Anyone who has ever tripped or got their shoes soaked after stepping on a loose street tile will celebrate the fact that an Appeals Court has ordered the Buenos Aires City government to pay AR$550,000 compensation for a woman who was injured after suffering just that in the neighborhood of Agronomía.
Judges Ana María Brilla de Serrat and Osvaldo Onofre Álvarez ruled that the government should pay the half a million pesos to the local resident, a woman who was 63 years old at the time, for “physical, psychological, aesthetic and moral damages.”
The street-tile victim was walking down Helguera street (on the corner of Pedro Morán) on March 24, 2010, when she tripped on a broken tile that was jutting out by 10 centimeters and fell into a flowerbed. The results were “a fractured neck and a [broken] humerus that [left] irreversible repercussions in her shoulder movement” with scars to prove it. The court considered that she had suffered a “30 percent reduction in physical health and psychological harm” and determined that the woman’s injuries were a direct result of the loose tile.
The City Government’s defense? Blame the victim:
“The accident [was] the victim’s fault [because] she lives practically next to the house where she said she fell,” the City lawyers said. Although the government is responsible for making sure the streets are in a good state, “there cannot be a specific control [mechanism] for every block in the City, it’s impossible.”
The appeals court was having none of it, and insisted that “the responsibility for the damages caused due to the bad state of the sidewalks belongs to the City Government.”
So, yes, there is a bit of justice in this world. Eventually. And if you’re reading this on your phone, watch out for the sidewalk!