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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Legal question just for curiosity, can you be sued because a person trips over a city owned sidewalk and is injured in your rose bushes?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26879points) December 29th, 2014

Not that there are any real attorneys here, but out of curiosity who do you think would be at fault? If in front of your house was a tree lining the street, the tree belongs to the city as does the sidewalk. Because the tree was not planted deep enough decades ago the roots push up and cause the sidewalk to be uneven. The city has not made repairs to the sidewalk, but they have marked it with fluorescent warnings letting pedestrians know the pavement is shifted. Someone comes walking along texting and miss the florescent warning, trips on the uneven sidewalk and lands in your rose bushes getting badly cut and scraped up. Can the pedestrian sue you, the city, both of you, or just have to lick their own wounds? If they did sue, what do you believe their chances of success will be?

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3 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

One can get sued for just about anything. In a civil case, though, one of the decisions that is made is how “fault” is assigned. When suits are filed, everyone who has any involvement with the situation gets sued, from the city to the homeowner to the people who planted doth tree to the sidewalk installer.

A city that has taken steps to mark a hazard is overwhelmingly accepting fault by not repairing it.

The rose bushes may be assigned fault, too, but it may be outweighed by the negligence of the pedestrian.

Silence04's avatar

The person with the rose bushes could easily be at fault if they were to sue.

Their position could be that the person with the rose bush was aware of the hazardous sidewalk, and the potental risk of keeping a rose bush there.

grac3alot's avatar

A victim will only sue if they can prove the result of their injuries was because of your negligence. Therefore, the rose bushes are not the problem, the events that unfolded prior to the fall are the problem.

The city owns the tree and sidewalk, but by law, maintaining the sidewalk (shoveling snow, fixing a cracked/bumpy sidewalk) is actually your responsibility even though you cannot restrict the public from accessing “your” sidewalk. So if the tree roots are cracking up the sidewalk, you’re responsible for putting up warning signs and making repairs, or having the tree chopped down. Although, (I think It depends on the city) you can call the city to come down and examine the health of the tree. If they determine the tree is unhealthy, then they will chop it down because it poses a risk of causing foundational damage or harming/killing someone.

In this case, if a person were to fall into your bushes because of your unmaintained sidewalk, then you would be sued and you would lose, unless (maybe, I’m not sure) it can be shown that the victim was negligent as well (txting). On the other hand, if the tree does not pose a risk, and the sidewalk was maintained, then they cannot sue for negligence.

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