Q: While rollerblading in my residential neighborhood, I tripped and fell. Moments before the accident, I had been traveling on the street. Then, I noticed a truck blocking my path. So I skated onto a driveway in order to travel for a bit on the sidewalk. I skated by several houses and then attempted to reenter the street using a second driveway. As I neared the end of the second driveway, I checked for oncoming traffic but did not stop. All of a sudden, one of my skates struck a two-inch height differential – where the edge of that driveway met a drainage culvert that ran the length of the street.
A: In general, a landowner has a duty to maintain his or her premises in a reasonably safe condition. Your attorney will contend that the defendants’ duty to make their premises reasonably safe included a duty to alter the height differential at the base of their driveway to accommodate even rollerbladers – not just pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists.
The defendants may argue that you were aware of the risks, had an appreciation of the nature of the risks and voluntarily assumed the risks, but the defendants will not succeed with this argument. In New York it works only for sporting events, sponsored athletic and recreational activities, and athletic or recreational pursuits that take place at designated venues.
Our courts have held that acceptance of an ‘assumption of the risk’ argument in cases involving someone traversing a street or sidewalk would whittle away too much at the general duty of landowners to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Although you may well have been contributorily negligent, our courts will not say you assumed a risk.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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