We all walk through a number of exterior doorways with some type of elevated strip at the threshold every day. Sometimes there are even small-to-full size steps at the threshold. These conditions can cause people to fall and severely injure themselves. Many lawyers choose not to take these cases because of the difficulties. We beg to differ.
In Bailey-Lore v. Dover Power & Light, Case No. 2016 CT 07 0490 (C.P. Tuscarawas 2016), an employee of a coal contractor visited a coal plant. While touring the plant, the employee tripped over 2 elevated thresholds of an exterior door. This case presented several issues that are common hazards.
First, how high does the threshold have to be? Ohio follows a 2-inch rule, which presumes that a height difference over 2 inches is hazardous. However, conditions less than 2 inches may also be hazardous depending upon the “attendant circumstances.” In this case, the extreme lighting contrast between the dark exterior and the bright sunny outdoors was a factor. The shadows cast over the threshold were another factor. The similarity in color between the elevated threshold and the surrounding area was a third factor.
Does a person have to be looking down at all times? Although courts have held that pedestrians must take reasonable precautions under the circumstances, there is no duty to be looking down at all times.
Based upon the condition, the court held that a jury trial was in order and the case could not be resolved on a Motion for Summary Judgment. The case settled for six figures at mediation.
If you fall walking through a doorway or on the stairs, take pictures of the area where you fell. Then contact an experienced slip and fall attorney who can review your case and determine if the steps were within safety requirements.