Taking a walk around town can be an excellent form of low-impact exercise. It can also be a very convenient form of transportation. Unfortunately, pedestrians largely depend on municipal services and individual property owners to have reasonable access to safe walking paths.
Toms River, New Jersey has many miles of sidewalks and many people who regularly utilize those sidewalks. Occasionally, someone out for a walk may end up seriously hurt because they slip and fall due to snow or ice accumulation on the sidewalks. Who would be liable for someone’s injuries in that scenario?
Property owners should maintain sidewalks
Some sidewalks are the responsibility of local authorities. The sidewalks around and through parks, for example, are the responsibility of the local municipality or the government agency that owns and maintains the park. Most sidewalks are in commercial and residential neighborhoods, not on government property. New Jersey has a state statute addressing sidewalk maintenance. Unless municipal authorities enact a different law at the local level, there is an assumption that property owners should maintain adjacent sidewalks.
In Toms River, local ordinances specifically require that property owners engage in snow and ice removal of sidewalks abutting their property. Typically, the law requires that someone removes snow and ice within 12 hours of sunrise or the end of precipitation. Those who fail to clear their sidewalks put others at risk of injury and may be liable if pedestrians get hurt. Homeowner’s insurance or business insurance policies can sometimes help cover the costs generated when a pedestrian slips and falls.
Learning about local liability rules may benefit those who have been injured on someone else’s property.