On March 13, 2013, a damaged sewer line caused a massive sinkhole in a
Holyoke sidewalk. The fissure measured several feet in diameter and was
estimated to be approximately 10 to 20 feet deep. United Water, the utility
responsible for the sewer lines in that part of Massachusetts, worked
feverishly to repair the damage as quickly as possible.
There were no reports of injuries resulting from the
sinkhole, although it snarled traffic at the corner of Resnic Boulevard and Beech
Street. Had there been injuries, however, the people injured might have
had the right to sue for damages.
Here in Boston, it is
the responsibility of the city to maintain sidewalks properly. The city will pay legitimate claims for
people suffering injury due to a sidewalk defect caused by the City, or
one which is not promptly repaired. However, those claims must be submitted
within 30 days in order to be considered valid. It is also important to
document the incident and obtain reports from medical professionals as
needed. It is also vital to obtain photographs of the accident scene as
soon as possible.
It is important to note that if you slip and fall due to snow and ice on
a sidewalk outside of someone's building, or on private property,
like a parking lot, the owner of the property and not just the city may
liable. The Massachusetts Supreme Court
ruled in 2010 in the case of Papadopoulos v. Target Corp. that private citizens are
responsible for clearing the ice and snow from their sidewalks, regardless
of whether it is a natural accumulation or an accumulation due to snow
plows. In its place would be the premises liability standard of reasonable care.
If you or a loved one suffers injury because of an accident involving a
sidewalk defect, it is important to work with an experienced Boston
personal injury attorney such as those at the Law Offices of Steven R. Whitman. A good attorney
can often make the difference between getting the money you are entitled
to and getting nothing but a denial from the courts.