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Manhole Accident Attorney | Open Trench Injury Lawsuits


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How to Sue for a Manhole Accident

Premises liability lawsuits can be filed by anyone on private property if they were injured, but the level of rights and care varies from type of person to type of person. Invitees are essentially customers and are afforded the highest duty of care, while licensees are more social guests. If you were in a mall or other type of store, you were likely an invitee. Trespassers can also sue, but they are afforded drastically fewer rights because they were not legally on the property at the time of the incident. Manholes are public property, so you would have to file a lawsuit as an invitee against the city. The Department of Public Works will likely be the defendant, as they would have needed to repair the manhole and did not do so in time.

Claims require that you prove one of three scenarios. They are as follows:

  • The property owner knew there was a hazard or problem with the manhole but did not try to fix it or provide any warnings to individuals who were using it
  • The property owner caused the problem with the manhole
  • The property owner was not aware that the manhole had any issues, but he reasonably should have if he were attentive and doing his due diligence of inspecting the premises

Manhole accidents generally come about because of a lack of awareness or maintenance, so the city should have been paying close attention, especially if problems were brought up in the past.

How do these types of accidents happen?

We have often been asked who is responsible for injuries sustained when there is open manhole? Generally these types of accidents happen when there is negligence on behalf of the property owner. When the party creating the condition fails to inform pedestrians of the dangers they will be held negligent. In some cases landlords who create the condition fail to notify pedestrians, or fail to post signs. Other times the property or sidewalk is not properly lit. Each case is different and requires careful analysis and evaluation of the facts. Common injuries resulting from manhole fall accidents include
  • Head Trauma – Including Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Fractures
  • Facial Cuts and Bruises
  • Broken ankle and fractures bones including rib fractures
  • Eye trauma
  • Mental Anguish
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Compensation from a Manhole Accident Lawsuit

Manhole accident claims can result in a large amount of compensation. You may be able to receive the following types of damages:

  • Medical bills form the past and future for treatment, physical therapy and rehabilitation, medication, surgery, hospitalization, and more
  • Property damage if any personal items were lost or broken in the incident
  • Lost income if you were unable to work for a period of time, which can include bonuses, tips, commissions, and more
  • Pain and suffering damages for emotional trauma, mental anguish, PTSD, anxiety, fear, and more

The value of your case will be determined by the insurance agent handling it. He will consider the extent of your injuries, your age and career, and how responsible you were for the incident. We will strive to win you the maximum compensation available under the law.

How do these types of manhole accidents happen?

Generally, these types of manhole accidents happen when there is negligence on behalf of the property owner or manager. When the party responsible for the property fails to inform pedestrians of the dangers, the party will be held negligent. In some cases, landlords who create the dangerous condition fail to notify pedestrians, or fail to post signs that there are missing manhole covers, that there is construction or sewer maintenance going on, or that the manholes may be loose due to city upgrades. Other times, the property or sidewalk is simply not properly lit. Each case is different and requires careful analysis and evaluation of the facts.

Common injuries resulting from manhole fall accidents include

  • Head Trauma
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Closed Head Injuries
  • Broken Bones
  • Ankle and Knee Injuries
  • Fractured Ribs
  • Neck Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Fractures
  • Facial Cuts and Bruises
  • Eye Trauma
  • Herniated or Ruptured Discs
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Death

Often, the city, county, or other government entity is responsible for the manhole covers and keeping them in place. A missing manhole accident can be extremely serious, and some individuals may be gravely injured. You should not have to constantly worry about the safety of manholes if you’re walking.

Premises Liability Information

All property owners, which includes government entities, have a responsibility to individuals walking on the property. The property should be free from danger and should not have any possible risks. If there are risks, there should be sufficient warnings or signs.

