Sidewalk Law & Legal Definition


Local laws govern the maintenance of sidewalks, assessments for repair of sidewalks, prohibition of bicycling and skating on sidewalks, and regulation of sidewalk vendors. Statutes and ordinances, which vary by locality, require that the sidewalks be kept free from hazards to pedestrians, such as snow, ice and trip factors. Responsibility for safe maintenance of sidewalks is usually on the owner of the property adjacent to the sidewalk. In order to be liable for accidents on sidewalks due to unsafe conditions, the responsible party is usually required to have notice of the dangerous condition. Requirements for notice vary, and may be either actual notice (knowledge in fact) or constructive notice (the party reasonably should  have been aware of the condition).

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with sidewalks:

"The council or governing body of the city shall have the right to construct or cause to be constructed sidewalks and curbing in the territory exempt from city taxation under the provisions of this article and assess the cost and expense thereof against the abutting property in the same manner and under the same laws and to the same extent as it is authorized to construct similar betterments in the territory within the corporate limits of said city which is not exempt from taxation, but before said council or governing body is authorized to construct any sidewalks or curbing in territory exempt from taxation, the owners of a majority of the frontage of and to be assessed for such sidewalks or curbing must file with the clerk of the city a written petition signed by them requesting such betterments to be made."