Claims against Petaluma skyrocket

February 15, 2012 by  

A growing number of Petaluma residents are filing claims after slipping, tripping or falling on faulty streets and sidewalks. Claims against the city have risen dramatically in the past year. The 70 percent jump in claims includes a Petaluma woman who suffered a leg injury in March 2010, after falling into a groove between the sidewalk and street. The price tag for the woman’s numerous surgeries resulting from her leg fracture totaled $60,000. A few months later an elderly woman experienced multiple breaks in her knee caps after tripping over a pothole.

Printing services may have stayed busy as of late running off claim forms for Petaluma residents. Sixty-three people filed claims against the city during the 2010-2011 fiscal year compared to 37 in the previous year, according to Ron Blanquie, Petaluma’s Risk Manager.

Blanquie who looks into claims against the city, says they tend to go up during tough economic times.
Limited resources have also forced the city to become more lax when it comes to routine maintenance projects. Fewer city workers and less funds available to repair potholes have contributed to the rise in claims, says Blanquie. Blanquie emphasized that property owners are responsible for sidewalk repair in front of their homes or businesses, while it’s up to the city to fill potholes.

People are under the false impression that the city has an insurance company to cover the cost of claims. Residents need to understand that the city is self-insured, explains Blanquie. That means taxpayer dollars are used to payout claims.