In the summer, you can fall while walking due to cracks in a sidewalk or an uneven sidewalk. In the fall, wet leaves, acorns and other debris can make sidewalks slippery. In the winter, ice and snow can make walking on unmaintained sidewalks extremely dangerous. In the spring, the rains may leave surfaces and sidewalks slick. In short, sidewalk slip and fall injuries can happen at all times of the year and for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately the result of slip and fall accidents is often a severe or catastrophic injury. If you have suffered a severe injury due to an improperly maintained sidewalk, Reiff & Bily can work to hold the party responsible for your injuries liable.
What is the Law Regarding Sidewalk Injuries in Philadelphia?
The state Pennsylvania premises liability law – that is, the area of law that governs sidewalk slip and falls — holds that property owners owe a duty to certain classes of individuals. This duty typically requires a Pennsylvania landowner or the person responsible for the property to ensure that their sidewalks are maintained such that they remain in a reasonably safe condition for travel. In the converse, a property owners in Pennsylvania cannot neglect his or her sidewalks so that they become unreasonably dangerous.
State courts have held that significant elevations, depressions, or irregularities in sidewalks can result in the imposition of liability when a pedestrian or other individual to which a duty was owed in injured. Accumulations of snow and ice are a special case in Pennsylvania due to the state’s hills and ridgesdoctrine. This doctrine holds that for natural accumulations of snow and ice, landowners are only liable for injuries when the injured plaintiff can prove three things:
- The accumulation of snow and ice was in sufficient quantities to create hills and ridges. The hills and ridges must be unreasonably dangerous.
- The landowner knew or had reason to know that the dangerous natural accumulations of snow and ice were present.
- The accumulation of ice or snow was the reason for the injury.
However, if there is human intervention such as salting, shoveling, or otherwise removing snow and ice the hills and ridges doctrine would not apply. Rather, the legal inquiry would focus on whether the individual was negligent due to insufficient salting, shoveling, or use of sand. Furthermore, if winter weather has not occurred recently, the doctrine is also likely to not apply. An experienced sidewalk slip and fall lawyer can navigate this doctrine and its exceptions for your personal injury case.
In short, injuries due to a slip and fall on a sidewalk are fact-specific inquires. The circumstances present at your particular accident must be considered and analyzed to determine if a financial recovery is likely.
What are the Common Causes of Sidewalk Accidents?
Each and every accident is unique in its own way — different people, factors and conditions all converge to create the circumstances that caused the accident. Some common reasons and factors that contribute to sidewalk injuries include:
- Cracks in the sidewalk
- Uneven sidewalk
- Tree roots that grow through the sidewalk
- Poor lighting
- Uneven surfaces
- Garbage or other debris left on the sidewalk
- Improper use of unreasonably slippery materials
The above captures only some of the more common reasons for sidewalk injuries. Other reasons can include improper drainage that allows water to pool and freeze, a leaking pipe, or other types of problems including building code violations.
Who is at Risk of Slip and Fall Injuries?
While all people can suffer from a slip and fall injury, adults aged 65 or older are at the greatest risk of injury or death. In fact, the CDC states that one in three older adults fall each year. In 2012 alone, there were more than 2.4 million fall injuries among older adults. While the consequences of each fall are dependent upon the individual and the surrounding circumstances the CDC has found:
- Twenty to thirty percent of falls produce injuries that are moderate to severe. These injuries can include traumatic brain injuries (TBI), a fractured hip, or severe bruising.
- A fall is the most common reason for a TBI.
- Most bone fractures in older adults are due to falls. Fractures of the leg, upper arm, hand, spine and pelvis are very common.
- In 2011, more than 20,000 older adults passed away due to fall injuries.
In short, slip and fall injuries on sidewalks are as common as they are embarrassing. But, your fall wasn’t your fault and you should not let misplaced feelings of guilt to allow the responsible party to shift the cost of your injuries onto you.
Our Philadelphia Sidewalk Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you have suffered a serious injury due to a sidewalk slip and fall, Contact Reiff & Bily. We have fought for injured Pennsylvanians for nearly 35 years. To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation please call 800-861-6708 or contact us online today.
1125 Walnut Street, Floor 3 Philadelphia, PA 19107