Most premises liability issues affect pedestrians. Three factors - human, environmental and configuration - affect how pedestrians use the built environment. Many climatic and human factors cannot be controlled, but are statistically predictable.  Most configuration factors can be controlled.  Too often, they’re not controlled. If configuration is a significant causal factor, then design, construction and management must be analyzed to determine negligence. Key questions we answer are what is foreseeable and who could foresee it. Effective accident reconstruction requires a reliable scientific approach.

  • parking lots
  • wheelchair ramps
  • bicycles
  • speed bumps
  • cart corrals
  • door swings
  • speed
  • vision
  • bollards
  • snow
  • surface deterioration
  • puddles
  • local laws
  • drainage
  • mindfulness
  • parking lots
  • driver vision
  • memory
  • thresholds
  • obvious
  • civic twilight
  • weather
  • directionality
  • peripheral vision
  • sidewalk width
  • parking lots
  • view sheds
  • steps and stairs
  • hidden holes
  • curbs
  • uneven risers
  • ramps
  • housekeeping
  • signage
  • parking lots
  • vehicle design and size
  • floor mats
  • snowmelt

  • Slip, trip and fall injuries

    There’s a big difference between watching your step and watching where you’re going. Injuries from slipping have abated from the increased attention to improving slip resistance on many surfaces, but injuries from tripping and misperceiving variations in walking surfaces are increasing. Part of this is due to an aging population and part to poor maintenance, construction and design. We have addressed many incidents for both plaintiffs and defendants involving pedestrians falling and whether conditions could be perceived.

  • A woman falls down steps that look like a ramp

    At about 5pm on sunny day in mid-May, a woman and her husband in their 60s walked out of a suburban restaurant heading to their car in the parking lot. She saw a concrete ramp and headed to her car but she fell and suffered foot, leg and ankle injuries. What appeared to be a ramp was actually three stair steps with three-foot deep treads between the risers.

    For about four months on sunny days of the year, shadows cast by the building caused the treads to appear to be a continuous, ramp-like surface. And there were no handrails at this area. The design did not address known climatic conditions of the area and failed to specify handrails and provide other useful cues.

  • Many parking lots are functionally obsolete and dangerous

    We have consulted and testified about many parking lots. A Ford 150 hit and killed a three and one-half year old boy as he crossed a parking lot drive on the way into a well-known children’s entertainment venue. Security camera files showed the truck was traveling no more than 15 mph. An eight-figure wrongful death suit against the property owner, manager and tenant resulted.

    Our research and analysis indicated the venue could be an attractive nuisance and showed the parking lot, among other problems, had not a single warning or regulatory sign addressing vehicle movement. We used an acceptable risk model to analyze probability of such an incident. The case settled two days before trial. After the settlement, all the warning indicators we said should have been there were installed.

    A hospital parking lot guided pedestrians through it (dashed line on the right) to a location where a short, squat column partially blocked both pedestrian and driver vision as they changed direction. The result was a crushed foot, a suit and a settlement just after I testified. The days before the trial, the pedestrian route was changed to where my report said was appropriate.

    In another parking lot, a driver in a large pickup truck quickly turned left into the lane to the street in front of a line of shops in an L-shaped center as shoppers were crossing the lane returning to their cars on his right. He didn’t see a woman in her 60s and hit and killed her. He was not ticketed and police said the woman ignored the pedestrian crossing markers 45 feet away and was jaywalking. We showed that the flawed design of the parking lot encouraged jaywalking and funneled vehicles and pedestrians to the route where the woman was killed.