Over time, pavement may develop cracks, gaps, or different heights, or it may expand or contract. In some cases, this is a result of age, while in other cases, it is due to soil or weather erosion or poor construction. However it develops, uneven pavement may present a hazard to passersby, visitors, pedestrians, and other people. If you suffer a trip and fall on damaged pavement, you may have serious injuries and need medical care. Injuries may range from twisted ankles to broken bones or even traumatic brain injuries. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC our California personal injury lawyers represent accident victims who have been harmed on someone else’s property.
Take Legal Action Based on Injuries Caused by Uneven Pavement
Generally, claims arising out of uneven pavement are covered by premises liability law. You may hold a property owner or a business in a particular location responsible for a trip and fall caused by uneven pavement when the defendant either created a dangerous condition or failed to repair or warn about the uneven pavement. If a property owner knows or should know about uneven pavement, it is supposed to either repair the pavement or mark it with warning signs so that visitors are not hurt.
In California, you may hold the owner of the sidewalk liable for uneven pavement if you can prove that the pavement was uneven at the time of the accident, the uneven pavement is why you fell, the uneven pavement was creating a reasonably foreseeable risk of injuries at the time of the accident, and the owner acted to create the uneven pavement (as in a construction project) or knew or should have known about the condition.
Constructive knowledge likely will be shown when the damaged pavement lasted for a long period of time. To establish that a buckle in pavement or an uneven surface lasted for a long time, we may interview witnesses, examine outside surveillance footage, or retain an expert. If the pavement is uneven, and the owner knows or should know of this hazard, it must repair the pavement or put out warning signs.
If you can prove that the property owner is liable, you may be able to recover general and special damages. Special damages are economic damages that include such items of loss as lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, hospital bills, and household services. They are concrete losses, often provable through documentation. General damages are also known as noneconomic damages, and they are intangible losses such as mental anguish, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. The attorney whom you retain and their skill at determining the intangible impact of your injuries on your life and then persuasively presenting this evidence to insurers or a judge and jury may make a huge difference to the amount of your general damages.
Sometimes the uneven pavement at issue is owned by a government entity. Different rules apply to suing a government entity. This includes the requirement that you provide notice to the government entity responsible for the uneven pavement within a very narrow window of time. It is crucial to retain an attorney immediately after an accident so that it may be determined whether notice needs to be given to a government entity, such as CalTrans or a city. Retaining an attorney right away may also help ensure that a proper investigation is conducted into the uneven pavement and the causes of an accident.