Your Rights if Injured by a Pothole in Philadelphia
Last year a Philadelphia Jury found a 3.2 million dollar verdict for a South Jersey cyclist who was injured during a charity bike ride in South Philadelphia when he hit a large pothole on the race course.
Degliomini, of Washington Township, was among 811 bicyclists who took part in the 20-mile charity ride, which began and ended at the team's stadium. Just as Degliomini was approaching the finish line, his bike hit the hole on Pattison Avenue between Second and Third Streets.
Although he was wearing a helmet, the father of two was knocked unconscious and was hospitalized for five days at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital before being transferred to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, where he stayed for 20 more days.
Degliomini, 55, who works for a Maple Shade automobile dealership, was awarded $1.4 million for lost earning capacity, $678,833 for medical expenses, $500,000 for past pain and suffering, and $500,000 for future pain and suffering. His wife, a homemaker, was awarded $100,000 for loss of consortium. The full story can be read about here.
Recovering for injuries caused by a pothole or sidewalk defect can be complicated. It seems obvious that the City of Philadelphia should be liable for keeping the public and shared spaces of the city in good repair. However, it can be complicated. In order to hold the City accountable for an injury caused by pothole, they must first know it exist and have done nothing about it. This is called a “notice” requirement.
City of Philadelphia must have Notice of the pothole or defect
The City must be on “notice” of the defect and yet fail to do anything about it in order to be found negligent and required to pay damages. Establishing notice is critical for any slip and fall lawsuit, but particularly against the City of Philadelphia. There are two types of notice: actual and constructive. Actual notice is exactly what it sounds like….the defect has actually been inspected or reported to the City and the City still has done nothing about it. Constructive notice is a legal term which means the City or a reasonable City would have or should have known of the defect, even if they didn’t have actual knowledge of it.
Philadelphia 311 Call Center
When presented with a client injured due to a pot hole or sidewalk defect, the experienced trip and fall lawyers at Troy Crichton, Esq. will begin a thorough investigation to determine if and when the City or responsible party had notice of the claim. One of the best ways to do this is a Freedom of Information request through the Philadelphia 311 Call Center. In a City with over 30,000 potholes annually, you would be shocked how many are regularly reported to the City through 311. Many citizens, concerned for their safety, the safety of their children, and neighbors, regularly lodge complaints about dangerous conditions on the roads and in their neighborhoods. When a trip and fall lawyer is able to collect and and analyze these records, the lawyer may be able to show that a particularly egregious pothole or sidewalk had been reported numerous times, yet the City did nothing about it. Such evidence can be critical at trial in proving the City’s negligence.
Philadelphia Can Be Liable for Injuries Caused by Un-Repaired Potholes and Sidewalks
The City of Philadelphia has certain protections. This is known as governmental immunity. Governmental immunity is a special protection that is not afforded to private persons or businesses. In Pennsylvania, governmental immunity is codified in the political subdivision tort claims act Section 8541 which provides that local agencies, such as the City of Philadelphia, are immune from civil liability. However, there are several exceptions to governmental immunity in the tort claims act. You need an experienced Philadelphia trip and fall lawyer, who is well versed in the tort claims act and the exceptions to governmental immunity, in order to determine whether you have a viable claim.
If you fall on a street owned by the City of Philadelphia and are injured, your Philadelphia trip and fall lawyer will need to determine if your claim meets the streets exception to governmental immunity. The streets exception to governmental immunity provides that the condition was “A dangerous condition of streets owned by the local agency, except that the claimant to recover must establish that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred and that the local agency had actual notice or could reasonably be charged with notice under the circumstances of the dangerous condition at a sufficient time prior to the event to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.”
If you fall on a dangerous condition of the streets in the City of Philadelphia, you may be able to bring a claim against the City of Philadelphia for your injuries. The PA tort claims act sets specific requirements regarding providing notice of your injury claim following a fall. Therefore, it is important to act quickly to preserve your legal rights. Contact Troy Crichton, Esq. an experienced Philadelphia trip and fall lawyer today at 267-225-3317. The consultation is free and confidential. Troy Crichton can help you determine whether you have a valid claim as well as what type of compensation you may be entitled.