Sidewalk Defect Lawyers
It often seems as if every other block in Washington, D.C. has some sort of construction or renovation going on. Buildings are being demolished and rebuilt, sewer lines are being replaced, and derelict storefronts are being refurbished. With all this work, the likelihood of hazards on sidewalks and pathways is higher than ever.
To many, broken or uneven pavement may not seem like a big deal. However, failure to maintain sidewalks in a clean and safe fashion can have serious consequences. A missing brick or a paving section elevated by tree roots that cases as little as two inches of gap can cause an unsuspecting pedestrian to trip and fall hard. When a pedestrian trips over uneven sidewalk, the injuries can be significant. In most cases there is some level of strain/sprain or spinal injury. A fall can result in bulging or dislocated disks or microfractures in vertebrae. In other instances, the victim may attempt to catch himself or herself with outstretched hands, causing fractured wrists and arms or dislocated shoulders. Elderly individuals are at a heightened risk, and can even suffer serious head injuries and permanent brain damage.
Property owners have a responsibility to maintain a clean and clear pathway for pedestrians. People walking along the sidewalk do not expect to encounter trip and fall hazards. However, many property owners think it doesn’t matter, or that they don’t have this responsibility. They may ignore defects in the sidewalk or pretend it is the duty of the city to maintain them. This lackadaisical attitude can be a real problem when people are injured.
After a fall caused by a sidewalk defect, the property owner may try to blame the victim, saying that they should have kept a better lookout or watched where they were going. They may also refuse to take calls or open a liability insurance claim. In some instances, a property owner will erase camera footage or immediately repair the sidewalk in order to hide the evidence of the hazard. Unless the victim was able to immediately take photos of the place where the fall happened, their only proof may be gone.
Experienced sidewalk defect lawyers know the tactics used by negligent property owners. If contacted immediately after an incident, a premises liability lawyer can immediately send investigators to carefully measure the defect. A law firm that handles slip and fall cases will identify all possibly-responsible parties and send letters that preclude them from erasing footage or destroying evidence. They will be able to research the relevant statutes and prior cases to determine whether the defect is enough to impose liability on the property owners.
A victim of a sidewalk defect should take photos and file an incident report but should not sign any documents provided by the property owners. They also should avoid speaking to insurance companies completely, as doing so could hurt their case if it has to proceed to trial. A top trip and fall lawyer will be able to handle all communication with the insurance company in order to seek the best possible outcome for the client. Cohen & Cohen