If I trip on my neighbor’s sidewalk, who is responsible?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Premises Liability

Navigating Missoula’s sidewalks is essential for pedestrian safety, but when accidents occur, determining liability can be complex. If you have tripped on your neighbor’s sidewalk, understanding the responsible party involves considering several factors, such as the cause of the fall, the sidewalk’s location and the city’s policies.

Cause of the fall

Identifying the cause of your fall is crucial in determining liability. Was it due to a sidewalk defect, external elements, like snow or debris, or your own actions? If the defect is to blame, you may have a claim against the city or the adjacent property owner. If external elements caused the fall, the property owner’s negligence in sidewalk maintenance may be at fault. However, if your negligence played a role, your claim might be affected.

Location of the sidewalk

The sidewalk’s location, whether on public streets or private property, plays a significant role in assigning responsibility. According to Missoula Municipal Code 12.16, property owners are responsible for sidewalk maintenance adjacent to their property. However, this does not automatically make them liable for injuries. The city may still be liable if it neglected sidewalk ordinances too.

City’s policies and ordinances

Understanding Missoula’s policies and ordinances governing sidewalks is vital. These rules encompass construction standards, inspection procedures, enforcement mechanisms, liability limitations and dispute resolution processes. Montana Code Annotated 61-8-608 grants bicyclists and moped riders on sidewalks the same rights and duties as pedestrians. If your accident involves such a scenario, you may have a valid claim. So, if your trip was actually a fall from one of these vehicles, you have the same rights as a pedestrian.

Additionally, Montana Code also limits municipal liability for defective sidewalks, requiring written notice. Failure to provide notice within the required timeframes may impact your ability to sue the city for damages caused by a defective sidewalk.

In conclusion, if you trip on your neighbor’s sidewalk, liability hinges on factors like the cause of the fall, the sidewalk’s location and adherence to city policies. Understanding these legal considerations is crucial to navigate this complex terrain to ensure your rights are protected and ensure appropriate action is taken.

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