Who Is Liable in California for Uneven Sidewalks?
Sidewalks are often heavily used in California cities, towns, and neighborhoods, as pedestrians use them to travel to and from work, school, home and hobbies. Unfortunately, many slip and fall or trip and fall accidents occur each year on California sidewalks. When an injury is caused by a broken or uneven sidewalk, the injured person may be able to secure compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.
Who Is Responsible for an Uneven Sidewalk?
The responsibility for keeping a sidewalk in good condition falls upon the owner of the property on which the sidewalk is placed. While a few sidewalks are part of private property owned or leased by an individual or business, most California sidewalks are the responsibility of a local municipality, such as a city or county government.
Different rules apply when the party in charge of sidewalk maintenance is a government agency or office, rather than a private individual or company.
How Can I Show That a Municipality Was Negligent?
To demonstrate that you are entitled to compensation, you must show that the unevenness in the sidewalk caused your injuries. To succeed in your case, you and your California trip and fall attorney must demonstrate that:
- The sidewalk was in an unreasonably unsafe condition,
- The municipality knew or should have known about the unreasonably unsafe condition of the sidewalk,
- The municipality failed to fix the condition within a reasonable time, and
- This failure to address the unreasonably unsafe condition caused your injury.
Be aware: while municipalities have a duty to keep the sidewalks reasonably safe for pedestrian use, many places make property owners—businesses and homeowners—responsible for the condition of the sidewalks in front of their own property. When determining who is liable for your slip and fall injury, it’s important to consider the role that both the municipality and the closest property owners played.
Other Factors to Consider in a California Uneven Sidewalk Injury Case
In addition to meeting the standard mentioned above, you’ll also need to be aware of a number of factors that often come into play in a case involving an uneven sidewalk. Talk to your lawyer if any of these might apply to your situation:
- “Trivial Defect.” If the unevenness was very small—less than one inch–the court may find that it was reasonable for the municipality or property owner not to repair it.
- Your Shoes. Hang on to the shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident, and do not wear them again. You may need them to prove that your footwear was appropriate to the task of navigating the sidewalk—and that your fall was caused by the dangerously uneven pavement, not your shoe choice.
- Trees. When a tree grows under the sidewalk, causing uneven or broken pavement, the liable party is typically the owner of the tree.
If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk slip and fall or trip and fall accident in California, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you determine what happened and seek the compensation you deserve. Contact J&Y Law today for a free consultation.