If you wish to file a premises liability claim, you must be able to show one of these three scenarios:

  • The property owner knew there was a hazard and did nothing to fix it or alert pedestrians to the danger
  • The property owner caused the hazard in the first place
  • The property owner was not aware of the hazard, but reasonably should have been, if he were attentive and inspecting the property or area like he should have been

Once you have assessed the situation, you can move forward with a claim. You should follow these steps to ensure that your case is a success:

  • Go to the doctor for medical treatment
  • Hold on to medical records, receipts, insurance documents, prescriptions, and more
  • Take pictures of your injuries and damages
  • Take photos of the site of the accident
  • Acquire eyewitness testimonies and bystander statements from anyone who saw the accident happen
  • File an incident report with the property owner

Once you’ve gathered your proof, you should reach out to a skilled manhole accident attorney in Los Angeles who can take your claim to the insurance agency. We know the best methods for success, and we will do everything in our power to secure you compensation. You may not have legal experience or any skills negotiating, which can be detrimental to your claim. You should focus on recovering while we focus on the legal process.

Steps You need to take to Protect Your Legal Right to Compensation

Depending on the extent of your injuries, you should first consider seeking medical treatment for your injuries. Never attempt to diagnose your own injuries. If you were injured as a result of another negligence you are entitled to damages for your injuries. Generally the theory of liability would be negligence. In such a case we would need to show amongst other things that the standard of care of either the property owner, city works department or contractor was below the standard in the industry. For instance if they left the trench open without sufficient notice or lighting then there conduct would be considered negligent. Our offices have been handling a number of these claims. Each case has its own set of liability issues and we are happy to offer a free case evaluation. Many times we see what other attorneys fail to recognize and are happy to help our clients get a better understanding of their case. If you have been injured as a result of an open trench accident, contact our offices today for a free case evaluation.

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Statute of Limitations on Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

You have a specific amount of time during which you can file a claim if you were injured due to a defective manhole cover. This statute of limitations exists to ensure that you file a claim within an acceptable time frame so that all evidence is preserved as best as it can be. It is less likely for physical proof to deteriorate and for memories or statements to be fogged over due to time. The sooner you file your claim, the more likely it is that you will find success.

In California, there is a time limit of 2 years to filing a personal injury claim against a responsible party. If you do not sue in time, your claim will be tossed out, and you will not be able to receive any compensation at all. One of the primary reasons that victims fail to get restitution is because they do not know when the time limit expires or how much time actually remains in the statute of limitations.

There are some exceptions to this statute, however. Minors, for instance, cannot sue and must have a parent or legal guardian do so on their behalf. However, they can wait until they turn 18 years old, and the statute of limitations will begin counting down then. Further, if you were left mentally or physically impaired and unable to take legal action after the accident, the deadline would be suspended until you returned to normal health or functionality. Moreover, the intended defendant must be present in California. If he has vacated the state or country, the statute of limitations will not count down until he comes back.

Potential Compensation from a Manhole Accident Lawsuit

The value of a manhole accident claim will be determined by the insurance agent handling it. He will look at various pieces of evidence and consequences. Chiefly, he will look at your injuries and the impact they had on your life and career. If they were particularly severe, he may make a larger offer than if they were minor or not serious. He will also consider your age and job type, and if you had any responsibility in the incident. If you were partially to blame, the settlement he offers would likely be small. Most insurance agents want to preserve profits and do not want to pay out settlements.

Our attorneys will work to negotiate a better deal and ensure that you’re fairly compensated. We will pursue damages for the following:

  • Medical expenses (surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy and rehabilitation, medication and prescription drugs future medical procedures)
  • Property damage (for any broken items that must be repaired or replaced)
  • Lost wages (from the past and future if you will miss work for legal reasons or health reasons, which can include benefits, bonuses, tips, commissions, and more)
  • Pain and suffering (PTSD, fear, anxiety, emotional stress, and more resulting from the incident)
  • Wrongful death expenses in the event a loved one died in the incident (pre-death medical bills, pre-death pain and suffering damages, loss of consortium and relations, loss of expected savings and inheritance, funeral bills and burial fees, and more)

You should not be held accountable for your injuries because of an improperly placed manhole. The responsible party should be made to pay off your applicable debts.

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