Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety/Slip, Trip and Fall Expert
Case Description: While walking on the sidewalk toward the apartment she rented, the plaintiff alleged that she stepped onto an icy patch and fell, resulting in multiple injuries. Plaintiff’s expert opined that the sidewalk had a slight concave surface to it, allowing water from weather events to pool in it. Freezing temperatures allowed the pooled water to freeze, causing the slipping hazard that the plaintiff experienced. The plaintiff sued the property owner and property manager.
Expert Analysis: A site survey was conducted approximately a year after the incident to gather evidence. Still photography and videography were performed, as well as slope measurements. The evidence showed that the incident sidewalk surface was indeed concave; however, it was also sloped to a degree that allowed water to completely run out of the slightly dished area. The survey also revealed that adjacent to the alleged fall location was a decorative stone half-wall that a prudent pedestrian might grasp onto in order to afford stability while walking over ice, if any had been present. The plaintiff alleged that she chose not to grasp the half-wall.
Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety/Slip, Trip and Fall Consultant
Case Description/Summary: While preparing for an annual festival, the plaintiff, a temporary employee of the property owner, was helping a frozen fish delivery person load the delivered products into an exterior walk-in cooler. The plaintiff loaded frozen fish boxes onto a cart and he intended to pull the cart up the cooler’s interior metal ramp so that he didn’t have to carry each individual box. He never looked down at the ramp floor before stepping upon it.
The plaintiff’s walking actions were not those of a normal pedestrian, just walking upon a flat, level surface. He was on a sloped ramp that was 8.3% sloped from the normal plane (a moderately slight incline from a horizontal plane). Under normal walking conditions, this slope would be considered shallow and far from being excessive – even for pedestrians with walking difficulties. The steeper a slope is, the more a pedestrian standing on it will have his weight (see black arrow in the illustration below) act to affect a slide down the ramp. This is because when weight is applied to a sloped surface, a portion of the weight vector will go “normal” (perpendicular – see yellow arrow) to the ramp’s surface. The remaining force vector of the weight would be applied parallel (see green arrow) to the sloped surface.
Bryan J. Smith, P.E., Construction Site Safety / Slip, Trip and Fall Consultant
Case Description/Summary: A retail patron attempted to exit the establishment’s front entryway when a piece of raised duct tape on the flooring caught his toe causing him to trip and fall down the exterior steps of the facility. The plaintiff received serious and permanent injuries during this event.
Expert Analysis: A site survey was conducted approximately two years after the incident to gather evidence on behalf of the plaintiff. The building’s entryway threshold was found to have duct tape, similar to that seen in photos taken by the plaintiff at the time of the incident. (see photo below). It was apparent that the establishment’s owner/operator used the duct tape to secure loose rolled vinyl flooring at the door’s threshold position. The owner/operator would remove and reapply duct tape at that location “as-needed” when it became loose and detached. His actions established notice of the condition and the temporary nature of the duct tape “repair.”