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Can I Sue the City of Los Angeles for Tripping on Uneven Sidewalks?

Imagine that it’s a typical day and you’re enjoying a walk on the sidewalks of Los Angeles. All of a sudden, you trip over a patch of uneven pavement and slam your knee on the concrete. The amount of pain you experience tells you that the injury is serious and you call 911 for help.

Fast forward six weeks and your life has completely changed. You are unable to return to work or perform daily tasks for yourself while the medical bills for your treatment pile up because you are unable to pay them. Out of money and in need of even more medical treatment, you consider contacting a personal injury lawyer to sue the city for your injuries.

If you’ve been injured on a city sidewalk, it seems fair that you would be able to sue the city for compensation, right?

Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to sue the government for sidewalk injuries, and Los Angeles can be particularly difficult. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover the compensation you need to get your life back.

The City’s Battle Over Sidewalk Repair

According to the Bureau of Street Statistics, only 60% of Los Angeles’ sidewalks are currently in good condition. Los Angeles’ sidewalks are so notoriously bad that the city was sued for $1.3 billion under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the poor condition of the sidewalks prevented individuals protected under the Act to use them. 

In response to the lawsuit, the city of Los Angeles created the Safe Sidewalks LA program which, among other things, reimburses property owners for half of the cost of sidewalk repair, up to $10,000.

The real struggle is between the property owner that the sidewalk fronts and the city: each claims that the other is at fault for the damaged pavement and insists that the other pay for repairs. 

Who is Responsible For Sidewalk Accident Injuries?

It’s not always clear who is liable for the sidewalk accident-related injuries: is it the fault of the property owner or the city? The answer is extremely complicated and varies greatly depending on the unique circumstances of your slip and fall accident. 

Under state law, property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their property in a safe and usable manner. Generally, if the property owner failed to make repairs or contributed to the unsafe conditions in some manner (like spilling a slippery substance on the pavement) then they will be held liable.

On the other hand, to win a case against the city, you must show that the city had notice of the poor condition of the sidewalk and failed to repair it. It is often difficult to prove that the city has been given proper notice of the sidewalk needing repairs and, without notice, the city can’t be held liable for failing to repair it. 

It’s also important to note that California is a comparative negligence state. This means that the defendant (either the city, the property owner, or both) is only liable for a percentage of the injury, equal to their fault in causing it. 

Also, accident victims only have a very limited amount of time to file a lawsuit: when suing a city, the potential plaintiff only has 6 months from the date of the accident to file.

How Much Compensation Will I Get If I Sue For My Injuries?

Just like any other personal injury lawsuit, there are a number of different types of compensation for which you may be eligible. This compensation includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Compensation for your past and future medical expenses
  • Loss of wages and loss of future earning capacity
  • Money designed to compensate you for the impact the injury had on your life, such as loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other damages determined by the court

Again, because California is a comparative negligence state, the amount of compensation you receive also depends on the percentage of liability you had in the accident.

Act Quickly If You’ve Gotten Hurt on a Los Angeles Sidewalk

If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk accident in Los Angeles, it’s imperative that you act within the six-month statute of limitations. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation from the city, the property owner, or both.

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