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Who is responsible for hazardous conditions on sidewalks?

Who is at fault for that uneven California sidewalk that caused you to trip, fall and hurt yourself? The answer might surprise you! Yes, it is possible to recover financial compensation for a premises liability suit related to a trip-and-fall accident on a sidewalk - but a smart victim takes the time to learn about his or her legal rights before the case ever begins.

The success of a premises liability suit may depend on the property owner who is being targeted for compensation. Many California jurisdictions require property owners - even homeowners - to maintain sidewalks, curbs and gutters in good condition. These regulations are often so specific that they identify reasonable parameters for sidewalk crack size. For instance, cracks may only be allowed if they are 3/4-inch wide - otherwise, they must be repaired.

That is not the end of the story, though. Although property owners may be held responsible if the sidewalk is damaged through normal wear and tear, additional parties may be brought into the suit if the damage was the result of another event. Say the sidewalk was damaged by a water main break that came from city-owned pipes. Or, the sidewalk structure was compromised because of a city-owned tree. In those cases, the municipal government may also be held liable as a "negligent property owner" that caused an unsafe condition to injure a victim.

Those who have suffered injuries because of this type of negligent property owner deserve financial compensation for their injuries. Finding the right target for those legal efforts can be a challenge - but an attorney may be able to provide more direction. You may be entitled to compensation after your trip-and-fall accident on a California sidewalk.

Source: SF Weekly, "Who’s to blame for an uneven sidewalk?," Chris Dolan, March 22, 2017

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