If you are walking on an Atlanta sidewalk and you suffer injury, you might be able to get compensation for the person or company whose negligence caused you to get hurt or an adjacent landowner.
What Happens When Construction Makes a Public Sidewalk Dangerous
Whoever places any material on public sidewalks in Atlanta violates Section 138-12 of the Atlanta Municipal Code, which provides that:
“Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to dump, deposit, or store any refuse, waste, garbage or other material of any nature, in or along the public right-of-way.”
If a construction company puts any debris or other substances on the public sidewalks, whether intentionally or inadvertently and someone gets hurt, the company can be liable. A warning sign will not shield the construction company from responsibility. If the construction activity will impact the safety of the sidewalk, the company must put up barriers and warning lights and other measures to protect the safety of the public.
For example, a construction company demolishes a building to replace it. During the demolition, bricks from the old building landed on the abutting sidewalk. When the crew left for the day, instead of removing the debris or putting up physical barriers, they placed a sign on the fence near the sidewalk warning of construction debris.
The sign does not satisfy their duty of care. If someone suffers injury because of the bricks, the construction company will be liable.
Who Has to Pay for Repairs to Atlanta Sidewalks
While you might think your tax dollars should pay for safe sidewalks, the City of Atlanta thinks otherwise. If a house abuts a damaged sidewalk, the City can order the homeowner to fix the sidewalk. If the department of public works sends a notice to fix the sidewalk and the homeowner does not repair it within what the department feels is a “reasonable time,” the department of public works can fix it and send the homeowner the repair bill.
Atlanta ordinances also require homeowners to keep the sidewalks around their houses free of ice and snow. Also, if part of the sidewalk space is unpaved, the city ordinances require the adjacent homeowner to keep the unpaved area sodded, watered, trimmed, pruned, weeded, and maintained.
Who Can Be Liable for Injuries on Sidewalks in Atlanta Residential Areas?
If you receive an injury while walking on a sidewalk in a residential area of Atlanta, you might have a claim against the abutting homeowner. If the homeowner did not maintain the sidewalk as the Atlanta ordinances require, this failure could be negligence. When the law imposes a duty on a person or entity and the failure to comply with that responsibility results in injury to someone, that person or entity can be liable to the person who suffered harm.
For example, if a section of a sidewalk is broken into chunks and you suffer injury from either losing your balance on the uneven surface or from a car hitting you when you step into the street to walk around the hazardous section of, the adjacent homeowner can be liable. The injury must be the result of the negligent maintenance of the sidewalk.
What Happens if the Pedestrian Is Also Negligent?
Sometimes more than one person is at fault in an accident that results in an injury. Let us say that a walker was playing a game on their phone while strolling down the sidewalk. Due to inattention, they did not notice uneven areas on the sidewalk. The walker tripped on and fell on the cracked and misaligned concrete, breaking their arm.
The judge finds the pedestrian was 40 percent at fault for not paying attention, and the abutting homeowner was 60 percent responsible for failing to maintain the sidewalk. Georgia’s comparative negligence law will reduce the walker’s damages by 40 percent to account for their fault.
How to Get Help for an Atlanta Sidewalk Injury
The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC can talk with you and evaluate whether you might be eligible for compensation for the harm you suffered.
Call us today at 404-474-0804, and we will set up your free consultation.