Responsibility for sidewalk maintenance depends on where the walkways is located and what the state and municipal ordinances say about who is responsible. Sometimes it can be private property owners located adjacent to the walk or homeowners associations or businesses on which the walkway exists. On public sidewalks, though, responsibility for maintenance usually rests with the county, city or town government.
If you suffer injury in an Orlando sidewalk trip-and-fall, your claim is likely to be against the City of Orlando, which is responsible for sidewalk grinding of sections that have become lifted, cracked or uneven. Although old English common law established the idea of governmental “sovereign immunity” from torts, F.S. 768.28 outlines the state’s waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions, allowing it to be treated just like any other negligent party or vicariously liable employer. However, there are a number of exceptions, which is why it’s so important to work with an Orlando injury attorney with a track record of success in cases against government agencies. Ask for specific examples when you’re deciding which attorney to hire.
One of the exceptions outlined in the statute involves something called discretionary function immunity (the opposite of which is ministerial function, for which governments can be held liable). These are technical and complex legal concepts, but the easiest explanation is that ministerial duty applies to a public employee’s official duty, without room for the worker to exercise any discretion. On the other hand, discretionary function is that which involves a function of one’s public employee job that requires the individual to exercise some degree of judgment in carrying out the task. Continue reading →