A woman was walking along a sidewalk on Leonard Street in Brooklyn. She passed a house with a garage that abutted a sidewalk. The position of the garage door indicated that the residents of the house passed the sidewalk when they bring their cars to and from the garage.
A New York Injury Lawyer said as the woman was walking on the sidewalk in front of the garage door, she slipped on ice and snow that had not been removed. Her weight was on her right foot when she suffered the slip and fall. She sustained personal injury and commenced a suit in damages against the owner of the property that abutted the sidewalk.
After discovery proceedings and before trial, the property owner moved for a summary judgment, asking that the complaint be dismissed for the failure of the plaintiff to show that there are genuine issues of fact that must be heard by a jury.
The defendants offered preliminary evidence that they cleared or attempted to clear the snow from the sidewalk in front of their garage to prevent the slip and fall. They did not create or worsen what could have been a dangerous or hazardous condition on the sidewalk.
The plaintiff naturally opposed the motion for summary judgment. She claimed that the homeowner made special use of the sidewalk as access to their driveway and garage. She also contended that the use of the homeowner of the sidewalk caused or created the icy condition on the sidewalk and caused the woman to slip and fall. She also claimed that dangerous condition is that the ice covered the cracked surface of the sidewalk that had a hole in it.
The only question before the court was whether or not there are material issues of fact that still remain and that can only be tried by a jury. A Staten Island Personal Injury Lawyer said the Court ruled that the homeowner was entitled to the summary judgment they moved for as there are no more issues of fact that must be tried.
The Court first of all stated that there is no duty on the part of the homeowner to keep the public sidewalk in front of his house in a safe or passable condition. The reason for this rule is that the homeowner does not own or control the public sidewalk. The Court further stated that there is however a legal duty imposed upon landowners whose properties abut a sidewalk to refrain from acting negligently and creating dangerous conditions or obstacles. If the homeowner takes it upon himself to repair the sidewalk that abuts his property, he may be liable for injury caused to others by the shoddy repair job. When the landowner benefits from a use of the sidewalk, a legal duty also arises for the homeowner to maintain the sidewalk with due care for the safety of passersby.
There is no allegation or evidence that the homeowner in this case acted negligently in such a way as to have created a dangerous condition or obstacles on the sidewalk. There is no allegation or evidence that the homeowner has derived a benefit from the sidewalk or has undertaken the duty to repair the sidewalk for the purpose of benefiting from the sidewalk. There is no shoe showing that the homeowner has constructed a special feature on the sidewalk although they may have regularly used it to get into and out of their garage.
There was no allegation or showing that the homeowner caused the ice to form on the sidewalk. A Queens Personal Injury Lawyer said from all indications, the ice was a natural occurrence. The woman who sustained injury was unable to show that the homeowner ever cleared the sidewalk or attempt to clear it thereby causing ice or snow to accumulate on the sidewalk.
The motion for summary judgment in favor of the homeowner is granted and the complaint is dismissed.
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