Hazard Removal Teams Aim to Reduce Norfolk Sidewalk Accidents
Every year, thousands of people suffer injuries when they fall on uneven sidewalks in Hampton Roads. Most of these accidents result in minor bruises and sprains but some pedestrians and runners may sustain fractures and serious head injuries. The issue was recently highlighted in Norfolk where crews are tackling hazardous sidewalks as part of a new initiative. Sidewalk accidents can be serious and sometimes deadly.
Uneven sidewalks are a particular problem in low-lying cities like Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. The Virginian-Pilot highlighted how crews with gas generators and electric saws have been slicing hazardous and uneven sidewalk panels on side streets in Larchmont and other Norfolk neighborhoods.
The sidewalk repairs are noteworthy because this is a departure from the traditional method of grinding up uneven edges between two panels, a loud and dirty process that leaves a lot of dust. The new method leaves the sidewalk with a “smooth juncture between the panels,” the Pilot reported.
The newspaper noted the project called “Trip and Fall Hazard Removal,” received an additional $1 million, spread over two fiscal years in response to numerous resident requests after Norfolk business owners approached the City Council in early 2019 over the problem.
Workers replaced over 3,400 trip and fall hazard sidewalks in 10 neighborhoods, including Larchmont, Ghent, Glenwood Park, and elsewhere in Norfolk. Tree roots are the main cause of uneven sidewalks because they push up the surface. Eric Berger, project engineer for the city of Norfolk, said the city has more sidewalk issues than many others because of its low-lying nature. The water table is close to the surface, meaning the soil is less stable in many neighborhoods.
Thousands of people suffer injuries, and some are even killed in sidewalk accidents. However, slip, trip, and falls on pavements receive less attention than falls in stores, hotels, or other businesses.
Elderly people, children, and runners are more likely to be involved in a sidewalk accident. Sidewalks are particularly hazardous in wet conditions or when covered in ice and snow. However, filing a lawsuit against a landowner, a city or a county is seldom straightforward.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Sidewalk Accident?
Local authorities are responsible for the upkeep of public sidewalks and can be sued for injuries sustained in slip and falls. Cities and counties are often responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks, but state highway authorities may be responsible for pavements close to major highways, traffic islands, and other features used by people crossing a highway.
Every year, people bring lawsuits against cities, states, and counties for injuries sustained on sidewalks. However, bringing a lawsuit against a public body can be challenging in Virginia. These bodies benefit from sovereign immunity, an old legal concept that shielded the monarch from legal actions. However, it is still possible to sue local authorities in some cases.
While injured people have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia, you must give notice of a tort claim relating to negligence against a county, city, town, or the Commonwealth within six months of the accident.
Lawsuits for uneven sidewalks and paths can also be brought against a private landowner if you were injured on a their sidewalk or on the grounds of a college or a strip mall owned by a company.
Overall, it is not always apparent who is liable for the upkeep of a sidewalk. An experienced injury lawyer could investigate these issues and find out who is responsible.
What Do You Need to Show After a Sidewalk Accident?
To win any slip and fall case, you have to show that a hazardous pavement caused your injury. However, the fact you fell over is not enough to guarantee success in a lawsuit. It is not enough to show that the sidewalk was uneven. Protruding bricks and large tree roots are prevalent in some neighborhoods such as Olde Towne Portsmouth. The injured person must show that the sidewalk was in an unreasonably unsafe condition and that the property owner was negligent. This means that the owner knew or should have known that the sidewalk was unreasonably unsafe and done nothing to rectify the problem.
The injured party must not have contributed to his or her accident. A pedestrian who is distracted by a cellphone and fails to see a hazard may not be able to sue for an injury.
If you suffer an injury on an uneven sidewalk, take pictures of the scene if possible, and talk to eyewitnesses who saw what happened. Then, you should speak with an injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, our Norfolk-based attorneys have a dedicated premises liability team that helps people who suffered injuries in slip and fall accidents. These can be tough cases. Therefore, it is important to hire an attorney who has handled past slip and fall cases. Please call us for help on your case today.