The leading cause of serious injury and death to older people is from falling. We often see this when people trip and fall on sidewalks causing broken bones to hips, arms & wrists—as well as head injuries. These injuries can result in hospitalization and surgeries. If someone trips and falls on a sidewalk there are some very important things to know.
First, document what caused the fall. Was there some type of defect or unsafe condition? Take photos, videos, and measurements. To recover for damages for medical bills, wage loss and pain & suffering you need to show it was an unsafe or dangerous condition. We often see sidewalks that are uneven creating a ridge big enough for somebody to trip over, especially older people who do not lift their feet as high as younger people. An uneven sidewalk can be caused by a tree root, defective construction, or just passage of time. A height difference of an inch or two can be deemed an unsafe condition.
Second, who owned or controlled the sidewalk. Was it by a private owner or the government like a city, county, state, park district, school district or some other governmental entity? This is very important because if the sidewalk is owned or controlled by a private person or entity, in California you have 2 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit. But with a public entity you have only 6 months to file a formal claim. You may be able to file a late claim if you have a good excuse, but they are generally denied. And, if you miss the deadline to file a claim or lawsuit you will not be able to recover any damages.
Third, usually these types of claims are denied by the insurance company. If you were seriously injured by an unsafe sidewalk, talk to a lawyer to see if you have a case. The sooner you do this the better. The lawyer may: (1) Hire an investigator or safety expert or engineer to inspect the scene and take more photos, videos and measurements, and take witness statements; (2) Research if there have been other claims or lawsuits; (3) Contact the insurance company and ask them to preserve any evidence.
I am Glenn Guenard of Guenard & Bozarth, LLP. I have successfully handled hundreds of trip and fall cases on sidewalks in the past 33 years. My firm routinely handles severe and fatal injuries that have a major effect on people’s lives. We have more than 60 years of experience representing injured people. We would be honored to represent you. We are totally committed to each client’s case because each client has a special story to be told. Call us anytime at (889) 809-1075 or my cell (916) 296-7570 or visit www.gblegal.com.