Imagine this: you are walking around any city and you trip on an uneven sidewalk. Pretty easy to imagine, right? It probably has happened to you more than once. Is the city liable? Is the city negligent for failing to keep the sidewalks safe for pedestrians? The answer depends on the specifics of the situations. Courts have held that municipalities do not have a duty to keep sidewalks in perfect condition. Actually, Courts in Illinois have held that if a defect is less than 2 inches in height, the municipality is not liable at all. The exception is if there are aggravating circumstances. While there is no particular definition for what constitutes an aggravating circumstance, the courts have provided some examples. Busy commercial areas and dim lighting are considered aggravating circumstances.
This is not to say that the municipality does not have to keep the sidewalk in a reasonable safe condition. This rule only means that a municipality does have not duty to repair a sidewalk height differential of less than 2 inches.
While the 2 inches seems arbitrary (and it kind of is) the reasoning is that it would be too expensive for a municipality to try and fix every single small defect on every single sidewalk.
If you have questions about a recent fall, contact Loizzi Law Offices and we can talk about the specifics of your case.