not enough to prove that a pedestrian was injured. The injury has to be the result of negligence. That means the responsible party failed to take steps to correct dangerous conditions it either knew about or should have known about under the circumstances. The defect in question must therefore pose an unreasonable risk of harm to others.
One issue that complicates sidewalk injury lawsuits, particularly when the government is a defendant, is what is known as the de minimis rule. This means the defect in question was so minor that a reasonably prudent person would not anticipate its danger. With respect to uneven sidewalks, courts are generally reluctant to find liability unless the unevenness between two slabs exceeds two inches. However, this is not an absolute rule and every case must be evaluated on its own merits.
How Can An Attorney Help With An Uneven And Broken Sidewalk Injury?
An experienced sidewalk injury lawyer will not only understand the nuances of establishing the wrongful party’s liability. The attorney will also know how best to refute potential defenses (such as the de minimis rule) and how to value the case. Proving the nature and amount of damages is an essential part of any injury lawsuit, and tends to be hotly contested between the parties. An expert witness may be called upon to help calculate a dollar value for your injuries. This includes taking future expenses into account, like the need for medical treatments.
Correctly assessing the value of your damages is critical, because once your case settles or is decided in court you won’t have another chance to ask for more money. Our team has extensive experience handling sidewalk injury cases. We also have a network of expert witnesses we rely upon to help assign a fair value for your damages.
Contact Our Chicago Uneven And Broken Sidewalk Injury Attorney
Sidewalk injuries can mean big medical expenses and little income to pay bills while you recover. If someone else’s negligence was the cause of the uneven or broken sidewalk where you were injured, it’s time to talk to Hale & Monico. Give us a call today to schedule your confidential consultation.