When is a landowner liable? - KMOV.com

When is a landowner liable?

(KMOV) – After falling on public property in Soulard, a St. Louis woman wants to know who’s liable. 

Andrea Sunkel tripped on an uneven sidewalk while leaving Clementine’s, damaging her front teeth and cutting her hand. Sunkel now has a $1,000 dental bill from the incident, but the city says it doesn’t have to pay.
 
“Ultimately, all I was asking for was for the city to pay my dental bills,” said Sunkel.
 
Last week, the city notified Sunkel it wouldn’t help with her dental bill because it wasn’t liable; citing hers was the first complaint and nothing had been filed with the Citizens Service Bureau who handles complaints.
 
Personal injury lawyer Andrew Martin said it’s unreasonable to expect the city to know every potential hazardous sidewalk, but a case could be made that the city should have known about this one.
 
“Obviously, the tree roots are pushing it up and that takes a certain amount of time and that’s something that the city using reasonable care should discover,” said Martin.
 
Although she was leaving a bar, Sunkel also says she doesn’t think alcohol is to blame.
 
“I was only there two hours and had two or three beers,” said Sunkel.
 
Martin says that fact Sunkel had consumed alcohol may have bearing on comparative fault; it has no bearing on whether or not the city was aware of the sidewalk.
 
According to Martin, Sunkel can file a request under the Sunshine Law to confirm hers was the first accident and then take the matter to small claims court. 
 
With two new crowns and fake front teeth, Sunkel still wants the city to help out with her dental bill, but at the very least, she wants the sidewalk she tripped on repaired. As of Thursday afternoon, it hadn’t been.

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