Are Business Owners Responsible for Sidewalks?
BUSINESS OWNERS ARE NOT GENERALLY OBLIGATED TO MAINTAIN OR REPAIR PUBLIC SIDEWALKS
In California, the general rule states that property owners and managers have no duty to repair, maintain, or mitigate hazards occurring on public sidewalks, even if those sidewalks are immediately adjacent to the property owner’s business. This is because most sidewalks are owned by cities, counties, or other municipalities–or, in the case of sidewalks at strip malls or larger shopping centers, by the company or person who owns the mall or shopping center. Since the law normally imposes legal liability on the person who owns or controls property, legal liability for accidents and injuries occurring on a sidewalk should attach (if at all–and there are exceptions) to the person or entity who owns or is responsible for the sidewalk.
SOMETIMES, THE LAW REQUIRES PROPERTY OWNERS TO MAINTAIN SIDEWALKS.
In some places, statutes (laws) require property owners to repair and/or maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their properties. In these cases, legal liability for injuries occurring on the sidewalk may rest with the property owner–or it may remain with the city that owns the property. (In some cases, claims may be available against both.)
Never attempt to determine who is responsible for your injuries without the assistance of an experienced attorney, especially if your injury occurred in a public or communal area. Premises liability laws can be difficult and confusing, and bringing a claim against the wrong parties may impact, or harm, your legal rights.
BUSINESS OWNERS CANNOT CREATE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS ON PUBLIC SIDEWALKS
Property owners do have a duty not to create dangerous conditions (or hazards) on the sidewalks that adjoin their properties. If the property owner modifies the sidewalk, or uses it for his or her business, the property owner must comply with applicable laws, obtain necessary permissions, and refrain from acting in ways that increase the risk of harm to customers, passersby, and others.
Again, property owners should consult an attorney (and local officials) before modifying or using public sidewalks, to ensure that uses comply with laws and regulations, do not create additional risks to others, and are managed in accordance with the duty to reasonably repair, maintain, and use business property.
Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Negligence and premises liability claims are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against a property owner who permitted or failed to repair a dangerous condition, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your possible rights and claims.