TRIP AND FALL
Many of us have suffered the embarrassment of tripping and falling on an uneven sidewalk with "friends" watching and laughing. Unfortunately, trip and fall accidents can result in serious injuries because the victim goes down hard onto a hard surface.
Many trip and fall accidents take place on the sidewalks of homeowners. So what is the duty of a homeowner?
According to Pennsylvania Law, homeowners have an obligation to maintain their sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. What is reasonably safe depends on the circumstances.
What happens if you have sidewalk slabs that are half an inch higher than the adjacent sidewalk slab? Pennsylvania Law most likely declares this to be a "trivial defect." However, what is trivial depends on all of the circumstances. Pennsylvania Courts have found in a trip and fall case that a sidewalk slab that was 1 to 2 inches higher than the one next to it was a dangerous condition and in another case that it was a trivial defect. Again, it all depends on the circumstances.
Pennsylvania Law, like most law, developed according to common sense. Our climate conditions in Pennsylvania vary from bitter cold winters to steamy hot summers. These conditions cause sidewalk slabs to rise and fall and then become uneven. Perfection is not required. However, if your sidewalk becomes noticeably uneven, the remedy is simple. Take a little concrete mix and even out the uneven sidewalk.
Trip and fall accidents can also occur in malls, home improvement stores, gyms, etc. For example, say you were at Lowes. You go around the corner and trip and fall over a pallet that has been left on the floor. In that case it is Lowe's duty not to leave items on the floor that may not be visible especially if you are going around a corner without visibility. That situation could change entirely if the pallet was left in the middle of an isle and could be easily seen from 100 feet away.
The best defense to trip and a fall injury is "you should watch where you were going." It's a good, common sense defense. The victim will often say that I would watch were I'm going but I'm also looking for items on your shelving units (store) or for cars (crossing street) or for people (walking on the sidewalk). No one constantly looks down. But we should see obvious defects that are plainly visible.
Department stores can also be responsible for trip and falls. For example, clothing stores can be so full of merchandise that it's hard to see what is on the floor. If there is a raised portion of the floor that is the identical color as the base of the floor and there is no warning, customers could trip and fall over a raised portion of flooring. Why? Shoppers are looking at clothes and not at their feet.