March 17, 2015- Richmond, Va.
In its weekly segment, “Why, Richmond, Why”, NBC12 correspondents addressed the following reader question:
“Q. I have a brick sidewalk out front. It is beautiful, but it has waves like the ocean. Who is responsible for maintaining those sidewalks? The trees are beautiful, but the roots are just way too robust, and the bricks are in some places over 8 inches above grade.”
To answer this question, NBC12 interviewed Sharon R. North, public information manager for the Richmond Department of Public Works. According to North, the city is responsible for structural repairs of sidewalks, damaged and hazardous sidewalks and citizens with concerns are encouraged to post a report on SeeClickFix.com; make a request through the city’s website and the citizen’s request system; or contact customer care at 3-1-1 or 646-7000 to initiate repairs.
While the City of Richmond works diligently to address all reported sidewalk damage, NBC12 noted that various circumstances can delay repairs, which may result in “slip and fall” accidents. Tripping, slipping, or falling due to uneven sidewalk surfaces can result in serious injury.
“Slip and fall” cases, also known as premise liability accidents, are often complex and difficult to prove. In Virginia, the injured person typically bears the burden to prove that a defendant not only caused the hazardous condition that led to injury, but also that the defendant knew of the unsafe condition and failed to address it within a reasonable timeframe.
Furthermore, injured parties may be barred from recovery if a jury determines that the unsafe condition which caused their injury was “open and obvious” – meaning that the injured person should have seen and avoided it. Under this theory of contributory negligence, Virginians have a responsibility to look where they are going and avoid hazardous conditions.