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How Liable Are San Diego Beaches for Trip and Falls?

By San Diego Attorney on August 26, 2020

San Diego has faced a series of lawsuits over the past few years based around public safety, such as poor road maintenance, and that same liability may also extend to public beaches. The city is known for its extremely popular and beautiful beaches, as well as several hidden gems that make it such a beloved destination. However, improper maintenance of these beaches has led to multiple sidewalk tripping hazards that can cause serious injuries. Thus, it stands to reason that the city can be subject to several claims for damages from injured residents and visitors.

San Diego Public Liability for Trip and Fall Accidents

The Risk Management Department, Public Liability and Loss Recovery Division administers a self-insured program, supplemented by excess liability insurance, for public liability risks. A non-exclusive list of the types of claims that can be filed against the city includes auto accidents involving a city vehicle, sewer main backups and flooding, water main breaks and flooding, tow-aways, and, most importantly, fall injuries.

However, receiving compensation is not easy. Any tort claim against the city must be issued in writing pursuant to the California Tort Claims Act. The time limit for filing a claim with the Risk Management Department is six months after the date of the incident or injury. After your claim is received, Risk Management will conduct an investigation and has 45 days to process your claim.

Before submitting a claim, you will want to have your case reviewed by an attorney. The language in these documents can be complex and require a thorough understanding of San Diego laws to have a viable claim. In addition, the tight deadline means you will want to contact a law firm immediately to get the ball rolling on your case.

When Is a Municipality Liable for Slip or Trip and Fall Accidents?

If someone suffers a trip and fall on a sidewalk on city property, that does not automatically mean the city is liable. Plaintiffs must follow strict guidelines when filing a claim and have to fit into specific legal categories to be awarded damages.

In the case of a trip and fall at a public beach, a municipality can only be held liable if it was negligent and if the sidewalk was unreasonably unsafe. Additionally, to prove negligence, you must show that the city knew or should reasonably have known of the unsafe condition and failed to correct it or warn of the danger. Situations that may constitute negligence in a government tort claim can include:

  • Defective sidewalk design: Sidewalks that are too narrow, poorly lit, poorly leveled, overgrown with vegetation, or improperly curve can cause trip and fall accidents.
  • Uneven surfaces: Pedestrians can catch a toe and trip and fall on sidewalks with surface variations of as little as one-quarter to one-half inch.
  • Damaged surfaces: Deep cracks, potholes, bumps, and loose gravel on sidewalks are the leading causes of trip and fall accidents.

Additionally, a fall claim must have a legitimate injury as documented by a medical professional to recover damages. That means minor scrapes and bruises will likely not receive a dime, however, catastrophic injuries like hip fractures, head trauma, neck trauma, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries might just be eligible.

Why You Need an Attorney for a Beach Sidewalk Trip and Fall

Premises liability claims based on negligence can be challenging to prove on your own. When the responsible party is a municipality, the situation becomes even more complicated, with special requirements, procedures, and filing deadlines. If you have been injured in a beach slip or trip and fall, then you need the legal aid of a San Diego premises liability lawyer. To learn whether or not you have a case, call jD LAW at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free consultation.

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