Visitor Question

Do I have a case after tripping on an uneven public sidewalk?

Submitted By: Andrew (San Juan Capistrano, CA)

On New Year’s Eve 2011, I was walking to a restaurant to get lunch with my friends and fellow bandmates (who shall go unnamed until I know I can use them as witnesses).

On the way, as we talked about our band playing a small show for our friends, I tripped on an uneven sidewalk in San Clemente, CA by the San Diego Gas & Electric building between the fire station and hospital.

My shoulder still hurts from the fall. I was talking to a friend currently involved in a lawsuit and he said I may have a case.

However, I need some legal information on how I can pursue this. Do I need to go to a doctor? I am a musician by trade and this fall has effected my work performance. Any information would be appreciated.

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.


Dear Andrew,

If you are still hurt go to your doctor, the local emergency room, or a local medical clinic. You will have plenty of time to consider legal action against the owner or those responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk.

If your shoulder still hurts, the doctors may want to put you through a battery of tests. They may first take some x-rays. They may also send you for an MRI and a CAT Scan.

The x-rays will primarily seek to locate broken bones or hairline fractures. The MRI can go further in identifying torn rotator cuffs, torn ligaments, or muscle damage. A CAT Scan can primarily identify organ damage.

If, after seeing your doctors they are unable to locate any of the above-referenced or similar injuries, you really won’t have much, if any, legal case. In the alternative, if the tests reveal some sort of damage to your shoulder, you will have a case.

If the tests reveal injuries to your shoulder, contact your local county records department. They can assist you in identifying who owns the sidewalk upon which you fell. Once that is determined you can go ahead and sue the proper party.

The State of California has a one (1) year Statute of limitations. That means there is a one year period from the date of your injury before which you must either settle your claim against the owner, or file a lawsuit.

Learn more here: Injured on Public or Government Property

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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