As fall progresses, the sight of more and more leaves on the ground can be a pleasant one if you like fall color or an annoying sight if you're the one who has to clean all the leaves up. But leaves on the ground can also be alarming because of their ability to make you fall. Not only do you need to be careful walking on them, but you and others around you need to be diligent in removing the leaves and ensuring passersby have a safe place to walk. If you do your part, and then an accident happens and you or someone else falls, you'll have a better idea of who holds liability.
Slick Sidewalks and Lawns
Dry, crunchy leaves on a dry lawn or sidewalk aren't necessarily a problem, especially if you're wearing good, stable shoes. But once the leaves and the surface they're on get wet, the leaves become slick and slippery. It's very easy to slip on a leaf like you would a banana peel. Even more dangerous is the possibility of hidden ice. Those leaves could be hiding a patch of ice that does more than make you wobble—it could send you sliding down the sidewalk.
If you or someone else slips on the leaves and sustains injuries, you have to find out who is liable. Sometimes it's the person who fell, plain and simple. For example, you're walking on the lawn in a public park during it's fall, and it's just rained, and you're wearing shoes with terrible traction. You aren't paying attention, and down you go. That's pretty much your responsibility because you should have been aware of the slippery, wet conditions, worn better shoes, and paid attention to where you were going.
But now let's say you're walking along a private sidewalk in an office park after it's just rained, and there are no traction mats or warning signs out when you step on a patch of wet leaves on smooth pavers. You're wearing shoes that have reasonably good traction and that you've worn on that surface before without a problem. You slip and injure yourself. Is it your fault for stepping on the leaves, or is it the building management's fault for not putting out mats and not cleaning up the leaves? If leaves are constantly falling, how much action can the management take to clean them all up quickly?
Once a fall has happened, whoever fell needs to see a doctor to see what's happening with the injury and how bad it is. Then the person needs to see a lawyer to figure out liability. Even if the injured person has good health insurance, deductibles and co-pays can make the final bills too big to handle. If it turns out someone else is at fault, that person needs to pay the bills.
A skilled personal-injury attorney can help you or the other injured person pick apart what happened to see whether there is any way to get reimbursement for bills, lost work time, and more. As mentioned, sometimes the accident is no one's fault except the injured person's, but you can't assume that until you talk to an attorney.
Talk to a law firm such as Hornthal Riley Ellis & Maland LLP for more personalized advice.