It makes sense that people are responsible for what happens inside the buildings on their property. However, sometimes people are not specifically injured inside a building on a property, but instead hurt on the sidewalk surrounding the building. Are you, as a property owner, legally liable for someone who falls on a sidewalk on or around your property?

The Basic Idea of Premises Liability

The area of personal injury law that deals with people being injured on other people’s property is known as premises liability. It is the area of law built on the principle that property owners have an intrinsic responsibility to maintain their property and keep it free from dangers. This means taking steps to remove known hazards, clean up spills and debris, repair damaged utilities, and generally ensure the property is safe for anyone who happens to be there for a legitimate purpose.

The Issue of Sidewalks and Ownership

Where things get potentially tricky is when it comes to sidewalks. Technically speaking, sidewalks are usually considered a part of a person’s property, but unlike the rest of the property, it is most regularly used by the public, not the property owners. In fact, many people see the sidewalk as more of a public space, and assume that it should be maintained by local municipalities, not private property owners. Unfortunately for property owners, this is not usually the case, although the exact rules can vary between jurisdictions.

Legal Liability for Sidewalk Falls

Whenever someone has a sidewalk that abuts their property- in other words, when it is directly up against their property- they generally have a responsibility to ensure that the sidewalk is in good condition for anyone who wants to use it. This means they have a responsibility to keep the sidewalk in good repair, including clearing it of snow and ice and making sure it is free of debris. If someone falls on a sidewalk abutting your property and it is not free of hazards, you may be held legally liable for any injuries they suffer.

Protecting Yourself From Liability for Sidewalk Accidents

The best way to protect yourself from legal liability for sidewalk accidents is to ensure the sidewalk next to your property is well-maintained. That said, you cannot always foresee every accident, and there is always a risk that someone could be hurt even when you take proper precautions. That is why you should always make sure to speak to a lawyer with knowledge of personal injury law who can help advise you on your case.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you should seek out the personal injury lawyers at Zlotolow & Associates. Our seasoned New York personal injury attorneys bring more than two decades of trial experience to your case. We serve all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Nassau and Suffolk County. Our aggressive personal injury attorneys always demand maximum compensation. We have helped thousands of clients recover through settlements and courtroom verdicts.