Property Owner Defense of a Sidewalk Injury Lawsuit


Property owners typically carry policies of insurance to cover personal injury claims. If a person claims injury due to a sidewalk slip and fall, the insurance company will pay any adverse award.


Sidewalk injury claims against property owners are common in Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia does not maintain sidewalks. Each property owner is responsible to maintain their own sidewalk. Property owners who do not have insurance coverage are at risk of a major personal injury judgment.


Uninsured situations most often occur with estate properties, unoccupied properties, and buy and hold investments. For example, when a homeowner dies, the heirs may allow coverage to lapse. Investors who purchased properties without an occupant may also neglect to obtain coverage for different reasons.



If an allegedly injured person files a lawsuit, the City of Philadelphia is only secondarily responsible. If the City contributes to the judgment, the property owner must reimburse the city for any amount paid.


An undefended injury claim can be catastrophic to the property owner or estate heir. Below are some of the major problems an injury case can present:

  • loss of an inheritance or investment
  • a personal judgment against the owner
  • inability of the owner to sell other properties unless the judgment is paid
  • cost time, hassel, stress


Uninsured property owners facing an injury claim often believe a judgment is inevitable simply because the sidewalk contained a defect. But the simple fact that the sidewalk was in a state of disrepair does not guarantee a judgment.  


Below are 10 defenses that can help avoid a sidewalk slip and fall judgment:

  1. the defect was minimal
  2. the defect was open and obvious to the injured person
  3. the injured person could have taken an alternative route
  4. the injured person was aware of the condition and chose to proceed through it
  5. someone else was responsible for repairing the defect
  6. the injured person was partially or fully at fault for the accident
  7. the injury was not as severe as claimed
  8. the injury was pre-existing
  9. the injury was caused by something else
  10. the accident did not occur


Judgments in Philadelphia act as an automatic lien against all properties which the defendant owns. A lien requires the property owner to satisfy the judgment out of the proceeds of the sale. If the property owner does not sell the property, the plaintiff’s attorney can force a sale to satisfy the judgment.


As a real estate attorney to property owners, I help resolve legal disputes. If you know an uninsured property owner dealing with a sidewalk injury claim, please forward our contact information:


Phone (484) 690-4613


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