Trip Hazard, Risk Management


Trip and fall accidents are a major concern for public and private property owners. The major causes of trip and fall accidents within the public right of way are vertical displacements in the sidewalk or curb, and divots in the sidewalk or crosswalk. Trip hazards are often caused by invasive roots of nearby trees or shrubs. In these instances normal maintenance such as ramping or grinding of the trip hazard will only be a temporary fix as the roots continue to “push-up” or displace the sidewalk to the point where a trip hazard forms again a short time later. Other causes of trip hazards include the freeze-thaw cycle and settling of the sidewalk or curb foundation.

The settlements from trip hazard lawsuits vary with the type of fall, the person who fell, the damage that was done, and negligence of the owner of the trip hazard (i.e., if they knew about the trip hazard yet did nothing about it). A typical settlement may be $100K or more for elderly persons (they tend to get broken bones more easily) and around $10K to$50K for most other accidents where more minor damage has occurred.

VanderHawk Consulting provides trip hazard management services to help public and private agencies reduce their financial losses due to trip and fall lawsuits. We inspect the agency’s infrastructure for current and potential trip hazards and create a comprehensive trip hazard management program that will help the agency to prioritize maintenance. The costs for these services varies on the size of the infrastructure network and the amount of data that is to be collected. These costs, however, pale in comparison to the potential losses that can occur from trip and fall lawsuits. If our trip and fall management services help to reduce the number of lawsuits by just 2 or 3, they will have often paid for themselves. Additional savings can be realized for agencies that also utilize our other infrastructure management services at the same time, such as pavement management and ADA compliance services.