Storm drains are not sewers, and some communities in the United States find it important to point that out to their citizens. In Springfield, Missouri, the city hired artists to paint murals on the storm drains that depicted the rain water returning to the surrounding rivers and streams. While it sounds like a great idea, sometimes it takes a little more planning to get these types of projects to go right and it cost the city of Springfield’s insurance carrier a lot of money to learn a lesson about painted murals on city sidewalks.
Why One City Turned Storm Drains Into Art
The Springfield storm drain murals are works of art that are designed to help citizens remember that the rainwater goes back into the ecosystem and that dumping foreign substances into the drains is a bad idea. Artists were commissioned and many of the drains close to city buildings were adorned with murals that stretched from the sidewalks into the streets.
When they planned the project, Springfield leaders knew that paint on the sidewalk would make them slippery. To remedy this problem, the murals were covered in a protective coating each year that not only helped to protect the artwork but, also added the necessary layer of friction to help people safely walk on the murals. However, when it came to developing the schedule for re-applying the transparent protective coating, the city dropped the ball.
In July 2017, a man from Florida had a slip and fall accident when the storm drain mural he stepped on was not coated with the protective material. The city liability, in this case, was obvious, and that meant that Springfield’s insurance carrier had to pay a settlement of $200,000 to the victim. If the same situation had occurred in Philadelphia, what would the process be to seek compensation from the city for this personal injury incident?
Are There Storm Drain Murals In Philadelphia?
The paint used to create street murals is extremely thick and durable, and it fills in all of the small cracks and imperfections on a sidewalk that can help to create more friction for safe walking. Currently, Philadelphia does not have storm drain murals. However, if the city of Philadelphia ever decided to have storm drain murals, it would have to worry about slippery sidewalks in the warm weather, and in the rain. But the added element of snow and ice in Philadelphia would make storm drain murals even more tricky to pull off without endangering public safety.
What would happen if Philadelphia decided to line its streets with storm drain murals? The city is responsible for making sure that all of the sidewalks and streets are safe for people to use. If there is an area that is unsafe for people to use, the city is responsible for shutting down that portion of road or sidewalk with clearly marked signs and then making repairs. If the city decided to paint slippery murals on the sidewalks, it would be adding an element of danger that would definitely increase city liability.
To protect itself, the city would coat the murals with the same type of substance that Springfield uses to cover its murals and make the sidewalks safe. But as we have seen from the example in Springfield, one mistake by the city’s maintenance department and someone could get hurt. In that instances, a personal injury lawsuit would be one of the quickest ways to file for compensation for those injuries.
Suing The City Is Different Than Suing An Individual
If you slipped and fell on ice on a Philadelphia sidewalk in front of a home or business, the chances are very good that the city would not be to blame. In most of these types of instances, the owner of the residential or commercial property is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks and you would have to sue them. But if you fall in front of an official building such as a government office or a school, then the city would be liable. We have written about this here.
In the state of Pennsylvania, you have up to two years to bring a personal injury case against a property owner. This means that you can spend time researching who actually owns the property, hire an attorney to put together a good case with the evidence available, and then file your suit. In most cases, a commercial or residential property owner’s insurance company will settle out of court to keep costs down.
That seems straightforward, but the rules are different when the city is involved. In Pennsylvania, you have six months to notify a city or other municipality that you intend to file a personal injury lawsuit for a slip and fall accident. For this process, you will want to retain an experienced attorney who can put together a compelling case that will actually be heard by a court. In some cases, the city of Philadelphia can refuse to hear your case, which would limit your legal opportunities.
What If There Is A Valid Case?
If the city of Philadelphia decides to paint street murals and you have a slip and fall accident on one of those murals in front of a public building, your case sounds pretty strong. But in the history of personal injury law, municipalities have a lot of tricks they can use to win their argument, or even have your case thrown out. In general, municipalities hate being sued and, since they make the laws, they put in plenty of protections against losing slip and fall lawsuits.
If you have a valid slip and fall case due to negligence with city sidewalk maintenance, then you should not give up on your case. A good attorney will know the process for filing your case, and then know how to see your case through to the end. Municipalities, like any slip and fall lawsuit defendants, will try to negotiate a settlement prior to the case going to court. This is where having an experienced attorney will serve you well as your attorney might tell you to take the settlement as your chances of winning in court are not very good.
Why The Florida Man Won His Case Against The City
The city of Springfield, Missouri wanted to do something to help remind its citizens not to pour toxic substances down the city’s storm drains. The solution was to paint street murals that reminded people that the substances that go into the storm drains can ultimately wind up in the city’s water supply. These storm drain murals also reminded people that the water that is run off into the surrounding streams and rivers also affects all of the wildlife in the area.
These street murals not only serve as effective reminders for citizens, but they also helped to bring Springfield a new level of notoriety. However, when the protective coating on these murals wears off, the paint turns the sidewalks into a slick surface and the city learned a hard $200,000 lesson when someone filed a slip and fall claim because of improperly maintained storm drain murals.
In Philadelphia, storm drain murals are not quite as prevalent, but they do present an interesting discussion for slip and fall accidents. When the city decides to add something to the public sidewalks, the city is ultimately responsible for any injuries that occur as a result of those additions. If you are ever injured because of the conditions of the sidewalks in Philadelphia, then you should hire an attorney quickly as your window of opportunity to file a claim is much shorter when there is a public entity involved.