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Removing iconic phone booths creates tripping hazard for New Yorkers

Dec 23, 2021

New York City’s famous payphones were once a staple for TV shows and films – think “Superman.” Just over a decade ago, about 22,000 of them were scattered around the five boroughs.

According to one news source, the city’s four remaining working phone booths are all on the Upper West Side. Unfortunately, thousands of these sites have now become tripping hazards for pedestrians.

Hazards + distractions = disaster

The rise of cellphones and smartphones sealed the fate of the payphones. However, where these old booths once stood, all that’s left are anchor bolts, some protruding several inches out of the concrete. These pieces of metal are located on sidewalks throughout the city, right where people walk.

Consider this, Times Square alone saw an average of 232,000 visitors each day in November. That’s a lot of opportunities for trip-and-fall accidents, especially as busy pedestrians are often using their smartphones as they walk. Seasoned New Yorkers know how to subconsciously avoid curbs, taxies, traffic poles, LinkNYC kiosks and street vendors while walking while looking down at their phones. However, no one is expecting a firm object that is unnoticed until you kick it.

A hard fall can easily result in a broken wrist, twisted ankle, cracked knee or worse. etc. While embarrassment won’t kill you, an injury can keep you from working and may lead to a long, painful recovery.

Can someone be held responsible if I trip and get hurt?

The most honest answer is, ‘maybe.’ If you are injured because of someone’s negligence, you can pursue a claim for your losses. That’s the case if you slip on a wet floor in a supermarket, stumble on a broken sidewalk that should have been repaired or trip over what remains of an old phone booth. Even if your face is planted in your phone, you have the right to walk down the sidewalk without encountering these types of unexpected hazards.

Many times, injuries that seem minor at first can result in significant medical expenses, and may force you to miss work and lose income. These types of cases – called premises liability claims – are complex cases because the party responsible could be the city of New York, the entity that ordered the phone booth’s removal, the contractor who removed them or someone else. Don’t chalk up a slip, trip or fall to clumsiness. Learn about your options for recovery.

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