Noteworthy Results Specific case results. No two cases are alike.

When a Breach of Duty Causes Your Personal Injury


“The bottom line here is, if people think they can just take a dive on a sidewalk and make money, that’s not the case,” said Mike Cholodenko, a personal injury attorney in the Los Angeles area. Cholodenko spoke after a settlement of $48,000 was finally awarded to his client, Olivia Casillas, who suffered a shoulder injury after she tripped on a city sidewalk. Her injury was severe enough to require surgery.

In March of 2015, Casillas was leaving an optometry appointment when she slipped and fell on the sidewalk. She and her attorney filed a civil complaint in the Los Angeles Superior Court, making the claim that the sidewalk had a defect in it that resulted in a height differential of about two inches between the two panels of concrete. This was confirmed by the fact that the piece of sidewalk on which the injury occurred was on a list of 3,000 sidewalks in Santa Monica in need of repairs.

At the time of the prior inspection, it was documented that the difference between sidewalk slabs was less than an inch tall. This led Cholodenko to believe that the inspection prior to the incident was not done properly.

The city initially attempted to argue that Casillas was partially at fault for the fall. Cholodenko countered this with the claim that, though Casillas’ fall was preceded by a visit to an eye doctor, she had just passed a vision test that day that argued that she could see fine.

So why can’t other residents of Santa Monica fake a fall to try to score thousands of dollars? Because in cases like this one, you must be able to prove that the dangerous condition that caused your injury was a known hazard and should have been fixed prior to your fall.

First, you have to prove that the accident occurred because of a dangerous condition. Casillas didn’t just trip over a random patch of sidewalk—she fell on a sidewalk with a severe enough height differential to be documented by the city as being in need of repair. You must then be able to place the blame for the dangerous condition on someone’s negligence. In this case, fought for and won in a very strict government entity, fault was placed with the city because they recognized a danger and did not respond to it in time to prevent Casillas’ injury.

Proving the Case

In order to do this in your own personal injury or slip and fall case, you must prove three things:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach of duty
  3. Breach of duty directly responsible for the injury

Here is how these three aspects that need to be proved worked in this case:

  1. Duty: The duty present in this case is the responsibility of the city to remain aware of their sidewalks, and if any potential dangers arise, it is the duty of the city to fix it in a timely manner.
  2. Breach of Duty: The clear breach of the duty in this case is the city’s neglect to respond in efficient time to a problem that was identified prior to the incident as potentially dangerous.
  3. Breach Caused the Damages: In this case, the uneven sidewalk was the direct cause of the injury. Therefore, by breaching responsibility to fix the sidewalk, the city can be held responsible for the woman’s injuries.

If you have suffered a personal injury due to a breach of responsibility, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation, or contact us online.