Slip and Fall – a Year Round Hazard

A case that was settled earlier this summer just west of the GTA illustrates one important point: slip and fall accidents aren’t limited to the winter months that we typically associate with slippery conditions. They can occur year round provided the conditions are right, and the elderly are particularly at risk.

A Crack in the Sidewalk

The case goes back to 2012, when an 89-year-old woman tripped on a sidewalk in Hamilton, Ontario, breaking her wrist and hip. The age of the victim makes the injuries especially serious and debilitating, and the courts awarded her $192,000 in damages against the City.

The details:

  • The crack or bump in the sidewalk was a mere 23.8 millimetres, or less than 1-inch. It involved a gap between the sidewalk sections, where one edge was raised over the other.
  • The woman in question lived in the area and broke her left wrist as well as her hip.
  • She required hip replacement surgery as a result.

The judge noted that the standard of upkeep for the City, “need only be reasonable in terms of both inspection practices and repair practices.” He noted that the City even marked similar sidewalk gaps of 20 millimetres and over for repair and that the City is to inspect all sidewalks each year. The inspections are carried out by a third party contractor which uses students to walk more than 2,800 kilometres of sidewalk to report on such cracks. The City was able to provide such surveys for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 – but not 2012. The judge also took note of the fact that the gap still hadn’t been repaired when the case was eventually heard in court – in May of 2015.

In writing the judgement, the judge stated that the City had failed in upholding its own guidelines, which were to repair raised edges in sidewalks of over 19 millimetres. Adding drama to the case, a City of Hamilton worker was treated as a hostile witness who was obviously biased in favour of his employer when giving testimony.

It’s not the first time this has happened, either. Taking the year 2012 as an example, the City of Hamilton had to pay more than $1 million in damages – while paying out only 71 out of 842 claims for similar “stumble and fall” incidents (i.e. not including slips on the ice or snow). There’s no doubt that other municipalities in the GTA have similar statistics.

The Real Cost of Slip and Fall Injuries

While the City only tolls up the amounts it is required to pay, the victims toll up the real costs. Despite her advanced age, the woman had been living an independent life in her own apartment.  The accident meant six weeks in hospital along with months and months of rehabilitation.

Slip and fall injuries can result in soft tissue injuries, sprains, and serious conditions like broken bones as in this case – or even worse. It’s no joke and it’s not a case of trying to exploit the system. You count on being able to navigate your world and especially public places, with ease and you rely on agencies like local governments or private business owners to keep the areas they are responsible for free from hazards.

  • In the event of a slip and fall injury, it’s important to get medical attention right away even if your injuries seem relatively minor.
  • The second thing you need to do is to contact a slip and fall lawyer immediately. It’s the only way you can fully protect your interests and try to get the compensation you need to start on the road to recovery and rehabilitation.

At Petrillo Law, we work on behalf of injured people to get them the compensation they deserve. As experienced slip and fall lawyers, we understand the pain and uncertainty that comes with being injured. We have successfully recovered damages on behalf of hundreds of slip and fall victims throughout Mississauga, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ontario. And we can help you too.

Call us (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced slip and fall injury lawyer.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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