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What a Long Strange Sidewalk Trip Its Been – When Good Sidewalks Go Bad

By Stewart J. Guss on July 15th, 2014 sidewalk trip and fall

I think most people would be surprised at the number of VERY serious injury cases I handle because of extremely dangerous sidewalk conditions.  When most people think of premises liability cases, they probably think of slip and fall situations (spilled liquids, banana peels, etc.)  In reality, the TRIP and fall case comprises almost 30% of my premises liability docket, and often involves the most serious injuries.  The most common culprit?  The good sidewalk gone bad.

sidewalk trip and fallI’ve written before about the difference between a “slip and fall” and a “trip and fall” type case. Remember that in Texas, we must prove that a business owner knew or should have known about a specific dangerous condition in order to make a recovery.  This analysis often hinges on being able to prove that the dangerous condition was present long enough to be observed by the business owner.  The “bad sidewalk” case is the classic example of this type of situation.

Consider:  Most sidewalk trip and fall cases involve either a large crack in the slab or a dangerous offset between two slabs at the expansion joint.  Typically speaking, these defects occur as a result of root growth or ground settling over a long period of time, and this is very common in the Houston area.  This is a classic example of how we as lawyers can establish that the defect was “permanent” as opposed to “transient” (like spilled milk, or some grapes on the floor), and it makes our job MUCH easier when trying to establish that the business owner “knew or should have known” about the dangerous condition.

As a practical matter, the physics of these sidewalk trip and fall cases can result in some of the most serious injury cases we see on a premises liability docket.  I have one case which occurred when my client tripped and fell over a dangerous sidewalk offset one night at a local Houston restaurant and sustained injuries serious enough to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and permanent disability.  In this case, it turned out that the dangerous condition was clearly visible during the day, and was located on the part of the sidewalk that management used to walk in and out of the restaurant every day.  The repair, as it turns out, would have involved a simple “ramping” with an application of additional concrete between the slabs – a repair that would have cost less than five hundred dollars.  Because this Houston restaurant couldn’t be bothered with the repair or didn’t want to spend the money, my client tripped and fell over that sidewalk, and is now permanently disabled.

If you have had a trip and fall incident over a cracked or defective sidewalk and have been injured, please call Houston Personal Injury Attorney Stewart J. Guss at 800-898-4877 right now to discuss your claim.  Stewart has been representing personal injury victims in Houston, Tomball, Katy, The Woodlands, Cypress, Spring and the surrounding areas for 20 years.  Your consultation is absolutely free, and if you decide to hire Stewart, you will pay no fee unless he wins your case.

 

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