Every one of us has stumbled on an uneven sidewalk at one time or another. Occasionally the trip turns into a fall and when that happens people get hurt. Sometimes the injuries are life changing. So who is at fault when a section of sidewalk is raised, creating an uneven edge and a potential trap for a pedestrian? Is it the city’s responsibility? Or the county’s responsibility? Or the owner of the land that the sidewalk crosses?
California has created a set of codes to deal with these issues. These codes are found in the California Government Code. Section 835 establishes that an injured party has the “burden of proving” all the elements to satisfy the code. He or she must prove that there was, in fact,1) a dangerous condition and that 2) the public entity either created or failed to remedy the dangerous condition and 3) the public entity had actual or “constructive” knowledge of the dangerous condition. Each of these requirements must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence which means the injured party often has to enlist the help of experts to voice an opinion on the issues. In addition to the above, many cities and counties have local ordinances that shifts the responsibility to the owner of the property that the side walk crosses.
Every trip or slip that results in injury requires a complete evaluation. The sooner that evaluation is done the more likely a successful outcome. Our office provides free consultations on these matters.