The mild weather in Northern California makes walking particularly appealing. Sidewalks allow pedestrians to safely enjoy a pleasant stroll or to walk to work and do errands. But such trips aren’t without risk: unsafe sidewalks can pose a serious danger to unsuspecting pedestrians. At the Law Offices of Richard J. Staskus in San Jose, we focus solely on personal injury law and have represented pedestrians hurt in trip and fall accidents on defective sidewalks since 1977. We can help you recover damages if you tripped on a sidewalk defect and were injured.
Sidewalks are an integral part of any municipality, whether a large city like San Jose or a smaller suburban town. Yet, maintenance of this important infrastructure is often left in the hands of private property owners — an arrangement that can create hazards for pedestrians. Though many businesses take their maintenance duties seriously, others are reluctant to spend money on expensive sidewalk repairs.
This arrangement also creates a complicated liability scenario. The city owns the sidewalk, but the property owner may be held liable for accidents that occur on an unsafe city-owned sidewalk that abuts his property.
California recognizes the trivial defect defense, which reduces premises liability for minor sidewalk hazards. A variation in sidewalk elevation of one inch may be considered too trivial to be a risk to pedestrians. However, minor defects can actually be the most dangerous because a pedestrian may not notice them and fail to take action to avoid them. You may not see the raised sidewalk until you trip on it, and yet the fall may be just as serious as if you had tripped over a large gaping hole.
The trivial defect rule shifts the property owner’s responsibility of keeping the sidewalk in safe condition to the pedestrian’s need to remain vigilant. We counter the trivial defect defense by emphasizing the hidden nature of the defect and the property owner’s failure to warn those who use his sidewalks.
A pedestrian who trips over a sidewalk defect may have the good fortune to fall onto a lush, green lawn, but he may also land on hard, unforgiving cement and sustain serious injury. The natural inclination is for the pedestrian to throw his arms forward to catch himself, which can result in such common injuries as a broken or sprained wrist, elbow or fingers. But in other scenarios, pedestrians may not have time to take any protective action and land on their hip or back, making a trip and fall particularly dangerous for older pedestrians. No matter your age or the circumstances of your sidewalk fall, we will work to hold the responsible party accountable and seek the maximum possible damage amount for the harm you’ve suffered.
If you’ve suffered injuries due to a sidewalk defect in the Bay Area, help is available. Call the Law Offices of Richard J. Staskus in San Jose at 408-606-9150 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation. You do not owe us fees unless we recover compensation for you.