Some accidents are just that — accidents. Others are wholly preventable. In 2003 I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex. All of the lights in the lot were out. ALL OF THEM. I stepped out of my car carrying a large coke and a pizza box, and walked around to the front of the vehicle.
My parking place was assigned. I’d parked in it everyday for almost two years. I made that trip around my car hundreds of times. This particular day, walking with my arms full in the dark and trusting that the ground was where it had always been was a seriously bad idea. The lights were out because the underground power line had been severed. The power line was severed when maintenance, trying to repair the sprinklers, dug a long narrow trench — which bisected the sidewalk leading to my door — and then left it unlit, unmanned and unmarked.
I stepped into the hole, wrenched my ankle, launched my soda into the air, belly-flopped onto the pizza and bashed my face into the curb. Somehow in the fall I managed to dislocate my left thumb and scrape my right cheek raw. I limped into the house and called my friend, an RN, who came over, fixed my thumb, cleaned and bandaged my face and helped me shampoo the pizza and soda out of my hair (I couldn’t use my hand).
The next day I went into the condominium office and filed a complaint. I told them I had a doctor’s appointment (true, my friend the RN insisted on x-rays) and I expected them to pay the bill. The manager refused. He said if I wanted the company to take any responsibility I’d have to sue. He also told me that without witnesses I had no case, so tough.
I let it go. It seemed like more hassle than a $50.00 bill was worth, but 6 years later my hand swells and that joint seriously hurts. I cannot lift or carry anything heavy in that hand. I can’t help but wonder if the fall is the cause. But what could I have done and ultimately, would it have made a difference? I think I probably should have contacted an accident lawyer for advice.