What can I do if I tripped over an unusually high curb at the senior center in my town?

It was just getting dark and I was on my way to piano lessons and I tripped over the unusually high curb in front of the building causing me to dislocate and break my middle finger. I am curious if I should bring this to someone’s attention and if so who? Also, could there be a legal issue involved should they not show some sense of fault?

Asked on October 21, 2014 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

To potentially have a claim against either the municipality or the senior center (the potentially liable or responsible party would be whomever is responsible for maintening the curb), you'd have to show that the curb was not just "unusually" high, but that it was "unreasonably" high--basically, at a level or height which is inherently unsafe. To do this, you'd need testimony from some sort of safety and/or construction expert, which would increase the cost of any lawsuit. That in turn brings up another issue: unless there are complications from the dislocation or it never resolves properly, leaving you with a life-long disability, it is unlikely that could recover enough money from legal action to offset the cost of suing, since the amount of "damages" you can recover is related to the cost of medical care and the extent of injuries. For less serious or more quickly healed injuries, the amount of compensation therefore often is outweighed by the cost of litigation. This does not mean you cannot bring the issue to the attention of whomever is responsible for the curb, to see if they will voluntarily offer you compensation (e.g. to pay medical bills) and in the hope that they'll correct it for the future, but if they do not voluntarily compensate you, it is unlikely that a lawsuit would be worthwhile.


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