Public Sidewalk Held Not to Be the Responsibility of Nearby Businesses

Posted in Negligence,Premises Liability on December 15, 2014

traffic-cone-1173007-mThe doctrine of premises liability provides that the owners and occupiers of land owe a certain duty to those who are on their property. Depending on the relationship between the parties, one of several levels of duties arises. The highest duty owed is to customers of businesses.

However, even this duty has its limits. As a recent case out of Rhode Island points out, the public sidewalk next to a private business is not the responsibility of the business to maintain.

In the recent case Maguire v. City of Providence, the plaintiff was a handicapped woman who was injured while on the sidewalk outside of an Old Navy store. Evidently, the woman’s crutch slipped on a small hole in the sidewalk, and she fell to the ground as a result. A few months later, she filed a lawsuit against Old Navy as well as another business nearby.

Pre-Trial Motion for Summary Judgment

In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, both Old Navy and the restaurant sought dismissal of the case based on the fact that the sidewalk was public property and, as private businesses, they had no obligation to maintain it. The trial court agreed with the defendants and dismissed the case.

On Appeal to the Higher Court

When the case was appealed by the plaintiff to a higher court, that court also agreed that the defendant companies did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care to maintain the public sidewalk outside their stores.

The Court did leave one narrow exception to its holding, and that is when the store owner does something to create the hazard on the public sidewalk. In these cases, the court determined, it may be appropriate for the company to be held liable to at least warn passers-by of the dangerous condition.

In this case, the restaurant used a small portion of the sidewalk during the summer months. However, the plaintiff did not provide the court with sufficient evidence to conclude that the restaurant’s use of this small portion of the sidewalk caused the hole that resulted in the plaintiff’s fall.

If you have been injured in any kind of accident while on the property of another, you may be eligible for a monetary award. Speak to a dedicated Tennessee premises liability attorney to learn more.

Have You Been Injured in a Tennessee Premises Liability Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of serious accident that was due to the negligence of a property owner, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the property owner’s failure to maintain safe premises. Keep in mind, however, that naming the proper parties to the lawsuit is a critical step in the success of any Tennessee personal injury action. The last thing you would want to have happen is for the named defendants to shift the blame onto an un-joined defendant, preventing you from recovering. Call attorney Matt Hardin at 615-200-1111 to set up a free initial consultation to learn more and to go over your case in detail.

See Related Blog Posts:

Bartlett Police Officer May Be Responsible for Fatal Tennessee Accident, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published October 22, 2014.

5 Common Causes of Auto Accidents, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published November 14, 2014.