Anchors Away

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Q: One day, I tripped over a metal traffic object protruding four inches above the sidewalk.  Originally, the purpose of the object had been to anchor a temporary sign post.  Both post and anchor had been installed by the state, as part of a reconstruction project.  Afterwards, the state had removed the post, but not the anchor.

Together with my husband, I have filed a notice of claim against the city, alleging that its negligent maintenance of the sidewalk caused this very hazardous condition.  The city is saying that we can do nothing, since it did not have prior written notice of this defect or obstruction.

A: With exceptions that do not appear to apply, a prior written notice statute limits a city’s duty of care over municipal streets and sidewalks, by imposing liability only for those defects or hazardous conditions as to which its officials have actually received written notice.  This comports with the reality that a city cannot be expected to be aware of every pothole and other dangerous condition on its streets and public walkways.

In many places, lawyers’ organizations have formed corporations whose sole purpose is to check for sidewalk, curb and crosswalk defects and then provide the written notice, in advance.  In this way, their brethren will be able to go forward with cases, once they occur.  One lawyer writes a statute, and another finds a way to live with it.  My thought is that perhaps you can do better in suing the state.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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