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Slip-and-Fall Liability and Dangerous Public Sidewalks

By Peterson Law Group on September 10, 2023

An unkept public side walk with cracks and weeds

Hazardous public sidewalks can cause serious slip or trip-and-fall injuries to residents and visitors who use them. California has some of the most dangerous sidewalks in the country. Cracked, broken, or uneven sidewalks numbering in the thousands have led to numerous complaints. Trip or slip-and-fall accidents can cause a range of severe injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) and fractured bones. When pedestrians are hurt by dangerous sidewalks, responsible parties should be held accountable.

What Are the Common Causes of Dangerous Sidewalks?

Over time, without adequate maintenance, public sidewalks can deteriorate into states of disrepair. Various hazards can make sidewalks unsafe for use, including:

  • Uneven pavement
  • Cracks and potholes
  • Protruding tree roots
  • Standing water
  • Debris
  • Poor maintenance

What Types of Injuries Can Dangerous Sidewalk Accidents Cause?

Potholes, cracks, standing water, and other sidewalk hazards can cause pedestrians to twist an ankle, trip and fall forward, or slip and fall on their backs. Slip-and-fall accidents are a common cause of broken hips. Victims who trip and fall forward frequently fracture their wrists or injure their arms or shoulders when they instinctively throw their arms out to break the fall. Other injuries often sustained in sidewalk accidents include:

  • Knee and ankle injuries
  • Facial and oral injuries
  • Concussions and traumatic brain injury
  • Tailbone fractures
  • Lacerations and abrasions

Who May Be Held Liable for Dangerous Sidewalk Conditions?

Injuries caused by dangerous sidewalks may require hospitalization, extensive medical treatment, and time away from work, in addition to the emotional toll a painful injury can take. After a serious injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to bring a civil action seeking compensation for your losses against the responsible party. Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, you may be eligible to claim damages including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages or earnings
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Disfigurement or disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

Under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, adjacent property owners are responsible for maintaining and repairing the area between the curb and the back of the sidewalk. One major exception to this rule is when a sidewalk is in disrepair due to tree root growth. In that case, the city may be held liable if the injured party can prove that the sidewalk posed a danger and caused the injury.

Your lawyer can investigate your accident to determine liability, secure evidence to support your claim, assess the full extent of your damages, negotiate skillfully on your behalf, and fight for full compensation in court if necessary.

How Do You Proceed If the City Is Liable for Your Injuries?

In California, before suing a government entity, you must first file a claim that meets the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act within a six-month time limit. If your claim is rejected by the city or government entity, you have the option to sue in civil court. It is essential to speak with an experienced injury attorney before you file a claim.

If you have already filed a claim, and the government has offered you a settlement, it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney before you accept or sign anything. Having an experienced trial attorney representing you can significantly increase your chances of a fair recovery.

Here to Assist You on the Road to Recovery

At Peterson Law Group PC, we have been providing clients with exceptional legal services in negotiation and litigation for more than three decades. Our Irvine dangerous conditions attorneys have been awarded membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and listed among California Super Lawyers. Our firm has been named among the Best Law Firms for four consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report.

If you or your loved one has been injured by a dangerous public sidewalk, don’t hesitate to contact us at (949) 955-0127 to learn more about your legal options.

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