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$260,000.00 Trip and Fall Settlement

Earlier this month, Emerald Law Group settled a trip and fall case against a large Puget Sound City and a landowner. The client, a 57-year-old woman was walking on a busy sidewalk when she tripped on an uneven section of the walkway, injuring her knee. Both the City and the adjoining landowner disputed liability. Emerald Law Group hired a liability expert and then filed a lawsuit to secure justice for the injured client on the eve of trial. The $260,000.00 settlement will compensate our wonderful client for the pain and suffering she had to endure due to the negligently maintained sidewalk.

Falls on City sidewalks can present unique challenges given the interplay between cities and adjacent private landowners. Emerald Law Group is experienced at navigating this area of law and making sure that both the landowner and the City pays its fair share!

Private landowners and city sidewalks

Most municipalities (and counties) in Washington have ordinances or municipal codes that require the owner of private property participate in some manner regarding the maintenance of public sidewalks next to their property. Be it through reporting dangerous conditions to the municipality or by actually completing the repairs themselves under certain circumstances.

The failure of a property owner to maintain city sidewalks next to their property can create a liability concern. If a property owner fails to maintain or repair the municipal or county sidewalks next to their property, they may be liable in-part to pedestrians who are injured due to the disrepair of the sidewalks. In Rivett v. City of Tacoma, the Washington Supreme Court held that a municipality cannot absolve itself of all liability via an ordinance that places responsibility for the condition of city sidewalks solely on the owner of the abutting property. Rather, municipalities and counties are ultimately responsible for the condition of public sidewalks. Rivett v. City of Tacoma, 123 Wn.2d 573 (1994).

Some municipalities and counties have enacted local laws or ordinances requiring that abutting property owners notify the municipality or county of any dangerous conditions on the sidewalks next to their property. In Seattle for example, Seattle Municipal Code 15.72 requires the abutting property owner to maintain the city sidewalks next to their property to be fit for ordinary travel by pedestrians.

Thankfully, Emerald Law Group attorneys were able to resolve our client’s case for over a quarter of a million dollars by forcing both the City and private landowner to defend via litigation against the respective negligence of both entities.

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