Visitor Question

Compensation for falling in unmarked hole in the sidewalk?

Submitted By: Albert (Hanford, California)

I was walking on the sidewalk to catch the bus. I did not notice a hole that was left open from a tree that was pulled out and wasn’t covered back up. I unknowingly stepped into the hole and fell and broke my ankle. There were no warning or caution signs or yellow tape that would indicate that there was a hole left open.

I went to the emergency room. They did x-rays and said that it was broken. I would like to know if I have a case against someone for this? I’m going through a lot of pain and suffering, and this injury has caused a very big inconvenience for now and the months to come. What can I do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Albert,

You certainly have a negligence claim. There are a couple directions can pursue. Some injury personal claims can be handled without an attorney. This normally applies to what is referred to as “soft tissue” injuries. Soft tissue injuries include minor cuts and bruises, sprains and strains, and the like.

More serious “hard injuries” should always be handled by an attorney. There’s just too much at stake in a serious injury claim. Hard injuries usually include broken bones, deep lacerations, scarring, serious burns, head trauma, and the like.

Your injury falls under the category of hard injuries. Most personal injury attorneys will not charge for initial office consultations. Your attorney will first determine whether the sidewalk is controlled or owned by the City of Hanford or by a private individual, such as an adjacent business or residence.

If the City is responsible for the sidewalk your attorney will likely file a “tort claim” against the City. Going through the tort claim process includes timely notifications, following specific regulations, and more. If the sidewalk is the responsibility of a private person or company, your attorney will pursue a negligence claim against their insurance company.

Be sure to seek the medical care you need. Make copies of all your medical records, medical and chiropractic bills, and receipts for out of pocket expenses like prescriptions, crutches, etc. If you are unable to work, ask your employer to verify your lost wages.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: November 26, 2013

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