Q: I went to the local market. On my way to the cashier, I stepped in a hole and am now on crutches. The market took a report, but their insurance company now suggests they won’t settle my claims. What does it take for the market to be liable?

-R.C., Arcadia

Ron Sokol

A: The market has a basic duty to take reasonable and diligent actions to make sure the premises are safe. For example, the market should conduct routine sweeps (inspections of its interior). If the market knows or should have known of an unsafe condition, and injury occurs, a claim may be viable. There are various questions: Was it a trivial or significant hole? Do you have photos? Any witnesses? What kind of shoes were you wearing? The market may argue you should have seen it, and stepped around it; but, even though comparative fault can reduce your claim, it does not defeat it. In slip and fall cases, hiring a premises liability expert often is advisable. Bottom line, the market is liable if it breached the fundamental duty to maintain safe premises, and the dangerous condition was a substantial factor in your injury.

Q: I have a hair line fracture of my ankle from a really messed up sidewalk. I think the city is responsible. What do I do?

-L.E., Long Beach

A: The ownership of the sidewalk is of importance, but check to see if there is an applicable ordinance or law that the party who is required to maintain the sidewalk is actually the party adjacent to it (such as a commercial business). A key decision is who you can sue, and therefore consultation with counsel is prudent. If the city should be pursued, there is a six-month deadline to file an administrative claim; if that is denied or deemed denied, there is another prompt deadline by which you are to sue.

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