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Who Has Liability for Dangerous Sidewalks?


California law does not require property owners to maintain public sidewalks adjacent to their properties. Maintenance of public sidewalks is generally the duty of the city or municipality that owns the walkway. However, where statutes (laws) or other regulations (such as CC&Rs) require property owners to maintain adjacent sidewalks, property owners do have legal liability for the sidewalk’s maintenance and condition.

Moreover, property owners who alter sidewalks to benefit their properties must do so (a) with proper permits and permissions, and (b) in a manner that maintains the sidewalk in reasonably safe condition.

Whether or not they have responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk, property owners must not act (or fail to act) in any way that creates a hazardous condition on sidewalks adjacent to their properties. For example, land owners cannot allow their trees, bushes, or other landscaping to grow in a way that obstructs visibility for pedestrians or vehicle operators, or to overgrow sidewalks in a manner that creates a risk of injury. If injury or damage results from improperly-maintained foliage or other conditions originating on adjacent property, the owner of that property may be liable.

As with other forms of premises liability, the duties and obligations discussed in this article may apply (in appropriate circumstances) not only to owners of land, but to those who possess and control land, even if they do not own title.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR ROSS LAW AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Most legal claims (and defenses) are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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