Slick sidewalk in front of neighbor's house...

by Toni
(Lawrence, KS)

I was walking my dog on his nighttime walk, and as I came back around to the block I live on, I started to walk on the sidewalk in front of my next door neighbor's house. With one step, my feet flew out from underneath me. The back of my head hit the ground first, because it happened so fast that I didn't have a chance of putting my hands out.

I tried to get myself up, and promptly fell onto my bottom. Once more, I tried to regain footing, only to fall for a 3rd time. I ended up having to crawl up into their yard to be able to get away.
Their sidewalk has been covered in water for such a long period of time, that it's covered in a slick slimy mess. I've had my sidewalk in this condition before, but when it was brought to my attention, I cleaned it completely, and I work to maintain it so that no one will be hurt.

My main point is, earlier in the day, when my neighbor and I were exchanging pleasantries, I mentioned to her to be very careful if she were to walk onto the sidewalk, because it looks as if hers is very thick and slimy. She said her husband was just getting ready to clean it off, because a child had fallen there as well.

On my dog's route, we normally walk a completely different way, and hardly ever pass right in front of her house, but, knowing what I was told about them cleaning it, I walked there. By the way, it was about 9:30 at night, dark, no streetlights were on, nor was there any light from porch lights.

I finally had to scream for help because I couldn't get up. I'm wondering if the neighbor is liable for my injuries and what I should do about this? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Slick sidewalk in front of neighbor's house...":

Toni(Lawrence, KS):

You must first identify if the sidewalk was owned or under the control of your neighbor or the city or state. If the sidewalk is owned or under the control of the homeowner you have a legitimate claim against the homeowner. In the alternative, if the sidewalk is under the control of your city or local municipality your injury claim will be against the city or municipality.

If your claim is against the homeowner you may be able to recover compensation under the homeowners policy. Under the medical payments, or "med-pay" section of the homeowners policy you won't have to prove the homeowner was negligent. The mere injury is sufficient to recover up to $1,000.00 (more if the homeowner purchased additional coverage).

If your damages are in excess of $1,000.00 you'll have to proceed under the homeowners personal liability section of the policy. To succeed you'll have to prove the homeowner was negligent. From the facts you present, including the homeowner's admission a child had previously fallen, negligence appears to be obvious.

If the city or local municipality is responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk you'll have to file a "tort" claim. To do so you'll have a limited time within which to file your claim; sometimes as little as 30 days.

Because of the extent of your injuries you might want to visit with a personal injury attorney. Most won't charge for an initial office consultation. If they accept your case you won't have to pay any legal fees until and unless your attorney succeeds.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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