According to many legal sites, most from personal injury lawyers, the trip and fall “Trivial Defect Rule” covering sidewalks or other defects on public or private property originally dictated that the property owner is not liable for injuries sustained by individuals if the trip hazard was considered “trivial”. Trivial usually meant the trip defect was any change in height less than 3/4 inch. A few years back, a couple of rulings in California’s court of appeals changed all that. The court opinionated that all circumstances surrounding the trip and subsequent injury must be taken into account, expanding the parameters of the Trivial Defect Rule, and determined that measurement alone was not a basis for a trivial defect defense.
“What the heck does all that mean”? Well, if you are a property owner, property manager, city manager, insurance agent, or lawyer representing property owners, HOA’s or any large business/public entity with public or private access, you might want to take a walk around the facilities and take note of the condition of your public access ways. “Holy smokes”, there’s more than you imagined. “Call my insurance agent, call my lawyer, call my contractor..” Oops…Property owners beware, there’s a target on your back and a personal injury lawyer that’s got you square in his sights, especially if you have a high traffic public walkway. Bottom line here; “Fix That Trip Hazard” With the astronomical costs associated with litigation, or settling even the smallest trip and fall accident, how many trip hazards at your location[s] is “one trip hazard too many”? I suppose that will be determined by your pain threshold. If someone actually is injured, most likely it will be determined by a court of law, and you will be the liable party.
While there are a multitude of trip hazards that can never be eliminated, the number one cause of trip and fall lawsuits nationwide, uneven sidewalks and public walkways, can be quickly and efficiently repaired in less than one hour. Back in the good old days of dirt paths and roadways, Mother Nature may have been the cause of grandma falling on her face, but grandma sure couldn’t sue the farmer whose path she crossed. We all cursed the ground we walked on, nursed our wounds and moved on. Today designer thruways and walkways built with concrete and stone are the shining glory of every community and property owner in America. And thanks to Mother Nature they tend to move around quite a bit. Maybe we shouldn’t have cursed her so much…Trip Hazard. Gone in a flash…
Polyurethane foam concrete lifting is not a new technology. In fact it’s been around for thirty years, but nobody seems to realize just how quick and effective it is in reducing sidewalk trip hazards. In most cases it only takes less than one hour to lift or raise a concrete slab that has settled or sunk causing a trip hazard and allow foot or vehicle traffic back. One hour from trip hazard to traffic again. The cost is generally about the same as removal and replacement but the benefits of eliminating a potential lawsuit immediately can be priceless. Repair is simple. Drill a few small holes. Pump the polyurethane foam under the concrete slab. The foam expands and lifts the walkway or roadway, (it’s already approved by the Dept of Transportation for lifting highways and interstates), and patch the holes when finished. You can walk and/or drive on it immediately. Trip hazard eliminated, lawsuit averted. How much is that worth? A lot less than you’ll spend if it goes the other way….