Home Blog Premises Liability Paving the Way to Safer Sidewalks

Paving the Way to Safer Sidewalks

By Eugene Bruno on December 22, 2023

The San Diego City Council is going to start fixing broken sidewalks, but they may be sending YOU the bill. In an attempt to reduce lawsuits for injuries caused by broken and damaged sidewalks, the city has begun notifying about 5,000 property owners that they are responsible to fix the sidewalks in front of their homes or businesses. The city wants to make property owners aware of their obligation to maintain sidewalks that border their properties and to encourage them to make the necessary repairs. The city estimates it will cost $238 million to make repairs on approximately 4,500 miles of sidewalks throughout the city.

Who Is Responsible for Unsafe Sidewalks?

Sidewalks may seem like they should be a public responsibility, like roads, sewers, and streetlights. But most sidewalk repairs are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. The city may repair a sidewalk at city expense if there is ground subsidence or damage from a city utility. However, the city’s liability is very limited and most sidewalk issues are the property owner’s responsibility, including damage caused by private trees and tree roots, deteriorating concrete and cracking, and normal wear and tear. Most property owners are unaware that state law actually makes them responsible for sidewalk repairs in front of their home or business, which means that most dangerous sidewalks never get fixed and they continue to hurt people.

Concrete sidewalks have a useful life of about 50 years, and many San Diego sidewalks are at least that old or older. Many need repair or replacement and can be dangerous. The city is offering help with expedited permits and financial assistance to homeowners, which you can find out about it here: However, funding is limited. That means a lot of dangerous sidewalks may not get fixed and will continue to cause unnecessary pain and suffering to those who end up getting hurt because of them.

What to Do After Falling on a Dangerous Sidewalk

Deteriorated and dangerous sidewalks result in thousands of injury claims every year. Over the past 10 years, the average claim for sidewalk-related injuries in San Diego was $46,000! If you were injured because of a dangerous sidewalk condition, what should you do?

  1. Get Checked Out Right Away: This not only ensures your health and well-being. It also creates medical evidence of your injuries.
  2. Document the Scene: Take photos of the damaged sidewalk, the surrounding area, and any contributing factors that may have caused the accident (example: tree roots). The best photos will include a standard of measure. No ruler? Use a coin, a lighter, a water bottle, or anything else to be able to compare how big or small the defect is.
  3. Gather Evidence: Collect contact information from witnesses who saw what happened or who can tell you about other incidents at the same location. Save your shoes and damaged clothing as evidence too.
  4. Make a Report: Here’s where it gets complicated. Do you report the incident to the property owner or to the city? Knowing who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk can be hard to determine. Claims against the city have special reporting rules, which could cause you to lose your case if you don’t report your claim the right way. Most homeowners are reluctant to give out their homeowner’s insurance information to anyone until an attorney gets involved. Consulting with a knowledgeable San Diego personal injury attorney will allow you to determine who is liable, investigate insurance coverage, and ensure that your claim is filed correctly. Don’t talk to anyone about the incident or accept any settlement offers without consulting with an experienced attorney first.

To report a dangerous sidewalk condition in the City of San Diego, you can call (619) 527-3941, visit this site, or send an email to safesidewalks@sandiego.gov.

Were You Injured in a Sidewalk Fall?

Eugene Bruno & Associates have been helping slip-and-fall accident victims in San Diego for over 30 Years. Our experienced trial attorneys will file a claim or a lawsuit to help you get the money you need to cover your medical bills and other expenses such as time missed form work.

Our law firm has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau, and Expertise.com selected us as the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in San Diego.

Call us at 1-888-BRUNO-88 (1-888-278-6688) to schedule a free consultation today.

Posted in: Premises Liability