Thursday, February 22, 2024

Stepping Safely: Investigating the Risks and Consequences of Sidewalk Falls and Potential Injuries

sidewalk fall

Walking is a form of cardio that can have multiple health benefits. Trading a drive in your vehicle for a stroll also benefits the environment. What many people don’t realize is walking comes with hazards, especially on broken and uneven sidewalks. 

The impact of falling on broken sidewalks can be more far-reaching than you imagine. Which leads to the question, who’s responsible for your injuries? Are you on the hook for your damages, or is someone else responsible for covering your expenses?

Who’s Responsible for Sidewalk Injuries in New York

The party responsible for sidewalk injuries varies by city. In New York City, Administrative Code 7-210 states it’s the responsibility of businesses to maintain the sidewalks in front of their stores. If sidewalk maintenance is ignored, the business is considered negligent and responsible for any damages. 

What type of maintenance are businesses required to perform on the sidewalks in front of their establishments?

Overcrowded Sidewalks

Businesses often take advantage of the extra outdoor space they get with a sidewalk. They use the space to set up displays and place signage. Sometimes, a small table or two is set up outside, and these practices are usually fine.

However, when the sidewalk is overcrowded, problems can occur. While businesses can’t control the number of people using the sidewalk, they can limit the amount of stuff they set outside. If someone trips and falls over a sign, table, or display, the business is typically liable for any injuries.

Broken Sidewalks

Guess what! Business owners are responsible for repairing broken sidewalks in front and adjacent to their establishments. If you trip and fall on a broken section of the sidewalk, you can seek compensation for damages from the business owner.

While there really isn’t a timeline for repairs set down in writing, all broken sidewalks should be fixed within a reasonable amount of time. If repairs take a little while, the business owner should set down warning signs. 

If there is a warning sign and you still sustain injuries, the business owner may be protected from personal injury lawsuits. The sign issued a warning that you willingly chose to ignore.

Ice and Snow

All snow and ice removal from sidewalks are the responsibility of business owners. There aren’t any exceptions, and this also applies to any debris, like leaves and garbage—business owners are legally required to keep sidewalks clear of any obstacles.

Common Injuries From Sidewalk Falls

Tripping and falling on a broken sidewalk can leave you feeling embarrassed and undignified. Hopefully, this is the extent of your injuries. Unfortunately, sidewalk falls often result in more serious injuries, some of which can have a lasting effect on your life.

Broken Bones and Fractures

Slip and fall accidents often result in fractures and broken bones in the arms, hands, and wrists. These types of injuries are often caused when you brace yourself for the impact of the fall. Most people instinctively throw their arms out to try and stop the fall. The force of hitting the pavement can result in broken bones or fractures.

Strains and Sprains

Broken sidewalks can also cause ankle and knee sprains. You can easily put your foot down wrong, twisting your knee or ankle. Strains and sprains can also occur when you try to brace the impact of your fall. 

You can stain the soft tissue in your shoulders, wrists, and arms. If this type of injury is left untreated, it can cause long-term mobility problems and even limit your range of movement.

Head Injuries

Falling on a broken sidewalk doesn’t guarantee you’ll land on your knees, back, or side. You can hit your head, and concrete sidewalks are extremely hard. Your head isn’t going to crack the pavement, it’s unfortunately the other way around. 

You can suffer anything from a mild bump on the head to a concussion and even a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Any bump to the head can have a long-lasting effect on your health.

Facial Injuries

Your fall on a broken sidewalk can also leave you with facial injuries—you can scrape your nose and forehead, break a few teeth, and even suffer a broken nose. Facial injuries are often painful and most require medical attention.

Seeking Compensation After a Sidewalk Fall

If a business owner doesn’t maintain the sidewalk in front of and adjacent to their store, they can be held liable for any injuries. However, before you file a lawsuit you must prove the business is negligent. This means the business owner is aware of the broken sidewalk and is not taking steps to resolve the hazard. Remember, if the business owner has a hazard/warning sign, this may exempt them from civil complaints.

To prove liability in your personal injury case, you first need to show that the sidewalk violates NYC standards. Pictures of the obstacles or broken areas are usually enough to support your case. You’ll also need to document your injuries and any property damage, if applicable. 

Your property damage can include anything from a broken pair of glasses to a cracked laptop screen. If you replace the damaged property, save the receipts. This also applies to any repair estimates.

Since NYC is almost always bustling, there’s a good chance at least one person witnessed your accident. Try to exchange contact information. Your attorney may need their testimony to support your accident claim.

What Can You Claim in a Sidewalk Injury Case

Your personal injury claim can include property damage, but before you start making a list, talk to an accident attorney. Some items you may feel are eligible, but your attorney will want you to leave off of the list. This typically applies to frivolous times. 

For example, you broke your shoelaces in the fall. Claiming shoelaces as damaged property is frivolous and can negatively impact your case. However, you can claim medical expenses, lost wages, and significant property damage.

Consult with an Attorney If Your Injuries are From a Broken Sidewalk

In instances where you suffer a fall due to a poorly maintained sidewalk, there is a possibility of seeking compensation for your injuries. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible can help you understand your legal rights and determine if your case qualifies for compensation. 

An experienced attorney will carefully evaluate the specifics of your situation, guide you through the legal intricacies, and work diligently to ensure that you receive the rightful compensation for any harm or losses incurred due to any negligence in sidewalk maintenance.