Sidewalk accidents can cause significant injuries, especially to the hands, arms, legs and feet. Broken bones and head injuries are very common. Sidewalk accidents are often caused by:
- tree roots,
- missing/broken parts,
- sunken/uneven areas,
- debris, and
Pennsylvania Sidewalk Accident Liability Law
Under a Pennsylvania law known as the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, local municipalities or local agencies, like the Philadelphia city government, are generally immune from liability. However, there are several exceptions.
Section 8542(b) of the Act defines each of the exceptions. One exception provides for sidewalk liability:
(7) Sidewalks. – A dangerous condition of sidewalks within the rights-of-way of streets owned by the local agency, except that the claimant to recover must establish that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred and that the local agency had actual notice or could reasonably be charged with notice under the circumstances of the dangerous condition at a sufficient time prior to the event to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition. When a local agency is liable for damages under this paragraph by reason of its power and authority to require installation and repair of sidewalks under the care, custody and control of other persons, the local agency shall be secondarily liable only and such other person shall be primarily liable.
How to Prove Liability Against a Pennsylvania Local Government in a Sidewalk Defect Case
Under the Tort Claims Act, a person who is injured in a sidewalk accident must prove that the local agency: 1. had actual notice of the dangerous condition, and 2. had opportunity to fix the condition. If the agency did not have actual notice, there must be circumstances sufficient to charge the agency with notice.
Evidence related to the defect, such as how long it existed, how large the defect was, etc. are all important factors. For example, the larger the defect, the better the argument that the local agency had notice of it. In addition, prior complaints and prior accidents are also very important. These factors help establish that the local agency had actual notice of the dangerous condition.
It is important to note that under the Tort Claims Act, lawsuits against local agencies must be preserved by filing a special notice within 180 days of the accident. Therefore, sidewalk accident victims should speak to a knowledgeable sidewalk accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Related Legal Article: Pennsylvania Sidewalk Accident Law – Defendants in a Sidewalk Accident Lawsuit
For more information, contact our Pennsylvania slip and fall lawyers at 215.925.4451. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation.
The lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman handle cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:
- PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
- NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities
*This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is important to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Published: July 13, 2012