Louisiana Broken Sidewalk Accidents: Property Owners Can be Liable

August 17, 2021 Accident

Louisiana Broken Sidewalk Accidents: Property Owners Can be Liable

In Louisiana, property owners and managers, including merchants, landlords and others, are responsible for keeping their property safe for those who are invited to come onto the property. This duty of safety applies to both interior and exterior spaces. Thus, property owners and merchants are responsible for keeping concrete and brick walkways and sidewalks safe from trip hazards. When broken or cracked sidewalks cause a person to fall, serious injuries can occur including serious bruising and cuts that can be permanent causing disfigurement, broken bones, torn ligaments and muscles, spinal damage, brain injuries if the fall causes the victim’s head to strike a hard surface and more.

 

Property owners and merchants can be held liable for trip-and-fall accidents caused by broken, uneven and cracked sidewalks via what is called a “premises liability” claim and/or lawsuit. Property owners and merchants are generally required to have liability insurance and many premises liability accidents are settled through insurance claims. But many other cases of wrongdoing involving dangerous property conditions are prosecuted and punished through litigation in Louisiana state courts.

 

The legal requirements for property owners is slightly different from the legal requirements for merchants. Premises liability for property owners is governed by Louisiana Civil Code, art. 2315. A merchant’s liability in a trip-and-fall is governed by the Louisiana Merchant Liability Act, La. R. Stat., § 9:2800.6. Because of the different legal requirements, if you have been injured in a trip-and-fall accident, you should seek advice and counsel from experienced Louisiana premises liability attorneys like the ones at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick, LLC.

Whether a given defect in a sidewalk is unreasonably dangerous depends on the circumstances both of the particular accident and other factors. For example, even small differences in elevation between pieces of concrete could be deemed dangerous. This was the holding of Gomes v. Harrah, Inc., Case No. 16-17483 (US E.D. La. 2017) where there was a one-half inch depression in a sidewalk that caused the accident. The court held that a jury could potentially hold that even that small of a difference in elevation might be unreasonably dangerous. By contrast, the court in Reed v. WalMart Stores, 708 So. 2d 362 (La. Sup. Court 1998) upheld a jury’s verdict that one-fourth to one-half inch height differences between concrete squares in Wal-Mart’s parking lot was not sufficient to hold Wal-Mart liable for a trip-and-fall accident.

As noted, courts take a holistic approach and consider other factors in evaluating whether a walkway or sidewalk is unreasonably dangerous. Other factors include:

  • Size of the defect
  • Whether previous accidents had occurred at the location
  • Benefit (if any) of the variation in the walkway compared to the hazard
  • Cost of repairs and maintenance is prohibitive
  • Visibility of the defect
  • Was the defect causing the trip-and-fall unusual or unexpected in some way?
  • And more

Our Attorneys Can Help

For more information, contact the Louisiana premises liability lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.