Our Blog

When unsafe sidewalk conditions lead to costly injury

From poor lighting to broken, uneven pavement and other obstacles, sidewalks often pose unexpected hazards to pedestrians. That is particularly true in Kansas City, where residents have grown increasingly concerned about the high number of damaged or otherwise poorly maintained walkways that put pedestrians at risk.

Many sidewalk accidents are minor, but a particularly bad fall may easily cause serious injury in the form of broken bones, head injury or spinal damage. Older people and those with mobility issues are especially at risk of experiencing a debilitating or even fatal fall. The CDC reports that each year, 3 million Americans over the age of 65 visit emergency departments for fall-related injuries.

Who is liable for sidewalk maintenance?

From emergency medical treatment to follow-up surgeries, prescription drugs and physical therapy, the cost of recovering from a fall can quickly become overwhelming. Injured individuals should know that, in Kansas City, sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the owner of the adjacent property—whether that owner is a private person or a public entity. If a person suffered harm due to unsafe walkway conditions, he or she may be able to file a premises liability claim to recover needed funds.

Take the example of one woman who received a $100,000 settlement from the city last November after tripping on an uneven section of sidewalk in 2018. The woman fell on her left side and suffered injuries to her left knee, leg and ribs. Her successful claim included evidence from a Google search showing that the damaged area of sidewalk had been in the same hazardous state for over a year before the incident.

What type of compensation is available for fall-related injuries?

When an injury is severe, the economic and non-economic costs are often steep. To make matters worse, recovery often involves unpaid time away from work. In some cases, an individual may face permanent disability. In addition to recovering costs related to medical treatment, an injured party may be able to receive compensation for emotional distress, lost wages or reduced earning capacity.