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Can an inch make a difference? New Jersey sidewalk laws a headache

Have you ever gone out for a morning run, tied up your shoes and set out down the sidewalk? You focus on the path ahead but trip on an uneven seam or a cracked slab? Sometimes, you simply scrape up your hands or your knees a bit and continue on the way. Other times, these trips can cause serious and permanent injuries.

Some New Jersey cities have taken it upon themselves to enact ordinances that force homeowners to take care of their properties, especially the areas where others travel. Some municipalities recently sent out notices to residents with dangerous conditions in front of their homes.

While some municipalities are doing their part to try to help clean up some of the problems, those who deal with slip and fall injuries are finding that the law is proving to be a bit of a headache in the state. According to some there is no real consistency in the law, leaving some victims exposed.

There are different rules for residential properties, commercial properties and portions of a property that may have a tie to the city itself, and a recent Supreme Court decision over liability for damages didn't help solve the problems.

Some professionals are concerned that there are portions of sidewalk around the city that seem to be free of liability depending on who you ask. The state's Tort Claims Act regulates municipal liability, city ordinances regulate homeowner requirements and yet other state laws seem to cause even more conflict. For instance, there is a debate over a law that may require a city to install a new sidewalk where one has been deemed unsafe, yet the municipalities are asking residents to repair sidewalks that an official has determined are in need of repair.

Source:, "Amid slippery laws, towns take a stand on sidewalk repairs," Seth Augenstein, July 22, 2012

  • Understanding the law is something a slip and fall attorney tends to everyday. Those injured by a fall on another's property should visit our premises liability page for answers.

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