Slip and Fall AccidentTripped on a Sidewalk: When is the City Responsible?

November 24, 20230

Tripped on a Sidewalk: When is the City Responsible?

If someone trips, falls, and seriously hurts themselves on a damaged sidewalk, it is technically the city’s fault. However, the idea of suing the city may seem like a daunting step to most, which is quite understandable. Suing the city for personal injuries is not as straightforward as other personal injury lawsuits. There are certain leniencies and immunities that protect the government from most liability lawsuits.

That is not to say the city cannot be sued of course, because city councils are sued quite frequently. However, the percentage of lawsuits against the government that actually win is not very encouraging. What is encouraging is the fact that some of the personal injury compensation claims against the city do win, confirming the fact that it’s indeed possible to sue the city successfully. The key is in knowing exactly when the city can be held responsible, and we are going to discuss that next.

Get to Know the Immunities and the Limitations of Sidewalk Injuries

Different states implement slightly different versions of the same core immunities and limitations that protect the government from being successfully sued by a citizen for compensation claims. Therefore, the question should be less about when the city is responsible, and more about when the city can be held accountable under law. To find the right answer, you will need to know about the immunities and the relaxations that a state has going in its favor first. Only then can you judge the circumstances of your trip and fall injury to them. Let’s get started with the Statute of Limitations.

The Window to Sue a Public Entity is Much Smaller than Usual

In the context of personal injury lawsuits, Statutes of Limitations are deadlines for filing compensation claims against the defendant. Barring rare exceptions, no lawsuit can be brought forth by one party against another past the specified deadline in the concerned Statute of Limitations. This deadline is much shorter for government entities compared to private parties.

For example, the Statute of Limitations in California for filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the incident. However, that deadline shrinks down to just six months if the claimant wants to sue the city or any other public entity. Personal injury claims must be filed swiftly in any case but having a quarter of the usual time adds even more importance to the need for fast action here.

A Much Narrower Margin for Errors For Tripping Injuries

If the claimant makes any mistake whatsoever in their filing of the claim, it will be rejected immediately. Unfortunately, chances are that the news of that rejection will not be delivered as swiftly. A single mistake, or a legal loophole ion the claims process could ruin your chances of even starting the process.

Always consult with our slip and fall personal injury lawyers before filing a claim against any government entity. If you file a claim through your legal representative, they will ensure that there are no legal loopholes or common mistakes to justify an immediate rejection.

Sovereign Immunity

It is unlikely that the state will invoke sovereign immunity for a faulty sidewalk claim, as it does not align with the power’s purpose. However, it’s best to be aware that the state does have the power to claim sovereign immunity to shield itself from various types of negligence lawsuits. How it can be and might be invoked will depend on the concerned state, the public entity, and the circumstances of the case.

Financial Constraints

What really separates a public entity from a private entity in a slip and fall personal injury claim are the financial constraints. It will vary from state to state of course, but the maximum compensation that you can claim by suing the city is not going to be anywhere near what you would be able to claim from a private entity/individual.

For example, the maximum amount that someone can claim from a city in California for negligence in road maintenance is $10,000. The highest compensation amount offered in such claims against the city is $25,000 in the states of Delaware and Tennessee. On the other hand, public entities in the states of Arizona and Kentucky cannot be sued for negligence in a personal injury claim for more than $3,500 and $2500 respectively.

The points discussed here are meant to provide readers with an introduction to how the law works when the city is the defendant in a trip and fall injury claim. There is a lot more to discuss in terms of legal recourse and you can start that process by consulting with us.

You are welcome to visit Custodio & Dubey for a free consultation at: 445 S Figueroa Street Suite 2520 Los Angeles, CA 90071.

Alternatively, call us now for a free consultation on (213) 528-5795.