What to Do if You’ve Been Injured on a Broken Public Sidewalk

Slips, trips, and falls can happen anywhere. When they happen in a shop or restaurant, you know who might bear the blame. But you face a different set of challenges when you suffer an injury on a sidewalk.

How Sidewalk Injuries Happen

Sidewalk injuries typically happen in one of two ways.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents happen when your feet lose traction. These accidents can happen on sidewalks due to:

  • Mud, gravel, or other debris
  • Liquid puddles
  • Frost

Although ice is rare in Los Angeles, it can happen when cold, windy, and humid weather causes a light frost layer to form.

As your feet slip forward, you fall backward. Unable to stop your fall, your back, hips, and head may strike the ground, resulting in hip fractures, spine injuries, and head trauma.

Trip and Fall Accidents

Trip and fall accidents occur when your foot or leg catches on something. On sidewalks, the most common causes of tripping include:

  • Objects
  • Broken or raised pavement
  • Holes

Your forward momentum causes you to fall forward. You may throw your arms out to protect yourself. But when your hands hit the pavement, you can suffer hand, wrist, or elbow injuries. The front of your body may strike the pavement, resulting in knee, face, and chest injuries.

Steps to Take After a Sidewalk Injury

After a sidewalk injury, you should take several steps to protect the possibility that you can recover injury compensation. 

Identify Where the Injury Happened

You need to document the sidewalk location where you suffered your injury. The location of the accident tells you and your lawyer who owned the sidewalk. 

For example, you might determine that, even though the sidewalk is accessible to the public, it belongs to a private owner. The sidewalk running from the road to a business might belong to the business.

The identity of the sidewalk’s owner makes a big difference in the procedures used to pursue injury compensation. To assert a claim against a government entity in California, you must give notice within six months of the injury. You have two years to assert personal injury claims against individuals and businesses.

Document How You Were Injured

To recover compensation, an injury lawyer must prove your injury resulted from negligence. Specifically, the lawyer must show that someone failed to act with reasonable care in maintaining a safe sidewalk. As a result, you need evidence that will prove:

  • How the injury happened
  • What happened to the sidewalk
  • Who might bear responsibility for the sidewalk’s condition

Photos of the accident scene can often give your lawyer a place to start their investigation. Suppose the photos show that the concrete of the sidewalk was raised at a seam.

The lawyer can show the photos to an expert witness to determine possible reasons. You will know who is responsible depending on the reasons. If the concrete was raised due to erosion caused by a building’s broken rain gutter, the building owner might be responsible for your injuries rather than, or in addition to, the city or county.

Seek Medical Assistance

You should seek appropriate medical assistance. Seeing a doctor after an injury provides several benefits, including:

  • Diagnosing your injuries
  • Obtaining a treatment plan
  • Identifying hidden injuries, like torn cartilage
  • Documenting the cause and extent of your injuries

Your medical records containing this information will help your lawyer prove the cause of your injuries and the losses you sustained.

Speak to a Lawyer as Soon as Practical

Many of the issues surrounding injuries on public sidewalks require extensive investigation and legal analysis. Starting early will ensure your lawyer has enough time to file a claim before time runs out. Remember that you must file any claims against the city or county of Los Angeles within six months of the injury.

Time can run quickly while you recover from an injury. Contact Saeedian Law Group, a Los Angeles personal injury law firm, after your sidewalk injury.