Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ouch, public sidewalk liability resides with the property owner

The Daily Journal (San Mateo), Samantha Weigel, 8/3/13.  "Sidewalk ordinance trips up homeowner:  Half Moon Bay resident discovers she is liable for another's injuries."

Love our trees, but...
Fixing the owee
....  "Half Moon Bay, along with many cities in San Mateo County, have passed ordinances requiring property owners to maintain public sidewalks adjacent to their property. Half Moon Bay resident Lisa Kramer said she learned of this law the hard way. Five months after purchasing a home in 2012, a woman walking in front of Kramer’s home tripped on the sidewalk, suffered facial lacerations and incurred $15,000 in related medical expenses, Kramer said. To Kramer’s surprise, she became the target in a potential $350,000 lawsuit.  ....  Kramer’s homeowner’s insurance company settled with the woman’s attorney for $100,000, the maximum her policy covered, Kramer said.

....  “The city does not, nor does it have the resources to, actively inspect all of the sidewalks in Half Moon Bay to determine which need repairs. Property owners are generally in a better position to determine when a sidewalk has a significant defect that might be a trip hazard,” Condotti said. 

....  In 2004, the California Court of Appeals held that cities could adopt ordinances that extend a property owner’s liability for injuries sustained due to ill-maintained sidewalks. The language in the Half Moon Bay’s city ordinance mirrors that of many San Mateo County cities; including San Mateo, Redwood City, Belmont and Burlingame; and is fairly standardized across the state."  Read article.

A tripping hazard is 1/4 inch, or more
Related - City of Pacifica, private property sidewalk ordinance.  "According to California state law (streets & highways code), maintenance of the sidewalk that abuts private property is the responsibility of the property owner. If the sidewalk is damaged, it is the responsibility of the property owner to make repairs. If you (or your contractor) plan to repair the sidewalk that abuts your property, contact the engineering division at 650-738-3767 to obtain an encroachment permit."   City of Pacifica, outside business ordinance. "What are my responsibilities for the sidewalk outside my business.  The sidewalk that is directly adjacent to the property is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain."    

Shot Blast, Inc.  "Trip hazards - sidewalks and driveways.  The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) defines a trip hazard as any vertical change of ¼” or more at a joint or crack.  As we remove the trip hazard, we grind back 12 inches for every 1-inch in height differential in order to provide a nice even slope that complies with ADA standards.  "Federal law requirements.  Federal law requires the removal of all trip hazards from all pedestrian walkways. Because the ADA demands compliance, trip hazards present a legal liability. By eliminating trip hazards, property owners reduce their legal liability. ...."

Note photographs:   Raised sidewalk with tree from Anne Arudel County, MD information, Girl picture from Standard-Examiner news, PA, moderate crack in sidewalk from Shot Blast Inc. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

Of Course, shift the burden over to the homeowner.

Anonymous said...

what if there are no sidewalks? like pedro point, which in my opinion is very dangerous.