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 where the owner dies but the heirs do not maintain the insurance coverage. Representatives of the deceased person’s estate or the heirs may be faced with a lawsuit for which there is no coverage to pay a potential judgment.



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 result in the loss of the inheritance property. Below are some of the major problems an injury case can present:

  • loss of the family property
  • a personal judgment against the owner
  • inability of the owner to sell other properties unless the judgment is paid
  • loss of time, stress and uncertainty until the case is resolved

Uninsured property owners facing an injury claim often believe a judgment is inevitable simply because the sidewalk contained a defect. But the mere 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 or the estate owns. If the judgment is not paid, the lien must be satisfied out of the proceeds of an eventual sale of the property. If the property owner does not sell the property, the plaintiff’s attorney can force a sale to satisfy the judgment.

As a probate attorney to estate executors, I help defend family properties from uninsured injury claims. If you know an uninsured property owner dealing with a sidewalk injury claim, please forward our contact information:

Phone (215) 918-4242


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