Is the city responsible for private lawns they ruin while doing sidewalk maintenance?

UPDATED: May 10, 2011

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Is the city responsible for private lawns they ruin while doing sidewalk maintenance?

The public sidewalk in front of our house was replaced by the city. They tore up our lawn in the process (and smoked on my property when they knocked on the door). When they finished, they “seeded” the lawn with new grass. I use quotes around “seeded” because nothing grew but weeds. When the city cited me for weeds I complained that they put them there and they said they would reseed. I cut down the weeds, I never saw them come out, and new weeds have grown up with my lawn completely dead around the area. Do I have any small claims or legal recourse?

Asked on May 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may technically have legal resource, for the city's (or  it's contractors') negligence in damaging your lawn. The reason I say technically is that it is typically very difficult to sue a municipality, state, or government agency for damages; there are special requirements as to the type of notice necessary; shorter than usual time lines; and not all courts can hear the matter. In short, it is very possible that you (1) already have run out of time; and (2) if you have not run out of time to sue, that to do so, you will effectively need an attorney or lawyer to represent you and navigate the requirements, which could easily not be worthwhile, economically, for the size of the potential recovery. If you want to consider pursuing this, you should consult with an attorney--many will provide a free initial consultation to evaluate a case.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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