Unsafe sidewalk conditions such as uneven slabs and cracks can result in serious injuries from trip-and-fall, bicycle accidents and, it turns out, Segway accidents.
Recently in California, the San Diego Tribune reported the city council had agreed to approve a $1.5 million settlement with a woman who suffered a Segway accident injury while riding on a sidewalk. Her husband was also awarded $200,000 for loss of consortium. Segways, which can be rented across the Orlando area as well, are those two-wheeled motorized vehicles that can carry a single person standing upright. Plaintiff was reportedly injured when she drove a Segway over a large area of damaged and broken sidewalk in the summer of 2015. She suffered a shattered pelvis requiring emergency surgery and permanent metal plates. She still requires intense physical therapy and currently relies predominantly on a wheelchair for mobility now. She sought damages for pain and suffering and lost wages, while her husband sought compensation for loss of companionship.
The city initially defended itself, arguing in responses that plaintiffs were negligent, careless and the damage to the pavement was open and obvious and could have been avoided had they been using reasonable care. The city also filed a cross-complaint against the Segway tour guide business from which plaintiff rented the vehicle. Ultimately, that company didn’t contribute to the payout because the company lacked liability insurance at the time of the accident and the company had limited assets. The city is now working on an ordinance that would require Segway tour operators to carry liability insurance, as well as adhere to other safety regulations.
Sidewalk injuries in that community have been notable in recent years. Another Segway accident in the same city spurred a separate action, with plaintiffs alleging wrongful death after the rider struck a 4-inch concrete stub in the sidewalk (created by removal of a light pole), causing him to suffer broken ribs, a toe amputation and damage to his heart defibrillator. That last issue plus an infection ultimately caused his death, plaintiffs say. That case is still pending. Last year, the city paid out nearly $5 million to a bicyclist who sustained severe head injuries after he was launched several feet off his bike after encountering a section of damaged sidewalk.
Of course, Florida cities, including Orlando, have had their own share of sidewalk accident injuries. A recent story by ABC Action News revealed there are 1,500 broken sidewalks on the Hillsborough County’s repair list. A report by the Sun Sentinel indicated in 2015 Fort Lauderdale alone had 106 miles of broken or damaged sidewalks – and those were just the sections the city had identified.
As our Orlando personal injury attorneys can explain, just because a person is injured on a sidewalk doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is entitled to compensation. In order to recover compensation, one generally needs to prove the condition of the sidewalk was either defective or dangerous. Some sidewalk conditions that might be considered defects include:
- A cracked or broken sidewalk;
- A sidewalk that is missing a slab;
- A slab that is loose;
- A difference in height between two sides adjoining;
- Improper sidewalk repairs;
- A sidewalk that retains water due to an improper slope.
Injuries resulting from unsafe sidewalk conditions may generally be covered by either a local government’s general liability insurance or the homeowner’s insurance of an adjacent property owner responsible for sidewalk maintenance, as set forth by local ordinance.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
San Diego paying out $1.7M for Segway injury on La Jolla street, June 8, 2018, ByDavid Garrick, The San Diego Union-Tribune
More Blog Entries:
Florida Slip-and-Fall Lawsuits Require Proof of Actual or Constructive Knowledge, June 4, 2018, Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer Blog