Understanding Sidewalk Accidents – A California Injury Lawyer’s Perspective
By Lou Cutrone
Over the course of time, sidewalks constructed by municipalities undergo stress from environmental factors and use. It is not uncommon to encounter uneven, buckled, cracked, or raised areas of sidewalk, particularly in residential areas. These defects in the condition of the sidewalk can constitute a hazard to pedestrians and frequently are the cause of accidents and injury. Accidents caused by unsafe sidewalk conditions are often considered slip or trip and fall accidents. Personal injuries resulting from sidewalk accidents vary in severity and can include cuts, abrasions, scrapes, bruising, sprains, strains, broken bones, and even facial wounds and head injuries or traumatic brain injuries (TBI). California injury lawyers in general and especially injury attorneys in Los Angeles are generally familiar with these kinds of incidents, but not all are aware of the various nuances associated with these kinds of accidents.
Like with any personal injury, if you or a loved one has been injured by a broken, damaged or defective sidewalk, you naturally have a number of worries and concerns. You are likely managing injuries, medical expenses, as well as time lost from work, school or other activities. Among these concerns, determining who is liable or responsible for an unsafe sidewalk condition can be confusing. Getting legal help from a California injury lawyer is always a good decision whenever you have questions about a personal injury.
Who Is Responsible for Sidewalk Maintenance–the City or a Private Party or Property Owner?
Most people are surprised to learn that sidewalk maintenance is usually the responsibility of the owner of the adjacent property. Adjacent means in front of or along the side of the property. In fact, many personal injury lawyers in California are likewise surprised. Throughout southern California, many municipal and city codes consider the sidewalk to be part of the private property it borders, despite the fact that many sidewalks were constructed by cities, municipalities, or other local government. In many situations, property owners are required, by law, to maintain the sidewalk in a safe, non-hazardous condition and can be held liable for the personal injuries caused by damaged, defective or broken sidewalks. California injury attorneys experienced with sidewalk related injuries can discern whether the city, county, state or the property owner or a combination of these entities may be liable.
For example, a Los Angeles Municipal Code holds property owners responsible for the maintenance of adjacent sidewalks, except when damage to the sidewalk is caused by city-owned trees growing on the parkway, which is the area between the edge of the sidewalk and the curb. Many other cities, municipalities, and counties in the southern California area have the same or similar laws. California injury lawyers should be familiar with these laws particularly in the locations where they practice. For example, an injury lawyer in Sherman Oaks should be versed in the local laws affecting that community.
In some circumstances, depending on the location of the sidewalk and the nature of its defect, the city, a public utility company (such as water, gas, telephone, cable, etc.) or some other entity may be liable for injuries suffered as a result of a sidewalk accident. Here again, an experienced California injury lawyer should know which entities are likely the responsible parties.
What To Do If You Suffer a Sidewalk Trip, Slip or Fall Accident
If you have been injured by a damaged, defective or broken sidewalk that is the responsibility of a private property owner, you may be entitled to make a claim for your damages under the property owner’s homeowners or other private policy of insurance. If the defective sidewalk falls under the limited scope of a city or municipality’s responsibility, you may still be able to make a claim against the City. There are different statutes of limitations that apply so be sure to call a qualified CA personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your injury. If the statute of limitations expires on your claim, you will be forever prevented from filing a lawsuit.
As an experienced injury attorney in Los Angeles, Cutrone & Associates is well versed in the various local laws regarding sidewalk accident cases and we have helped numerous individuals injured by dangerous or defective sidewalks achieve compensation for their injuries. If you or someone close to you has suffered a sidewalk accident, contact the experienced California injury lawyers at Cutrone & Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us,we’re standing by to help.