Posted On: April 12, 2012 by Stephen Bilkis

A lady had just parked on the handicapped parking space outside a diner

A lady had just parked on the handicapped parking space outside a diner located at 2101 Middle Country Road in Centereach, New York. She was accompanied by her daughter. She was going to eat in the diner and was using the ramp that led from the parking lot, up the incline, to the handicapped ramp when she had a trip and fall on November 21, 2005. She failed to distinguish the lip on the cement curb that marked the edges of the handicapped ramp. The ramp was painted the same color as the surrounding curb that she had no visual cue. She did not see what caused her trip and fall; neither did her daughter who was beside her. But she sustained injury and so she sued the owner of the premises, the lessee who owned and operated the diner and lastly, she also sued the architectural firm that designed the diner and the handicapped ramp.

The architectural firm was the one who filed the motion for summary judgment asking for the dismissal of the complaint against it because although it admits that it had created the design and plan for the diner and also created and designed the handicapped ramp, it only created and designed the main handicapped ramp which ran from the curb up to the diner itself. It did not create or design the portion of the handicapped ramp that extended from the curb to the handicapped parking lot. It proffered evidence that under its contract for architectural services, it only designed the main ramp and the diner itself but it was the owner of the diner that had constructed the extension of the ramp so that it will flow smoothly until the handicapped parking space.

More importantly, the architectural firm does not own, occupy or control the building, the handicapped ramp, the curb or the handicapped parking space. It had finished its contractual obligation when it had designed the diner and the main ramp and when it had created the ramp and installed it. Beyond this, it had no control over that portion added by the diner owner to extend the ramp up to the handicapped parking space.

The architectural firm vigorously argued that it has never made special use of the premises where the lady’s accident occurred and it never created the defective condition that the lady asserts to have caused her trip and fall. Besides this, from the photographs that the architectural firm submitted, it appears that the defective condition complained of appears to be open and obvious. The ramp itself is not inherently dangerous.

And also from the lady’s testimony during her deposition, it does not appear that she was entirely sure that it was the ramp that caused her trip and fall. She did not know what caused her to trip and to fall. Her daughter, in her testimony during her deposition, could not say either what caused the lady’s trip and fall. The ramp could have been just the side of the accident but not the cause of it.

The lady submitted a deposition testimony by an engineering expert to prove that the elevation of the ramp was not according to the specifications of the building code or the law requiring access ramps for the physically handicapped.

The Court granted the motion for summary judgment prayed for by the architectural firm for the sole reason that the architectural firm did not own, possess or control the ramp where the accident occurred. The architectural firm has finished its contract with the diner and the contractual tie with them has long been severed by the fulfillment of its obligations.

The lady’s expert witness, the engineering expert may have proved that the ramp was not constructed according to the required specifications of ramps but it failed to prove that it was the architectural firm that had caused the ramp to be installed in violation of the statutory specifications.

Going up handicapped ramps may be simple enough for able-bodied individuals, but for the handicapped, given that they are handicapped, going up ramps is precarious. If a handicapped person has a trip and fall on a handicapped ramp, what can she do? What is her recourse under the law? She is more likely to be told that her handicap raised her risk of tripping and falling. How can she claim damages for injuries she sustained? Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates and meet with a New York Trip and Fall lawyer who can explain to you your rights. A New York Trip and Fall lawyer is specifically trained to gather evidence and present them so that you can be compensated for your injury. Stephen Bilkis and Associates have able New York Trip and Fall lawyers who can assist you. Call today and confer with a New York Trip and Fall lawyer at any of their conveniently located offices in the New York area.