If you become injured by falling on a sidewalk, you need to know who to hold accountable. This issue can be somewhat trickier than it may seem at first. There could be several factors that determine exactly who is at fault.
First, you need to establish that the condition of the sidewalk was unreasonably unsafe and that the property owner should have reasonably known about the unsafe conditions.
Second, you need to determine whether the condition of the sidewalk that led to your fall was caused by a private property owner or by the municipality in charge of the walkway. In some places, a property owner can be held responsible if he or she contributed to the damage or otherwise dangerous condition of the sidewalk. In others, the responsibility for maintaining sidewalks falls squarely on the shoulders of the municipality.
If the municipality is at fault, there are additional considerations. If you plan to sue the municipality for damages, you typically have to provide notification to it in a dramatically reduced timeline — as little as 30 days. In addition, you will typically have a significantly truncated timeline for filing the lawsuit, according to the municipality’s statute of limitations.
To complicate things further, there are differences between state highway and locally maintained property. If the area in which you fell happens to rest along a state-maintained roadway, you will need to file suit against the state rather than the municipality.
To learn more about this complex issue, speak with a Los Angeles premises liability attorney.