When you think of sidewalk falls, your first thought is likely a trip and fall that leaves you with a scraped knee and bruised ego. However, sidewalk falls can result in severe injuries, which may leave you wondering. Who is responsible for a sidewalk fall in CA? The circumstances of the fall and where it took place will determine who is responsible. The liable party will likely be private property owners or government entities. Contact our injury attorneys today to determine if you have a viable case and who may be liable for your injuries.
Common Causes of Sidewalk Falls
Some sort of hazardous condition causes most sidewalk falls. In our fast-paced society, pedestrians do not always see a dangerous situation coming, and sometimes those conditions are not obvious.
Some of the most common causes of sidewalk falls include the following:
- Large cracks in the sidewalk;
- Exposed tree roots;
- Uncleared debris;
- Raised and uneven pavement;
- Crumbling curbs;
- Unmarked hazards (e.g., wet pavement, spills); and
- Sunken sidewalks sections.
There are many other potential causes of a sidewalk fall. Regardless of the nature of the hazard that caused your fall, the injury attorneys at the Frederick Law Firm are here to assist you. We will assess your case and determine whether you have a valid claim.
Who Is Liable in a Sidewalk Fall?
Can you sue if you fall on a sidewalk? The answer is sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Sidewalk falls liability depends mainly on where the accident occurred. Generally, the duty to safely maintain a sidewalk rests with the property owner or the local government.
Under California law, the local government entity usually owns the sidewalk adjacent to private property. However, in the same breath, those whose property abuts a sidewalk must maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition that will not endanger people or property. Essentially, liability in a sidewalk accident case depends on the defect or dangerous condition and whether it was in the property owner’s control. Under California law, the plaintiff must typically prove that the responsible party knew or should have known that the sidewalk was unsafe and failed to rectify the hazardous condition.
Statute of Limitations for California Sidewalk Falls
Generally, in a California slip and fall accident, you must file a civil lawsuit two years from the fall date. The two-year timeframe holds if the party you are filing suit against is a private property owner. However, if the responsible party is a governmental agency (e.g., municipality), you may have as little as six months to file your claim. Regardless of who might be at fault, it is crucial to take legal action immediately. The deadline for filing sidewalk fall lawsuits can be extremely short, and time goes by fast—especially when you are in the midst of recovering from an injury. Contact our lawyers for a consultation as soon as you can.
Common Sidewalk FalI Injuries
A sidewalk fall can lead to more severe injuries than you may initially think. Common sidewalk fall injuries include the following:
- Other traumatic brain injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Wrist and arm injuries,
- Hip fractures,
- Chronic pain, and
- Spinal cord and neck injuries.
It is common to experience multiple injuries simultaneously from a sidewalk accident.
For example, you may break your wrist and sustain a shoulder injury from the same incident. Many injuries require extensive medical treatment, including an emergency room trip, orthopedic care, surgery, physical therapy, pain management, and more.
If you are an accident victim, consulting a personal injury attorney in California is crucial.
Sidewalk Fall Damages
Your sidewalk fall case may settle outside of court or may proceed to a trial. A successful plaintiff will be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. These compensatory damages may include:
- Present and future medical costs,
- Lost wages and inability to earn,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Mental anguish.
In rare instances, if the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious, a plaintiff may also receive punitive damages. The damages available also depend on insurance policy limits and applicable law. A sidewalk fall attorney in California will advocate for the best settlement or highest award on your behalf.
What Should You Do After a Sidewalk Fall?
You might be in shock, embarrassed, and hurt in the moments following a sidewalk fall. In the chaos and confusion, it is common to feel overwhelmed by what to do next. Here are three simple tips to take following a sidewalk fall
Seek Medical Treatment
First and foremost, you should get medical attention after a sidewalk fall. Even if you do not feel hurt, shock and adrenaline can mask injuries and pain. So you should always be seen by a doctor.
Document the Fall
If you are able, you should document the accident scene. Snapping photos and videos with your phone is the easiest and most efficient way to document the scene. Having a picture of the dangerous sidewalk will leave little in dispute as to its condition later. It is also a good idea to make a note of any potential witnesses, video surveillance, and weather conditions.
Make a Report
While it is not always possible or feasible to let the property owner know you fell on their sidewalk, you should make them aware of what happened if you can. It is also a good idea to make a police report of the fall, primarily if it occurred in a location where it is not immediately apparent who might be responsible for that piece of sidewalk. For instance, if you fall on a sidewalk walking over an overpass instead of directly in front of a private home, having a well-documented report of the exact location can be vital later.
Sidewalk Fall Attorneys
With over 40 years of experience, Frederick Law Firm is committed to helping fall victims seek the compensation they deserve. A severe fall can change your life. You shouldn’t have to bear the physical, emotional, and financial costs alone. Let our dedicated personal injury attorneys work for you. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.