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Plaintiff Argues Negligent Maintenance of Sidewalk Caused Slip and Fall Injury


On June 3, 2008, a woman was walking her dog. She was on the sidewalk in front an apartment building on 131 Freedom Avenue at around 8:30 am when her dog suddenly bolted and pulled her along. It was then that she stepped on a crack on the sidewalk which was three inches long and about two inches wide and two inches deep. She had a trip and a fall when she stepped on the crack. She tore the ligament on her left foot, sprained it and fractured a small bone for which she has to have surgery.

She filed a suit in damages against the owner of the apartment building and the building management alleging that they were negligent in maintaining the sidewalk in front of their building and their negligence caused her trip and fall.

After the depositions of the woman and the building superintendent were taken, it was established that the woman had been passing that sidewalk as she walked her dog three or four times a week and has never seen the crack before. It was also established that the crack was between one to two inches deep. Photographs were shown and marked into evidence which, according to both the woman and the building superintendent, were accurate depictions of the actual crack in the sidewalk.

The Supreme Court is now called upon to determine whether the crack was too trivial a defect to have constituted a trap or a nuisance. If the Court finds the defect trivial, then the motion for summary judgment will be granted and the complaint will be dismissed.

The Court opined that there is no dimension test of length, width, height or depth to determine if the crack is trivial or not. The entirety of the factual circumstances will have to be looked at to determine if the defect in the sidewalk is too trivial to be actionable. Both the woman and the building superintendent presented and identified photographs during their depositions but while the photographs presented during the deposition may have depicted the actual sidewalk, the dimensions of the crack in the sidewalk cannot be accurately judged on the basis of the photographs. Other evidence must be considered to arrive at a determination that the defect is trivial.

The Court then turned to the testimonies of the parties on deposition. It appears that the woman had been living in the same apartment complex since April 2000, eight years before her accident. She testified that she has never noticed the defect in the sidewalk even if she walked on that sidewalk every day. She walked her dog many times each and every day on the same sidewalk but she has never noticed the crack before. The building superintendent testified that there have been no reports of accidents involving cracks in that sidewalk.

Neither of the parties actually measured the exact dimensions of the crack in the sidewalk.

The woman said it was around two inches deep and the building superintendent said it was around one inch deep. The photographs from both the woman and the building superintendent reveal that there are several similarly shaped and sized shaded spots along the sidewalk. But none of the photographs are clear enough for the court to see the actual dimensions of the crack.

From all this, the Court then draws the conclusion that the crack is too trivial to have caused the trip and fall of the woman. She may have sustained injuries as a result of the trip and fall but the building owner and the building manager cannot be made responsible for her injuries. The Court dismissed the complaint.

Suffering pain and injury from a trip and fall on a crack in the sidewalk is never trivial. But do you know how to present your case so that your injury is not written off as trivial? At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we have ably trained New York Trip and Fall lawyers who can help you. They can explain to you your rights under the law, they can help prepare your case, argue your side and help see you through so that you are compensated.

Call Stephen Bilkis & Associates and meet with any of its New York Trip and Fall Lawyers at any of their offices in and around the New York area. Let the New York Trip and Fall Attorneys advice you and guide you when you find yourself nursing an injury resulting from someone else’s negligence. Without a New York Trip and Fall Attorney you may lose your rights. Do not delay, call Stephen Bilkis & Associates and ask them to recommend a New York Trip and Fall Lawyer to help you.

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