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Municipal Liability in Pedestrian Accidents


If you have been out walking in Los Angeles recently, you should not be surprised to see crumbling city sidewalks. According to an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the city is offering as much as $10,000 in rebates to homeowners to fix the crumbling sidewalks themselves, all part of an effort to make the sidewalks accessible to the disabled. But hazardous sidewalks pose another issue to the city and its pedestrians—it is easy to fall while walking on them.

Injuries Caused by Hazardous Sidewalks

Most pedestrians can easily walk over a few cracks in a sidewalk. However, huge potholes or grossly uneven pieces of pavement can trap your feet or cause you to trip.

If you fall, you can suffer any of the following serious injuries:

Even relatively minor cuts might become serious if they get infected because of improper cleaning and dressing. Pedestrians who fall experience significant physical and emotional pain and may have to stay home as they recover, thus missing out on income from work.

Holding the City Responsible for Your Injuries

For more than 70 years, injured pedestrians could sue the city for injuries sustained because of defective sidewalks. In Lorraine v. City of Los Angeles, a woman stepped up onto the sidewalk near the intersection of Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard. After taking a few steps, her foot caught in a hole in the pavement and she fell violently forward, suffering a fracture and other injuries. After winning her lawsuit, the city appealed.

On appeal, the court upheld the judgment in favor of the pedestrian. The court stated that the hole in the sidewalk had existed for a month to six weeks, yet the city had not fixed it. Because of the hole’s size, and its presence for more than a month, the court held that the city had constructive notice that it existed, even if the plaintiff did not complain to the city before her injury.

Gather Documentation

After an injury, the best thing you can do for your case is to quickly document the surrounding circumstances. Hang on to all medical records and bills, since these will show the extent of your injuries. Also, write down how much pain you are feeling and where.

If possible, ask someone to return to the scene of the accident as soon as possible and take pictures of the broken pavement. Photos with a smartphone are acceptable. You do not want to delay since the city might quickly try to fill in the hole or rip up the broken sidewalk and resurface it. Your personal injury lawyer will find these pictures helpful when establishing the defective nature of the sidewalk.

Speak With a Los Angeles Sidewalk Injury Lawyer

If you tripped and fell on an L.A. sidewalk, the law might entitle you to financial compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Greene Broillet & Wheeler are aggressive advocates on behalf of our clients, and we look forward to obtaining full and fair compensation on your behalf. Suing a municipality has special administrative rules and tight deadlines, so don’t delay contacting us.

Call for your free consultation at (866) 634-4525 or fill out our online contact form.