Government Liability for Public Road and Sidewalk Safety Issues

Government liability for injuries suffered on a public sidewalk could allow injured parties to file a claim for damages against a government entity. However, if a local business owner creates the hazard outside of an establishment, then the business owner may be liable for injuries. These cases can be complex, and a Colorado injury attorney may provide guidance regarding which party may be considered liable.

What if the sidewalk is adjacent to a business or private residence?

If there is a business or private residence adjacent to a road or sidewalk, generally the landowner is not liable for injuries. Even when municipalities have requirements for property owners, such as removing snow from an adjacent sidewalk, failing to do so wouldn’t necessarily make the property owner liable for any resultant injuries.

About the only exception to this would be if the owner had created the dangerous or hazardous condition. So let’s say a patron fell on an icy sidewalk directly in front of the business. The forming of ice is a natural condition that the owner would have no control over.

Now let’s say a business owner emptied a bucket of water on the sidewalk in freezing conditions in front of the establishment. The water freezes and creates an icy condition, causing a passerby to slip and fall. In this case, injuries stemming from this unnatural occurrence could result in the owner being liable.

So when owners aren’t liable, who is? This would fall to the government entity responsible for the road or sidewalk.

Can the government be liable for poor sidewalk conditions?

Hazardous road or sidewalk conditions could be the responsibility of a government entity. In general, immunity from lawsuits is granted to the government. When an entity is immune, this means no lawsuit can be filed and no damages can be recovered.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Per Section §24-10-106 of the Colorado Statutes, public entities are immune from liability in all injury claims except under certain circumstances, such as when the conditions of sidewalks are dangerous.

Specifically, the law addresses accumulation of snow and ice. Government liability could exist when there was a failure to remove the dangerous conditions. However, the government must have been aware of it and given a reasonable amount of time to clear it.

How much time do I have to file a premises liability claim?

If you are going to file a premises liability claim against a property owner or a government entity, you have two years from the date of the injury. However, if you are filing a claim against a government entity, you have 180 days from the time the injury is discovered to submit a written notice of your intention to file suit claiming government liability.

Personal injury claims are generally handled differently when the government is involved. They fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which may have distinct rules that wouldn’t apply to your average injury claim.

Legal guidance may be necessary if you were injured on a public sidewalk in Colorado. Injury attorney D.J. Banovitz can help if you decide to file a lawsuit claiming government liability for injuries (303) 300-5060.

D.J. Banovitz’ career has always concentrated on trial practice and he has litigated hundreds of cases. His passion and sole career focus has been to seek justice for people suffering from personal injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence. The hallmark of the Law Office of D.J. Banovitz, is the total commitment to professionalism, quality, and personalized care of your injury case. D.J. has dedicated his professional life to helping those most in need and is a proud and active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. His experience includes volunteering for Colorado Rural Legal Services in Montrose, the Colorado Aids Project, consumer law, family law, criminal defense, and Alternative Defense Counsel for juveniles in Denver.