Streets and sidewalks should be safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and cars. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case in Atlanta and many other cities throughout Georgia. When a person is injured in an accident caused by an unsafe street or sidewalk, the city is legally responsible.
Cities Responsible For Defects In Roads & Sidewalks
While cities are typically immune from lawsuits because of sovereign immunity, Georgia law creates an exception for situations where people are injured due to an unsafe road or sidewalk. O.C.G.A. 32-4-93 is the law that makes a city responsible for injuries caused by roads and sidewalks. A city is responsible when:
- the city negligently constructed or maintained the road or sidewalk; AND
- had notice of the defect that caused the injury; OR
- the defect existed long enough that the city should have discovered and fixed it.
Many cities have roads running through them that are county or state roads. Cities are not responsible for injuries caused by defects in these roads unless the city:
- constructed the road; OR
- agreed to maintain the road.
Types of Defects In Streets & Sidewalks
Here are examples of defects in roads and sidewalks that often cause accidents and injuries:
- loose metal plates that cover potholes;
- broken and uneven sidewalks;
- uncovered water meters and broken water meter covers;
- sewer grates with bars parallel to the curb;
- missing stop signs or stop signs covered by trees or bushes;
- broken stop lights.
Law Requires Legal Notice To City
Before an injured person brings a lawsuit against a city, they must send a formal legal notice to the city called an ante litem notice. The ante litem notice must be given within six months of the injury and state the time, date and place of the injury, how the injury happened and the extent of the person’s injuries, medical bills and lost wages. If the injured person does not send the city an ante litem notice, the injured person is forever barred from filing a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective street or sidewalk, contact us for a free consultation about your legal rights. We have offices in Atlanta and Athens and have successfully handled cases throughout Georgia.