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What Standards Should There Be For Sidewalk Falls?

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Sep 14, 2012 in Slip & Fall

Pennsylvania law does not require that sidewalks be free of defects, imperfections or irregularities. It is required that sidewalks be an a reasonably safe condition. Many sidewalks are uneven as result of weather and tree roots. The natural conditions make a perfectly even sidewalk impossible.  Gosha v. City of Philadelphia, 7 Phila. 302 (1982).

If a depression or irregularity on the  sidewalk may be so trivial that courts may hold, as a matter or law, that there was no negligence in permitting such a depression or irregularity to exist.  The standard that has been established for determining triviality is “that a paving defect is trivial when ‘it would be completely unreasonable, impractical and unjustifiable’ to hold a defendant liable for its existence.”  Gosha v. City of Philadelphia, 7 Phila. at 313 (citing Bosack v. Pittsburgh Railway Co., 189 A.2d 877, 880 (Pa. 1963)).

The factors which must be looked at to determine whether the irregularity is trivial are: the amount of travel over the location, the actual location of the rise or depression, the character and material with which the pavement is constructed, the nature of the irregularity, and other circumstances. The joints between sidewalk pavers are often uneven over time.
The courts have held that a two or three inch difference in sidewalk level between joints or divisions is only a trivial defect.  The court reasoned that if there were no holes or breaks in the concrete and that other than the fact that the two sections do not meet on precisely the same plane, the sidewalk was in good condition.
 
A personal injury lawyer can investigate a premises liability case.  If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or killed because of the negligence or recklessness of a property owner contact Central Pennsylvania based Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers, with offices in Harrisburg and Camp Hill, and we will answer any questions you have about the accident and the legal rights you may have due to the personal injury and losses.