Posted September 20, 2016 | Slip and Fall
Any Philadelphia resident sees them every day: the jagged, grey stumps that are left behind when a street sign is knocked over or removed. These inconspicuous “pole stumps” only protrude a few inches from the sidewalk, but that’s precisely what makes them so dangerous. They are small and mundane enough to go unnoticed, but large enough to cause a serious accident. If you were injured after tripping over a pole stump in Philadelphia (or other cities in Pennsylvania), you may be able to get compensated with help from a Philadelphia slip and fall injury attorney.
From an engineering standpoint, pole stumps serve a practical purpose. When a driver has a car accident in Philadelphia and collides with a street sign, the stump allows the pole to break away more easily than a rigid post. This can help reduce the damage to the striking vehicle, because the pole moves with the car instead of resisting the impact. It also makes life easier and more cost-efficient for utility workers, who can set up a new pole using the leftover base without the need to add replacement concrete.
Pole stumps may be a boon to city workers (and careless drivers); but for everyone else, they’re a serious injury hazard. Unless you habitually walk with your eyes glued to the sidewalk, it only takes a single misstep to snag a toe on one of these tiny obstacles, which send their victims flying down onto hard, potentially glass-littered concrete.
If you think I’m exaggerating the danger, consider this: over the past 18 months alone, the city of Philadelphia has paid out more than $1 million to settle no fewer than 20 lawsuits brought by pole-related trip and fall victims. And they aren’t minor injuries like bruises and scraped knees – on the contrary, several pole stump victims have required hospitalization.
Take, for example, the case of Walter Mazur. In 2012, Mazur was jogging near his home in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood when one of his running shoes snared on the lip of an unnoticed pole stump, violently projecting him onto the sidewalk in a high-velocity fall accident, which occurred near the intersection of Richmond Street and East Tioga Street.
In the words of Mazur’s attorney, the stump “literally felled him like a tree.” The result was a myriad of severe injuries, including a fractured patella (kneecap), broken nose, and broken elbow. Mazur also sustained severe oral injuries, fracturing “multiple teeth” which “broke away from his mouth.”
Of even greater medical significance, Mazur struck his head forcefully enough to lose consciousness, sustaining “severe closed-head injuries” which, according to his attorney, led to “really significant cognitive difficulties that continue to this day,” that being August 17, 2016 – about four years after the accident occurred.
In September 2013, Mazur filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia, alleging that his injuries were caused by negligence. In some cases, cities are liable for sidewalk falls.
According to Mazur and his counsel, trucks backed into the street sign with such frequency that city employees finally decided to move the sign to the center of the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the relocation did nothing to prevent trucks from continuing to hit the sign, eventually “leaving well-anchored shards of twisted metal in their wake,” according to the complaint.
In August 2015, almost two years later, the city settled with Mazur for $300,000. Mazur also received additional slip and fall compensation from confidential settlement agreements with several other defendants, namely PIDC Philadelphia, which functions as the city’s economic development corporation, and the company whose truck drivers were responsible for repeatedly hitting the sign. The amounts of those settlements were not publicly disclosed.
As lawsuit data indicates, Mazur is not alone in going through such an ordeal. In February 2013, Toni Goodwin tripped over a pole stump while returning to her car after attending a wake in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood. Her trip and fall accident, which occurred near the Triumph Baptist Church at 1648 West Hunting Park Avenue, caused Goodwin to rupture a tendon in her thigh. Goodwin needed to undergo surgery to repair the ruptured tendon.
Like Mazur, Goodwin received a settlement from the city of Philadelphia. The settlement amount in Goodwin’s case was $110,000.
These types of incidents don’t require extreme conditions, high speeds, or major product defects – they are waiting to happen at any moment, every time you walk down the street in Philadelphia (or any other major city).
If you or one of your family members was injured in a slip, trip and fall accident in Port Richmond, Nicetown, or other neighborhoods of Philadelphia, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be able to get compensated for your medical bills, income losses, and other hardships and expenses. To set up a free legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (888) 789-3161 today.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*