What if I slip and fall on government owned property?

You still have the basic test, which is did they fail to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition? Before I go into the details there, I want to make one point. In California, there are very different time limits which you must comply with to assert a claim against the governmental entity. You don’t have the usual two-year statute to limitations. You must make a claim within six months of the actual date of the incident. And then there are further time deadlines that flow from having made that claim within the six months. But failing to adhere to the strict requirements of the claim’s statute will result in a forfeiture of the claim. Now, having said that, the government may have liability if it fails to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition.

There are certain standards for trip and fall cases where some deviations are not considered material, they’re considered trivial. If you trip and fall over a trivial defect, for example, a height discrepancy in a sidewalk that’s less than one inch, even though it might have constituted a reasonable case against the private property owner, it’s not a case that’s going to go anywhere against the governmental entity because of the trivial defect rule. But if a condition existed for a long enough period of time that is unreasonably unsafe, and it existed long enough such that the government entity should’ve been able to inspect and notice it and do something about it, the government can be held liable.


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