Personal injury cases have always represented a large portion of all lawsuits lodged against either companies or individuals, but they’re becoming more and more difficult to pursue or defend against. The number of ways in which we can become injured is growing with each passing year, and the amount of personal information available seems to be growing as well. A new report details the growing pains of personal injury law in cases where change is necessary but hasn’t quite happened yet.
Questions continue to be asked about personal injury cases that arise because of trips or falls on sidewalks. Who is liable for personal injury compensation? The city government or municipality? The owner of the adjacent property? The workers who maintain it? The complication grows because this realm of law is deeply intertwined with exterior premises liability.
Even though property owners are rarely informed of work outside on the sidewalk, and even though the sidewalk doesn’t belong to them, and even though they have almost no control over how it is maintained or repaired, the law still holds them accountable when something goes wrong. The situation is exacerbated when the injury is incurred because of drainage issues or anything else involving the subterranean drainage system. Why should a property owner be held liable?
Obviously, the laws should be changed to reflect the property owner’s actual negligence. No one should have to pay damages for something over which they have zero control.
In most regions, the water department is responsible for inspecting those drainage systems and then providing any required maintenance. Property owner doesn’t factor into the equation. Wouldn’t it be more fair, then, to hold the water department responsible for any injuries that result from improperly maintained drains? Wouldn’t it be more fair to hold workers responsible for faulty or defective workmanship?
One of the issues is partial governmental immunity or limitations in government liability for cases that arise from improperly maintained sidewalks or storm drainage systems. There are caps on how much someone can sue for any injuries that result, even when blame is obvious. Until that immunity itself is limited, it seems difficult or impossible to place blame where it is most deserved.
To start, the law needs to properly spell out who owns and maintains those areas of property based on use. For the moment, these laws remain outdated and are in need of drastic change.