blog home Premises Liability The Root Problem: How Trees Make Sidewalks Dangerous

By Renee Nordstrand on November 17, 2022

sidewalk buckled by tree

The power of nature is amazing. It’s hard to believe that a plant could be strong enough to damage a concrete sidewalk, but we see it happening all the time.

Over time, steadily growing tree roots can extend underneath a sidewalk. As the roots grow and expand, they will eventually disrupt the surface of the sidewalk. This creates substantially uneven surfaces that may cause pedestrians to fall and be seriously injured.

In California, property owners are responsible for removing hazards on the sidewalks adjacent to their property. The damage to sidewalks caused by tree roots occurs gradually, and it’s essential for property owners to take active measures to repair these dangerous walkways.

How Tree Roots Can Damage a Sidewalk

A tree’s roots supply it with water and nutrients from the soil. The roots spread out to provide stability, allowing the tree to stand tall, even under heavy winds.

In California where the topsoil may be shallow, taproots are often unable to penetrate deeply. That makes trees even more reliant on spreading root systems for sustenance and support.

After roots extend underneath a sidewalk, they continue to increase in diameter. A tree root can broaden up to four inches or more in circumference. The upward pressure created by growing roots will eventually cause the sidewalk to lift, and the sidewalk might even separate.

Injuries Caused by Sidewalk Falls

Trip and fall accidents can have devastating consequences, especially on hard surfaces like concrete. It only takes a small rise in the surface to cause an unsuspecting pedestrian to get hurt. These injuries can be tremendously harmful and even fatal.

The victim of a sidewalk fall may fall backward, landing directly on their head. Injuries and other negative consequences that result from tripping over a bumpy sidewalk include:

Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney After a Sidewalk Fall

If you were harmed by a fall caused by sidewalk root damage, dial 911 right away, take photos of the scene and surrounding areas, and get the names and contact information of witnesses. Keep records of all your medical treatments, including doctor’s office visits, ambulance rides, surgery, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.

In California, many cities and local jurisdictions have passed laws requiring property owners to maintain safe sidewalks adjacent to their property. In most cases, your attorney will seek damages against the property owner’s insurance company. Government entities may also be liable if they knew or should have known of a dangerous condition of public property and failed to remedy the dangerous condition. If you notice sidewalk damage in the City of Santa Barbara, you should report it here and if you notice a dangerous condition of public property in the County you can report it here.

Your attorney will investigate the accident and file a claim to help you get the money you need to cover your medical expense and other costs to compensate you for the losses you suffer, such as:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost income and future income
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, love, affection of a loved one

If the insurance company or government entity refuses to make a fair offer, our experienced trial attorneys at NordstrandBlack PC are always prepared to take them to court.

We’re on Your Side

You should not have to pay your own medical bills and should be compensated for your costs and expenses and pain and suffering for injuries caused by someone else’s careless behavior. Our award-winning trial attorneys at NordstrandBlack PC help people put their lives back together after an accident.

Call (805) 962-2022 to schedule your FREE consultation today. At NordstrandBlack PC, we never stop fighting for our clients.

Posted in: Premises Liability