Can a city be liable for creating hazardous walking on a cobble stone street?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a city be liable for creating hazardous walking on a cobble stone street?

I was working making a delivery on a cobblestone street. While walking on the cobblestone street, the angle of one of the cobblestones caused my foot to roll and turn underneath me. The injury from this is a sprained ankle and sprained foot. I was diagnosed by doctors using X-rays and an MRI. This injury is going into the sixth month and I have lost several thousands in wages. Can the city be held liable?

Asked on February 15, 2019 under Personal Injury, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

To have a viable or winnable lawsuit, you'd need to be able to prove:
1) The cobblestone street was unreasonably dangerous. Since cobblestone streets are not considered intrinsically or naturally dangerous, you'd have to show that this street, or at least the part you fell on, was signifiantly more dangerous than the norm. If it was in line with how cobblestone streets are normally, there is no liability, since cobblestone streets are not considered a hazard or wrongful thing generally.
2) You'd have to show that the city in fact knew of the above unreasonable danger (if there was one), such as by having received complaints, or at least that it was SO obvious the city logically must have known about it. If there was no knowledge of a hazard, the city cannot be held liable for allowing it to exist.
3) You'd have to show that you were not being careless and that your own carelessness, if any, did not cause the fall. You write that you were making a delivery; if you were holding an excessive amount of weight, could not see where you were putting your feet because your package(s) blocked your view, or were hurring to make the delivery, your own carelessness could undercut, even effectively negate, any fault of the city, because people may not recover compensation for their own fault or carelessness.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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