Visitor Question

Liability for debris (particle board) causing fall and broken ribs?

Submitted By: (Raymond, WA, USA)

I live in Washington state. It was about 9pm and I was walking on the sidewalk. It was dark so I did not see the particle board laying across the sidewalk. It had just stopped raining. When I stepped on the board I slipped and fell hard onto my left side. I broke or cracked my ribs in at least two spots in the fall.

I would like to find out what my options are since this injury will affect my working abilities, not to mention the doctor bills? Who’s responsible for the particle board debris being on the sidewalk? Is it the city or the county, or the property owner? I’m really lost here for what to do. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear ,

You’re going to have to do some research to find the culpable party or parties. Start by contacting the city in which the sidewalk was located. A good place to begin is at the City Planning Department or County Clerk’s Office. Give the employee the exact location of the sidewalk. The employee should be able to tell you who was responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk.

In some cases, especially when a sidewalk is adjacent to a residential or business property, the property owner may be the responsible party. In other cases, its the city, county, or state.

Because of the seriousness of your injuries you may want to consider retaining a personal injury attorney. Less serious “soft tissue” injuries such as sprained or strained muscles, ligaments, etc., can normally be handled without an attorney. More serious injuries are best handled by an experienced lawyer.

Gather your medical records, photographs of the sidewalk area upon which you fell, receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses for medications, etc., and verification of your lost wages. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking the advice of an attorney. Most don’t charge for initial office consultations, and you will only have to pay legal fees if, and when, your attorney settles your claim or wins it at trial.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: January 4, 2014

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