An elderly woman in New Jersey was severely injured after falling nearly six feet into the cellar of a building in Plainfield earlier this week. The 67-year old was walking down the sidewalk when she tripped over an open cellar door and fell head-first into the basement. The whole sidewalk cellar door accident was capture on video. The evidence clearly shows the individual working in the basement (repairing gas lines according to police) had failed to put up hazard notifications such as caution tape or cones.
While it appears at first that the woman was talking on her cellphone while walking, further investigation revealed that she is actually legally blind and diabetic. So it was very likely that the woman had trouble distinguishing the open door from the sidewalk surrounding it. As the video shows, the woman only noticed the open sidewalk cellar door an instant before she fell.
Legally sidewalk cellar door accidents in New York City fall under premises liability law. The owner of a building (or the operator of the business inhabiting that building) has a legal responsibility to protect the welfare of people walking on the sidewalk adjacent to the property. If, as in this case, they fail to block off hazards (like an open cellar doorway) and a pedestrian is injured because of their inaction, they could be held financially liable for that person’s injuries. The injured woman can recover financial compensation for her pain and suffering, unpaid hospital and medical bills and lost time from her employment.
The victim was seriously injured in this fall but was listed as stable at a nearby hospital. Even if the woman makes a full recovery, her mishap should serve as a warning to us all: watch where you’re walking.
If you’ve been injured because of an unprotected sidewalk hazard, contact an experienced sidewalk cellar door accident attorney in New York City today