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Sidewalks: Liability for Injury

The Colorado Springs City Code requires public sidewalks to be kept in a "clean condition free from projections and obstructions." (Colorado City Code 3.4.103(A), cleaning sidewalks).

More importantly, a landowner or occupant of land with a public sidewalk on it is required by Colorado Springs City Code 3.4.103(B) to "notify the City Engineer of any damage to a public sidewalk" on that property. The failure to notify the City Engineer results in primary liability for the landowner or occupant for any injury caused by defective sidewalk pursuant to 3.4.103(D) of the City Code.

This means the owner or occupant of the land the public sidewalk is on is liable for injuries for someone who trips and falls because of the broken sidewalk, or a sidewalk that has heaved and is no longer even. These injuries are also known as "slip and fall" accidents.

Owners or occupants of land with defective or heaved sidewalks are required to notify the City Engineer of the defect to avoid being primarily liable. It is best to send a letter by certified mail to the City Engineer, return receipt requested, and keep that receipt along with the notification letter in a secure place.

Snow removal from the public sidewalk is required within 24 hours of the "termination of the falling snow" for residential property, and by 5:00 PM the next business day "following termination of the falling snow" per City Code 3.4.202(A).

Liability for injuries from people slipping and falling on unremoved snow and ice is provided for in 3.4.202(B), which contains: "This section imposes an affirmative duty to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks to protect public safety. Violation of this duty shall constitute negligence per se and an unlawful act, subjecting the violator to civil liability for any injury proximately caused by the violation, civil liability for the costs of removal and criminal prosecution."

So be certain to notify, in writing, the City Engineer of sidewalk defects, and to clear snow and ice within 24 hours after the snow stops falling, or face liability for people injured on those sidewalks.

Pit Martin