Falling Off a Step

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Q: In front of my son-in-law’s building, there is a raised walkway.  It extends four feet out from the face of the building.  This walkway is like a platform – running the length of the building, abutting several storefronts.  One end of the walkway slopes up from the sidewalk, and the other end has a five-inch step, down to the sidewalk.  I entered Fred’s store from the sloping end.  I exited toward the step, which I did not know about.

I say that Fred should have put up a warning sign and some handrails or other safety devices.  His lawyers say that the problem was “open and obvious” and that my inattention was the sole proximate cause of the accident: had I been looking, I would have seen the hazard and avoided my injuries.

A: In cases like this, attorneys often will hire an expert engineer – to give an opinion, for example, that the sidewalk and the walkway were too similar in color, or that there should have been colored stripes on the walkway or at the step, or that the warning paint was too faded, or that conditions created the illusion of a flat surface, visually obscuring the step.

Even if this hazard was somewhat open and obvious, that should not be fatal to your claim.  Rather, the circumstances would be relevant to your comparative fault, if any.  From what you tell me, your case ought to be able to get past summary judgment and survive to a recovery.

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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