Whether you’re walking your dog or enjoying the weather, walking outside is a great way to get active and get fresh air. As such, sidewalks are essential to keeping pedestrians safe from passing vehicles. However, when improperly maintained, these sidewalks can pose additional risks to those traveling by foot. If you are injured due to an unsafe sidewalk on government property in Maryland, knowing how to recover the compensation you deserve is crucial. The following blog explores what you should know about suing a government entity and how a Prince George’s County personal injury attorney can represent you if you’ve been injured by an unsafe walkway.
What Constitutes an Unsafe Sidewalk?
Unfortunately, there are a number of ways in which sidewalks can be deemed unsafe or hazardous for pedestrians. These include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to remove ice and snow
- Uncleared debris or hazardous materials
- Cracks and chips
- Gaps from improper installation
- Sinking or lifting slabs that create uneven surfaces
- Exposed tree root
- Flooding or water accumulation
Unfortunately, these issues can often lead to slips and falls, which can cause a number of injuries. These include broken bones, back injuries, neck and spinal cord damage, contusions, sprains, and traumatic brain injuries.
How Can I Sue a Government Entity in Maryland for Damages?
If injured on government property due to the owner’s negligence to remedy any issues with the sidewalk they may experience, you must know how to proceed. Unfortunately, suing an entity of the state is more challenging than filing a lawsuit against a private citizen. This is because states have sovereign immunity, protecting them from facing lawsuits. However, Maryland has a Tort Claims Act, like most other states, which covers the procedure when requesting damages for negligence caused by the government.
To file a lawsuit against a government entity, you must first file a claim letter. This will include your contact information, the circumstances surrounding your accident, a description of your injuries, an estimate for damages, and the information of your lawyer. You must send this letter to the appropriate party, which in Prince George’s County, is the County Attorney.
You must send this letter to the appropriate party within one year of the injury you sustained if you plan on filing a lawsuit against the government agency. It’s important to note that under the Local Government Tort Claims Act in Maryland, a local government cannot be held responsible for more than $400,000 in damages to any individual party.
As you can see, filing a lawsuit against the government can be difficult as there are many complexities that must be taken into consideration. If you’ve been injured due to an unsafe sidewalk owned by the government, it’s in your best interest to enlist the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through these challenging times. Contact the dedicated team at McCarthy, Winkelman, Mester & Offutt to learn how we will fight for you.