I tripped on a city sidewalk and broke two ribs. Can I sue the city?

I tripped on a big crack in the sidewalk while I was out for a run. I’ve already missed three weeks of work.



Vancouver, BC

If a municipality doesn’t take reasonable steps to ensure its sidewalks are safe for people to use, it can be liable when someone’s injured in a fall. But a municipality isn’t automatically responsible. Under this law, you have to prove all of the following:

  • the sidewalk was in an unsafe condition

  • the municipality did not make reasonable efforts to keep the sidewalk safe for people to use (including following their policies to fix any problems), and

  • you were injured because of the municipality’s negligence.

With a claim against a municipality, an important piece will be looking at the policies the municipality has in place to maintain, inspect, and repair city property. Are those policies reasonable? Was the city following them with respect to this sidewalk? If the answer to those questions is yes, the city won’t be liable for your injuries. 

We have more on what you have to show to prove a slip and fall claim.

Note that if you want to sue the city for damages, you have to act fast. You must notify the city in writing within two months from the date of your fall, and start an action for negligence within two years

Paul Warnett

Paul Warnett

Warnett Hallen LLP
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in April 2021

Also on this topic

Still not sure what to do?

If you're looking for advice specific to your situation, there are options for free or low-cost help.

Options for legal help

We are grateful to work on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, whose Peoples continue to live on and care for these lands.