Levinson Axelrod, P.A. Associate Kathleen M. DiGiovanni recently secured a $410,000 settlement on behalf of a client who was seriously injured after tripping and falling over a wheel-stop located in a parking lot near an entrance of a day care center.
As noted in court documents, the incident occurred in January 2016 when our client, a 58-year-old woman, tripped and fell over a low-lying cement wheel-stop (or parking curb) positioned dangerously in a parking lot directly in front of the entrance to a day care center. She had been walking to her car at the time of the incident, and upon tripping over the wheel-stop, twisted her leg and fell to the ground.
As a result of the fall, our client suffered serious and permanent injuries, including an open femur fracture. Treatment consisted of several surgeries and the placement of a rod and seven screws in her leg.
Upon investigation of the scene, it was determined the wheel-stops had been installed at angles to the parking stalls, and placed in an area of the parking lot where it was foreseeable people would walk. Thus, as alleged in the civil claim, the wheel-stops created an unsafe ground hazard.
In response, the defendant argued the purpose for installing the wheel-stops was to prevent vehicles from driving onto the curb and into the building. However, Kathleen and our team worked with an engineering expert to show the accepted manner in which to protect customers from risks of hazards such as errant vehicles was through the use of pipe-bollards, which are vertical posts that extend perpendicular to the ground, rather than wheel-stops, which are positioned flat on the ground surface.
Additionally, it was shown the business owner had used bollards in one of its other locations, and that applicable codes codified in the ASTM International Standard Practice for Safe Walking Surfaces stated: “wheel-stops shall not be placed in pedestrian walkways or foreseeable pedestrian paths.”
Ultimately, Kathleen was able to negotiate a $410,000 settlement for our client, which will be essential to helping her cover past and future medical expenses, as well as past and future pain and suffering associated with her permanent injuries.
Kathleen M. DiGiovanni is an Associate at Levinson Axelrod who represents clients in premises liability, motor vehicle collision, and other serious injury cases across New Jersey primarily from our Howell and Belford offices. A former NYC Assistant District Attorney, Kathleen is passionate about helping clients obtain justice for those harmed by negligent and wrongful acts.