The first issue in any personal injury claim is determining the proper defendant in a case. In a recent Connecticut premises liability case, the court had to consider whether a landowner defendant was liable for injuries that a woman allegedly sustained on a public sidewalk next to the owner’s property.

In that case, the plaintiff filed a claim against a property owner after she fell on a public sidewalk next to the owner’s property in Meriden, Connecticut. She tripped and fell on the sidewalk and alleged that since the concrete was broken and cracked, and since the crack was hidden by grass growing through the crack, it prevented her from safely using the sidewalk. She claimed that she sustained injuries, mostly to her right leg. The plaintiff alleged that the landowner allowed a defective, dangerous, and unsafe condition to exist, knew or reasonably should have known of the presence of the defect, and failed to repair it in a timely manner or warn others of the defect.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it did not have a duty to maintain the sidewalk. A Connecticut appeals court agreed. It held that the landowner did not have a duty to maintain the sidewalk in this case because the municipality had the primary duty to maintain the sidewalk, and it had not shifted liability to the landowner through a statute, ordinance, or charter provision, and it did not create a defect by its own actions. Therefore, the court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the case.

A Landowner’s Duty to Maintain Public Sidewalks

In any negligence claim, a plaintiff must establish four elements:  duty, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages. In order to establish the first element, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a recognized duty of care to the plaintiff.

Generally, a landowner does not have a duty to maintain a public sidewalk in front of their property in a reasonably safe condition. Municipalities have the primary duty to maintain public sidewalks. However, a landowner may have a duty to maintain a public sidewalk if a municipality confers liability through a statute, ordinance, or charter provision. In addition, a landowner may be liable for injuries if the landowner created a defect or an unsafe condition through their own actions. For example, landowners have been held liable when they maintained a gasoline pump next to a sidewalk, and that spilled gasoline onto the sidewalk, or they allowed grease to seep onto the sidewalk from a restaurant.

Have You Been Injured?

If you have been injured, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Injuries can take a serious physical and mental toll, and they often bring severe financial difficulties as well. At Brickley Law, we are committed to helping you recover financially so that you can move forward with your life. With aggressive strategies, creative approaches, and effective methods, we help you pursue the satisfactory results you need. We serve individuals throughout Fairfield County, Connecticut in premises liability and other personal injury claims. Call us today at 203-599-3600 for a consultation.