If Poor Road or Sidewalk Maintenance Causes an Injury, is the City Liable?

May 22, 2018

Slip and fall incidents are one of the leading causes of injury in the United States, especially among elderly people and children. In the United States, property owners must keep their premises safe and free of obstructions but, in some states, cities and municipalities have different standards than traditional property owners. Though the standards are higher, regulations can make compensation from them challenging. Discuss your slip and fall case with one of the attorneys at Estey & Bomberger after a fall caused by poor road or sidewalk maintenance in San Diego or throughout Southern California.

Road Sidewalk Situation in San Diego

A frequent complaint amongst San Diego residence is the poor shape of the roads and sidewalks around town. And the situation has only become worse over time. A city study in 2015 found over 85,000 damaged sidewalk locations in the city, and the local government has accumulated a huge backlog of sidewalk and curb repairs that need to be resolved.

Premises Liability

Any injury that occurs on another person’s property falls under the umbrella of premises liability. A person may file a claim for premises liability if he or she suffered an injury on another person’s property because the property owner was negligent or reckless. To prove negligence in a premises liability case, you must prove the following:

  • The defendant owed you a duty
  • The defendant breached the duty
  • The breach caused your injury
  • Your injury is significant enough to need compensation

Like drivers on the road, property owners owe people a duty of care, which requires he or she keep the property in a condition that is reasonably safe for visitors. A property owner is liable for an injury if he or she knew about the dangerous condition should have known about the condition and did nothing to repair it. Because property owners must consistently check that their property is safe, they will be liable for a dangerous condition that exists for a long period of time.
Premises liability can be complicated, however. A property owner is not automatically responsible if someone suffers an injury on the property. For example, if a customer in a restaurant spills a glass of water and another person slips and injures him or herself, the restaurant owner is not automatically liable for the injury. The owner is only responsible if the spill existed for an unreasonable period of time before anyone cleaned it up.

City Property

City property functions in a similar way. Even though no one specific person owns the area, the court could find the city liable if someone suffers an injury on the city’s property. Like normal property owners, the city owes its citizens a duty to keep the sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition. Because citizens can alert city officials about dangerous conditions, California laws outlines the expectation that city and local governments repair dangerous conditions soon after they appear.
For example, if multiple citizens have called city officials about a crack in the sidewalk that is causing people to fall and the city does nothing about it, the court could find the city liable if someone suffers a serious injury on the crack and files a claim.

Potential Damages

If the court determines that the defendant is liable for your injuries, it may award you certain damages. You could receive compensation for medical expenses, which includes hospitalization fees, cost of doctor visits, physical therapy, and any other costs you had because of the injury.
The defendant may also need to compensate you for wages that you lost from days you needed off work. Lost wages includes a reduced earning capacity if you are no longer able to earn a salary as high as before the incident.
The court may also award you damages for pain and suffering, which focuses on compensating for a difference in overall quality of life. Your attorney may gather statements from people who can testify about your life before and after the injury.

Our San Diego Premises Liability Attorneys Can Fight For Your Case in San Diego

If you suffered an injury on city roads or sidewalks, you may be eligible to file a claim against the city or the residence or business adjacent to the problematic road defect. Estey & Bomberger, LLP can help you determine if your injuries were the result of city negligence. We have won our clients $500 million in settlements and verdicts in the last five years and would be happy to evaluate your case. Contact us in San Diego today for a free consultation! (619) 295-0035