Q: I recently fell down and broke my elbow on a city sidewalk. The sidewalk was raised up at least five inches because it is old and is not in good repair. This is the street that I live on, and I know that the sidewalk has been like this for many years. Can I make a claim against the city for not maintaining the sidewalk?
A: Most cities and other municipalities have enacted “prior written notice” ordinances. What this means is that before you can sue a city, you first have to prove that the city had received written notice of the defective sidewalk. Written notices of defective sidewalks, roads or other municipal properties are maintained by the city clerk.
In other words, unless someone notified the city of the defective sidewalk, and unless that notification was in writing, you will probably not have the right to be compensated by the city irrespective of the length of time that the sidewalk was in poor condition.