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Case Examples of Sidewalk Negligence

Case Examples of Sidewalk Negligence

In cases of personal injury involving sidewalks, whether public or private, negligence is a common claim that is brought against the party responsible for maintaining the sidewalk.

All property owners owe a duty to exercise reasonable care in maintaining their premises in safe conditions for their invitees. An invitee is a person who enters a property for business purposes or enters a property that is open to the public.

In order to recover for injuries in a slip and fall negligence claim a plaintiff must show that the defendant responsible for the premises had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and did not make any efforts to make the conditions safe. If you are a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, hiring an experienced cracked sidewalk injury lawyer in Florida may give you an edge in recovering compensation to make you whole again.

The following three cases are examples of negligence claims brought by individuals who were injured in sidewalk accidents.

A Pedestrian who Injured Himself When Cutting Across a Palm Tree Planter Should Have Known it was not Safe for Walking

TruGreen Landcare v. LaCapra 254 So. 3d 628

Charles LaCapra was walking when he tripped and injured himself after cutting across a palm tree planter square. He sued the landscaping company, TruGreen, for negligence in their maintenance and inspection of the planter square.

TruGreen argued that it owed no duty to La Capra to keep the landscaped areas in a safe condition or give any warning of a dangerous condition because landscaped areas are not dangerous conditions and any change in surface level was open and obvious. TruGreen also noted that LaCapra chose to bypass the safe sidewalk and walk through a landscaped area which he should have known would present a hazard.

LaCapra in response claimed that TruGreen knew or should have known that pedestrians would walk across the palm tree square. However, there was no evidence of continuous and obvious use of the planter square as a pedestrian shortcut and there was also no need for a shortcut because the planter square was surrounded by sidewalks on all sides.

The court in this case found that landscaping features are generally found not to constitute a dangerous condition as a matter of law. Additionally, there is no duty to make areas that are not made for walking reasonably safe for walking, or to warn pedestrians that they are not safe for walking. Anyone who walks into a planter is held to know that this is a walking hazard. The court in this case concluded that the palm tree planter was not a dangerous condition and granted a directed verdict for TruGreen.

A Plaintiff Must Show That a Defendant had Actual or Constructive Notice of the Dangerous Condition Which Caused Plaintiff’s Injury

Miami-Dade County v. Jones 232 So. 3d 1127

The Plaintiff in this case was walking on a sidewalk while visiting a barbeque stand when she slipped and fell on grease. The sidewalk was owned by Miami-Dade County and the Plaintiff sued the County, alleging that they negligently maintained the sidewalk by allowing the grease to remain on the sidewalk.

All premises owners owe a duty to exercise reasonable care to maintain their premises in safe conditions for their invitees. To recover for injuries in a slip and fall, a plaintiff must show that the defendant responsible for the premises had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.

In this case, the plaintiff conceded that the County did not cause the grease to spill onto the sidewalk nor did the County have actual knowledge of the grease on the sidewalk. There was also no evidence presented to the court showing how long the grease was on the sidewalk on the day that the Plaintiff slipped and fell. Plaintiff failed to present any evidence that a grease spill had ever occurred on the sidewalk prior to her fall, let alone with such frequency that the County knew or should have known about it.

Therefore, because Plaintiff failed to introduce evidence to show that the County had notice of the grease spill that caused Plaintiff to fall, the final judgment was reversed, and judgment was entered in favor of the County.

A Cause of Action for Negligence Existed Where a Plaintiff Slipped and Fell on a Crack in a Health Clinic’s Sidewalk, the Clinic Was Aware of the Crack and Took no Steps to Fix  

McKenzie v. City of Miami 648 So. 2d 290

In this case, the Plaintiff was walking on a sidewalk inside a health clinic’s property when she tripped and fell on a crack in the sidewalk. Plaintiff claimed that the crack had existed since 1986 and that employees of the health center had full knowledge of the crack since its existence.

Additionally, Plaintiff alleged that the defendant took no steps to fix the crack in the sidewalk or to warn the plaintiff or any other patient of the dangerous condition, negligence on behalf of the clinic in knowing that a crack existed but taking no steps whatsoever to fix the crack or warn any patient of the crack.

Plaintiff argues that the area should have been kept in a reasonably safe condition as it was the walkway to and from the health center.

The trial judge dismissed this claim for failure to state a cause of action for negligence. The Plaintiff appealed the trial court’s decision, seeking a review of the order granting the motion to dismiss.

On appeal, the court found that the allegations were sufficient to state a cause of action for negligence against the clinic due to the crack in the sidewalk which Plaintiff alleges that Defendant had notice of. The allegations made by the Plaintiff were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Do You Have a Question?

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40 years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience dealing with these personal injury cases. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert personal injury lawyer about your case, call Alan at 945-458-8655 or send him an email through our contact page.

To learn more about Alan and his experience, please see his bio page.