Who is Responsible for a Las Vegas Sidewalk?

Most pedestrian accidents are caused by negligent drivers, but sometimes the sidewalk itself is to blame. Some sidewalks are crumbling, whereas others have tree roots pushing through. In the winter, some sidewalks can become icy as rain freezes overnight, and various objects like tree branches or leaves can cause a person to slip.

Sidewalk maintenance and repair are necessary to protect the public. But who is responsible? Our Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer reviews what the law says and invites you to contact Ladah Law Firm with questions.

slip and fall pedestrian

What the Municipal Code Says

The Las Vegas Municipal Code deals with sidewalks in Chapter 13.56. The Code covers both “sidewalks” and “transition strips,” which are defined as follows:

Transition strips: this is basically the space between the road and your property which is the public right of way. The code calls this the “unimproved” part of the right of way, usually because there is no pavement. The public can walk on the transition strip even though it is not paved.

Sidewalks: under the Municipal Code, “sidewalk” refers specifically to the part of the right of way that has been “improved,” usually by adding a paved sidewalk.

The Municipal Code assigns responsibility to the property owner who abuts the right-of-way for improving or maintaining a sidewalk, as well as a transition strip.

For sidewalks, Section 13.56.0404 says the property owner shall “maintain and repair” any existing sidewalk when doing so is necessary for the welfare, safety, health, and benefit of the public. Section 13.56.030 also says that the property owner has a responsibility to install new sidewalk along a transition strip when doing so is necessary for the same reasons.

What Does this Mean, Practically?

Under the Code, the property owner has responsibility for keeping the public safe by repairing or maintaining the sidewalk. This would mean fixing the sidewalk when tree roots push up through and crumble the sidewalk. A different section of the Municipal Code requires that property owners receive a permit before attempting repairs.

Interestingly, the code even requires that property owners pay to install a sidewalk when it’s necessary for public health or safety. Owners should also address hazards on transition strips, like weeds.

One practical limitation on the municipal code: sidewalks in a subdivision or homeowner’s association are not covered by the code because they are not “public.” Instead, these sidewalks are maintained by the Homeowner’s Association or a property management company because they are private.

Who is Liable for a Sidewalk Accident?

Because the Municipal Code places a duty on property owners to repair the sidewalk, you might think that means the property owner is liable if you are hurt by a hazard when walking. That’s not the case, however.

As the Nevada Supreme Court has explained, the “general rule” is that government regulations imposing a duty to repair sidewalks “does not impose liability” on the property owner when someone is hurt due to a sidewalk defect. Instead, the liability remains with the municipality that owns the sidewalk.

This rule makes sense. The City is the ultimate owner of the sidewalk, so they should bear the financial loss when a hazard injures someone.

If you are hurt while walking down a sidewalk in Las Vegas, chances are you will sue the city. You might trip, slip, and fall, suffering fractures, back injuries, or a concussion. You can seek compensation from the city with the assistance of a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer.

There is an exception: if you are injured on a private sidewalk. For example, you might slip and fall on a sidewalk owned by a homeowner’s association. Typically, you will sue the HA or its property management company for damages. Consult an experienced lawyer to identify the correct person to sue.

Can You Ever Sue the Property Owner?

Possibly. On the one hand, a property owner is not liable for injuries caused by negligence, that is, a lack of upkeep. But a property owner could be legally on the hook if they affirmatively created a hazard.

For example, they might intentionally flood the sidewalk, causing it to freeze in winter. You walk down the sidewalk and slip and fall on the ice. That type of action would endanger the public, and they could face legal liability.

Let Us Determine Who is at Fault

Injured pedestrians need experienced legal help. Let us do the heavy lifting as you recover from your injuries. Call Ladah Law Firm today, (702) 252-0055 to talk about your accident and possible right to compensation.