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Sidewalks and Bicycle Paths

Every city and county has a duty to maintain sidewalks in a safe manner for use by the public. Unfortunately, it is common to see our sidewalks in poor conditions with portions buckling and creating trip hazards. As a rule of thumb, any rise of one inch or more is considered a hazard to pedestrians making use of the sidewalks.

When a person trips and suffers injuries, a claim can be brought against the city or county that is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk. See also our section on claims against municipalities and governments. If you are within the city limits of a city or town, that city or town is likely the responsible party and was required to take measures to fix the sidewalk or close the sidewalk. If the sidewalk buckles or cracks due to vegetation or tree roots, you may also have a claim against the abutting property owner. The City of Seattle provides information to the public that describes the duties that the city and property owners have for maintaining sidewalks, planting strips and the right-of-ways near homes and businesses.

Bicycle paths also must be maintained in a safe manner. With the new bicycle lanes throughout Seattle and the many bike paths throughout the Seattle area – including the Burke-Gilman – our area is a great place to ride whether for commuting or pleasure. These paths are maintained by local governments who have a duty to inspect and fix any hazards. If you are injured in a bike accident caused by defective conditions, you certainly may have a claim against whoever was obligated to maintain the pathway.

We also see claims arise from other conditions that effect pedestrians such as broken curbs or other trip and fall hazards created by construction companies or other doing work on the roads. Holes or broken pavement in crosswalk areas or other places where we expect pedestrians or even persons on scooters or skateboards to use and access can give rise to claims against the city or counties responsible for maintaining the conditions. Under some circumstances, ice may also be a hazard that gives rise to a claim.

If you suspect that a condition on a sidewalk, bike path or roadway may have caused or contributed to our injuries, contact us. Also make sure to take pictures and document as much of the condition as possible as these conditions change rapidly, particularly after the city finds out about the dangerous condition.

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