Understanding Premises Liability and Sidewalk Maintenance in Charlotte, NC

Imagine walking down a neighborhood street, enjoying a peaceful evening, when suddenly, you trip over a broken sidewalk slab and injure yourself. Such accidents are unfortunately common in Charlotte and can lead to serious injuries. 

As a property owner, ensuring that your sidewalks are safe and unobstructed is not just a courtesy but a legal responsibility. Maintaining safe sidewalks is a shared responsibility between property owners and the city. Understanding premises liability and taking the necessary steps to address sidewalk hazards can prevent injuries and legal complications. 

Understanding Premises Liability

Premises liability is a legal concept that holds property owners responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property due to unsafe conditions. This includes maintaining sidewalks, driveways, and other walking surfaces to prevent hazards that could cause harm. If a property owner fails to address these issues and someone gets injured as a result, they can be held liable for the damages.

Property Owner Responsibilities for Sidewalk Maintenance

In Charlotte, maintaining safe sidewalks is a shared responsibility between property owners and the city. While the Charlotte Department of Transportation’s Street Maintenance Division ensures that all streets and public sidewalks are maintained, property owners are responsible for ensuring that the sidewalks on their private property are safe and unobstructed. 

Here are the key responsibilities of property owners:

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct regular visual inspections of the sidewalks on your property to identify any potential hazards such as cracks, uneven surfaces, or debris.
  • Immediate Repairs: Address any issues immediately. If a sidewalk needs repair, contact the City of Charlotte for assistance, as the city will take care of necessary repairs to public sidewalks.
  • Clear Obstructions: Ensure that sidewalks are clear of any obstacles, such as overgrown vegetation, snow, or ice, that could pose a risk to pedestrians.

Note: While it is your responsibility as a property owner to ensure that your sidewalk remains unobstructed and safe for pedestrians, you are not expected to handle repairs to your sidewalk yourself. If your sidewalk is damaged, the City of Charlotte will fix it at no cost to you; just fill out this service request form and the city will handle the repairs. 

City’s Liability for Public Sidewalks

Under N.C.G.S. 160A-296, cities in North Carolina, including Charlotte, may be held responsible for injuries that occur due to broken or obstructed public sidewalks. If you encounter a hazardous sidewalk condition on public property, the city has a duty to repair and maintain it. Failing to do so can result in the city being liable for any injuries sustained.

What to Do if You Are Injured on a Broken Sidewalk

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a broken or obstructed sidewalk, taking the following steps can help protect your rights:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety are the top priority. Get medical treatment immediately for your injuries.
  • Document the Scene: Take photos of the hazardous condition that caused your injury, including any broken or uneven sidewalk sections, obstructions, and lack of warning signs.
  • Gather Witness Information: If there were any witnesses to your accident, obtain their contact information and statements regarding what they saw.
  • Report the Incident: Report the hazard to the City of Charlotte’s Street Maintenance Division to ensure the issue is addressed and documented.
  • Contact a Personal Injury Attorney: Reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case and understand your legal options.

Contact SeiferFlatow for Help

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a broken sidewalk or other hazards around the city, the personal injury team at SeiferFlatow is here to help. Contact us today for experienced legal assistance in handling your personal injury case and ensuring your rights are protected.