What Do I Do If I Have Been Injured Because of A Sidewalk in Los Angeles?

In a city as large as Los Angeles, there are dozens of incidents a day where an individual trips and falls or injures themselves in another way due to sidewalk disrepair. Today, more than ever, it is clear that many sidewalks in and around Los Angeles are in bad shape. See a recent article in the Los Angeles times regarding this growing problem: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/1780/article/p2p-79124748/.

So what is a person to do when they are injured because of a sidewalk through no fault of their own? Hospital bills can add up quickly as well as past and future wage losses from not being able to work. This does not even begin to explore the emotional toll that a serious injury can have on a person who was simply walking down a pedestrian sidewalk. So, who is responsible? What should you do if you find yourself in the middle of a 'trip-and-fall incident'?

Who is responsible?

According to Los Angeles Municipal Code, Chapter VI, Sec. 62.104, it is the adjacent property owners' responsibility to maintain and repair the area between the curb and the back of the sidewalk. A property owner may be held liable if that property owner contributed in some way to the disrepair or danger of the sidewalk. However, there is a major exception to this general rule. The City of Los Angeles is liable when a curb, driveway, or sidewalk is in disrepair due to tree root growth. The City is held liable when the injured individual can show that the sidewalk posed a danger and caused the injury. Because of these various factors, there are often disputes between property owners and the City as to whether the accident is in fact due to tree root growth.

If you are involved in an accident due to an uneven or damaged sidewalk consult with an attorney who will make sure that all appropriate legally responsible parties are held accountable.

If you are a property owner that is being sued for a sidewalk accident, consult with an attorney about your options of holding the City liable for the sidewalk disrepair.

There may be other liable parties depending on the specific facts of your case, talk with an attorney to obtain further guidance on which parties may be at fault.

Proving your case

The injured party (plaintiff) has the burden of demonstrating that they were the victim of negligence as a result of the conduct of the other party (the defendant).

In California, to prove negligence, the injured person will have to show:

    1. the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care with respect to the injured person;
    2. the defendant breached that duty;
    3. the defendant's breach caused plaintiff's injuries; and
    4. the plaintiff suffered damages.
In other words, the injured person would have to show that:

    A. The property owner (or the City) caused the unsafe condition that led to the accident;
    B. The property owner (or the City) knew about the unsafe condition and did not try to correct it;
    C. That the property owner (or the City) should have known about the danger because a reasonable person would have seen the problem and taken steps to avoid an accident from occurring; and
    D. Because this accident did occur the injured party suffered damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc).
What should you do if you are involved in such a case?

  • Consult with an attorney as quickly as possible.
  • Maintain records and receipts of all medical bills and expenses that you incurred because of the incident.
  • The attorney should investigate the case, gather evidence, and file an action against all liable parties.
  • Keep in contact with your attorney and update him or her if there are unforeseen costs that arise caused by the accident (this can add to the damages that are recovered from the responsible party).
  • The attorney should keep you apprised of any settlement negotiations that take place and you can determine with the advice of your attorney whether or not to take the case to trial (be careful of settling the case before you have had time to consult with an attorney and the attorney has had time to review your case).
  • An attorney will retain all necessary experts and prepare the case to prove liability and damages if the case proceeds to trial.

You can reach an attorney at Theta Law Firm by calling us or sending us an email at law@thetafirm.com. Theta Law Firm can represent clients all across the State of California, including in any of the following counties: Alameda | Alpine | Amador | Butte | Calaveras | Colusa | Contra Costa | Del Norte | El Dorado | Fresno | Glenn | Humboldt | Imperial | Inyo | Kern | Kings | Lake | Lassen | Los Angeles | Madera | Marin | Mariposa | Mendocino | Merced | Modoc | Mono | Monterey | Napa | Nevada | Orange | Placer | Plumas | Riverside | Sacramento | San Benito | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Joaquin | San Luis Obispo | San Mateo | Santa Barbara | Santa Clara | Santa Cruz | Shasta | Sierra | Siskiyou | Solano | Sonoma | Stanislaus | Sutter | Tehama | Trinity | Tulare | Tuolumne | Ventura | Yolo | Yuba