If you have recently been injured from a fall on a sidewalk in Los Angeles, you may be wondering if you have a personal injury claim. A walkway or sidewalk with cracks, ice, or uneven surfaces, puts pedestrians and users at risk of falling and suffering physical harm. If this happens to you, you may be wondering who is responsible for your injuries and medical bills. Our California pedestrian accidents attorneys can review your case and advise who may be liable for your damages and whether you have a claim.
Sidewalks vs Private Property
It is often more challenging to determine who is responsible for an accident on a sidewalk because it is less clear who owns or is in charge of maintaining it. This is very different from private property, where it is easy to determine who owns the property and retains control over it.
It may be challenging to determine who caused unsafe conditions that led to a sidewalk injury. For example, if a sidewalk is in front of a store and you slip, it may be because an employee did not clean up a spill or ice. Alternatively, the dangerous area that caused your accident may be due to work being done by the city that was not correctly closed off or cleaned up.
If you wish to bring a claim for your sidewalk injury, you must identify who owns or controls the property. This party is generally responsible for property safety and maintenance of the sidewalk. An inquiry may reveal the correct party is a private property owner, a business owner, or the city or state government in the case of a public sidewalk.
Claims Against the City or State of California
California law governs injury or negligence claims against public entities. Los Angeles or the state of California are considered public entities. If a defective sidewalk is on public property, there are specific rules that you must follow to bring a claim against the government. Most importantly, you have less time to file your claim. The statute of limitations in California on a standard slip and fall claim is two years. But, if your claim is against the government, you will have six months to notify the public entity. After that, you will likely have to wait at least 45 days to hear a response. Only after that can you file a lawsuit against the government.
Proving Your Claim
The next step in the process is collecting evidence that proves your claim. You will need proof that shows the defendant is responsible for the conditions that caused your injury. You must also show that the premises owner was aware or should have been aware of the sidewalk defect but failed to make timely repairs. In total, you need also establish four things to have a successful sidewalk injury claim:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care and that you were on property lawfully
- The property owner breached its duty of care by failing to inspect the sidewalk for defects, repairing them, or warning visitors of known hazards
- The breach of duty directly caused your accident
- As a result, you suffered compensable damages from the fall, such as medical bills or lost wages
If you can prove these four elements, you can establish the defendant’s legal responsibility for your accident. However, you should know that the defendant may claim comparative negligence in defense. This is an argument that you contributed to the accident. For example, perhaps you were texting and walking. This defense can reduce the value of your claim. Our firm knows how to bring successful sidewalk accident claims and argue against defensive claims of comparative negligence. We know how to maximize your recovery when property owners or the government fights back. Contact our office today for a free consultation about your claim.