One such scenario involves uneven walking surfaces. Uneven walking surfaces may include a sidewalk that is cracked or raised by tree roots or a road or parking lot with potholes. In the winter time, icy or snow-covered sidewalks pose a potential hazard. What many people may not realize is that property owners are required to clear sidewalks of ice and snow in a timely fashion.
Trash, construction materials, and items being delivered to a building can be tripping hazards, and property owners are responsible for removing obstacles in the pedestrian's path that might cause a trip and fall. Displays outside a business can narrow usable sidewalk space, and pedestrians can be jostled and fall when maneuvering on a crowded sidewalk.
Outdoors is not the only hazardous place for walking. Pedestrians also face hazards indoors. For example, loose floor tiles or warped wood floors can lead to a fall. Loose or uneven carpet or floor mats and rugs that do not stay in place or have curled edges contribute to falls, as can broken or slippery stair treads. Wires can trip someone crossing a room. Wet floors are a serious hazard and building owners and cleaning crews must take care to warn the public of wet floors. Supermarkets, for example, present their own set of risks-bottles and packages break, spilling their contents in the aisles. Oily substances create a slick surface that is particularly dangerous, and substances like rice and cereal are also hazardous underfoot. For these reasons, restaurants, food courts, and movie theaters have to be vigilant about food and beverage spills.
There are certain laws that require property owners or their employees to be alert to dangerous conditions-uneven walking surfaces, broken stairs, ice, snow, obstacles-and remove them or make repairs. In determining responsibility in a slip and fall accident, a key issue that must be assessed is whether a reasonable person would have identified the condition as hazardous, and whether the property owner had ample opportunity to remedy the situation before the accident occurred. Did the hazardous condition or obstacle exist long enough that a reasonable property owner or employee could have taken action to eliminate the hazard? Could the hazardous condition have been made less dangerous through such measures such as relocating the hazard, or placing warning signs in the area, or preventing access to the location?
Parker Waichman's Long Island attorneys have been very successful in obtaining settlements for people injured resulting from trip-and-fall accidents.
Parker Waichman LLPA National Law Firm with offices in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Florida.
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