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Who Is Liable for a Sidewalk Slip and Fall /Trip and Fall in California?

While out and about, you likely spend a lot of time walking to local shops, beaches, parks, and public spaces within neighborhoods by utilizing sidewalks and crosswalks. However, despite sidewalks being generally safe, pedestrians are not always free of any hazards or dangers. Many unsafe conditions, such as uneven surfaces, have contributed to slip-and-fall accidents throughout the state of California.

Across the nation, slip-and-fall accidents account for millions of emergency department visits annually. Although various factors contribute to the severity and possibility of injury, slip-and-fall accidents are dangerous for every age group. If you have been injured due to an unsafe sidewalk, a Irvine personal injury lawyer at Benchmark Injury Law may be able to help.

The Issue of Liability in Sidewalk Slip and Fall Cases

The issue of liability in sidewalk slip-and-fall cases can be complicated. Liability refers to who is legally responsible, and therefore who pays for the damages caused by a slip-and-fall accident. In California, there are commonly two types of property owners who might be liable for injuries sustained on their premises: private property owners (such as homeowners), public entities, including government entities and city, county or state organizations (public sidewalks), Here’s what you need to know about each:

Private Property Owners

Private property owners are responsible for maintaining their property, which includes sidewalks upon their property, in a reasonably safe condition A property owner may be held liable for injuries and damages sustained upon the property as a result of the failure to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition, especially if the owner was previously notified of the injury-causing condition.

Public Entities

Just like a private property owner, a public entity must maintain public sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition. So, if you’re injured as a result of a dangerous condition while walking on a public sidewalk, you may be able to hold the public entity liable for your injuries.

It is sometimes more difficult to sue a public entity because of governmental immunity, which prohibits lawsuits against the state for certain negligent acts. However, governmental immunity is not absolute, and there are cases where a public entity may be held liable for injuries sustained upon a public sidewalk. It is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable in government tort claims, and can help you determine whether a cause of action lies against the public entity.

Common Sidewalk Hazards and Injuries

Some of the most common sidewalk hazards include cracks, potholes, and tripping hazards such as unevenness in concrete, or shoddy patchwork. These hazards can result in trips, slips, and falls that may lead to severe injuries, including sprains or strains, fractures, and head injuries. If these conditions exist, a property owner has the obligation to warn of the condition, or to repair it.

What is the Statute of Limitation for Filing a Slip and Fall Injury Claim in California?

California’s statute of limitations for slip and fall cases is two years, meaning you must file your claim – taking care to properly file your lawsuit in the proper court – within two years from the date of the accident. If it was not possible to discover that an injury occurred until well after an incident, such as when an illness arises or becomes more evident over time, there may be an exception regarding how long one can wait before filing suit.

In contrast to this general rule, when bringing a claim against a public entity, like a city or county in California, for example, an injured party must notify the public entity of the claim and the facts of the injury within six months from when the injury occurred.

What Are Some Other Considerations in a Slip and Fall Litigation?

In some cases, as a matter of law,  a defect is so minor that it cannot be considered an unreasonable risk of harm. In those instances, you may not be able to recover for your injuries. This is known as the trivial defect defense. If applicable, it operates as a total defense.

For example, if you were walking down a sidewalk and tripped on a piece of wood protruding from beneath it that was less than one inch in length, this likely would not be enough to sustain your case against the city or property owner who manages the sidewalk. There are many exceptions to the trivial defect defense. A personal injury attorney who is well versed in trip and fall cases will be able to help you determine the likelihood of prevailing on your claim.

What You Can Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

After you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, there are several essential steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some suggestions:

Get Medical Attention

The first thing to do after a slip-and-fall is to get checked out by your doctor or the emergency room at your local hospital. A medical professional will be able to examine your injuries and determine the extent of your injuries, and what treatment you may need depending on your injuries. It is important to receive medical attention after a slip-and-fall accident even if you do not feel hurt.

Get a Report

Notify someone of authority at the property, and ensure that a written report is created. A written report ensures that the incident is documented, which can help in disputes later about what happened, and what caused the incident. If possible, take photographs of the condition that caused you to fall, as well as any visible injuries.

Contact Witnesses

Find witnesses who can help support your claim. If you can find someone who saw what happened or knows about the incident make sure to get their names and contact information so that they can be contacted later on.

Talk to an Attorney at Benchmark Law Firm in California

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, the lawyer at Benchmark Injury Law will fight for you to recover compensation for your injuries. Our unique client-based approach ensures we develop strong relationships and prioritize client service to provide the best possible results.

Benchmark Injury Law in Irvine, CA, strives to provide a personal touch to our services and exhausts all resources to ensure you receive the best possible outcome. Call (949) 504-9031 for a free consultation or complete our contact form for a chance to speak with a knowledgeable Irvine attorney.

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Have you been injured? We can help.