The Perils of Winter


Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::
The Problem: Winter in the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, can be a season of blizzards, ice storms, frozen water pipes, floods, and fallen trees. While we are rightfully concerned about these weather-related maladies, I am more concerned about slipping and falling on ice. If it happens to you and you are young, you may have injured only your pride or may be limping into spring.
But if you are 65 and older, unfortunately, you likely will end up with broken limbs, a broken hip, and/or a traumatic brain injury. The primary cause of injury for Americans 65 and older is falling on a hard surface, including ice. Continue reading “The Perils of Winter”

The Driver Pedestrian Safety Riddle

Parking Lot Safety

Johann F. Szautner, P.E., Civil Engineer ::::
Case Summary: On a late winter afternoon, an elderly couple drove to the shopping center. The husband stopped the car at the sidewalk in front of the store the wife wanted to visit. He left his wife off to do her shopping and told her he would pick her up as soon as he would see her leaving the store. After a short waiting time, he saw her exiting the store and began driving towards the sidewalk. Instead of waiting for him, she stepped off the sidewalk, took 2 – 3 steps, and was struck by an oncoming car. She succumbed to her injuries the following day. According to one eyewitness account, it was dusk at the time of the accident and the parking lot lights were not on. Another eyewitness testified that the car was speeding.
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The Duck Test

Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::

Case Synopsis: On a February evening, a lady went to a hospital to visit a friend. She mistakenly entered the emergency area in lieu of the hospital lobby and was directed to an exterior stairway leading to the lobby. While descending the stairs, she stepped off the bottom step, lost her balance and fell. She claimed that she slipped on ice; her allegation apparently passed the duck test and the hospital was sued. During the investigation, it was quickly discovered that this fall event failed the duck test, as the facts revealed a classic “everything is not what it seems to be” case.

Continue reading “The Duck Test”