City Property Versus Private Property: Who’s At Fault?

Today’s episode of CPLGTV we’re walking the streets of Los Angeles, and we’re pointing out where the city property and the private property come and meet, and who has liability when and where. You’ll want to check it out, so let’s go walk the streets.

So obviously we’re walking on the sidewalk in a simple residential area. This is called the sidewalk. However, this is called the parkway. And this is legally owned by the homeowner. And the homeowner maintains the tree. And what’s common in a sidewalk case is that the tree’s roots cause an uplift in the sidewalk that is maintained by the city. So what happens is is that both have liability if I trip and fall from an uplift. The owner, because of the tree, the city because of the crack is on the city property. So you’re going to have two defendants, actually.

So what we have here is actually a really good example where you can see the property line going across. Now, what a lot of people don’t realize is the parkway is owned by the homeowner, and it’s maintained by the homeowner. You can do whatever you want with this property, just like you can with your lawn. However, what happens when you plant a tree, and that tree’s roots cause an uplift in a city-maintained and owned sidewalk? Who’s at fault? The answer is both.

The private owner, because their tree’s the one that caused the uplift, and the city for not doing something before the fall. So you’re going to be suing both in that situation. They’re going to point fingers at each other, but again that’s not the plaintiff’s fault. That’s the city and the private homeowner’s fault. They’re going to have to figure out who has the fault, and generally in a case like that, it’s comparative fault, meaning they’re both at fault, and they both have to contribute some money. Normally it ends up being 50/50 between the owner of the property and the city. This is a really good example showing how the property line extends all the way to the curb.