The surrounding walking surfaces eluded the plaintiff’s perceptive view because her field of view was transfixed on the approaching general area. The 3/4 inch protruding slab edge restricted the natural movement of the plaintiff’s foot and created an upset in the plaintiff’s natural stride. She tripped, stumbled, and fell.
I reviewed the record of the case, investigated the property and took photographs 30 months after the accident. The cracks in the sidewalk were caused by three contributing factors:
1. Heavy construction vehicles driven over the sidewalk during the prior owners’ construction of an addition more than 20 years before the fall. The remodeling and addition necessitated the use of a backhoe. A backhoe and other large construction vehicles must have traversed the curb and sidewalk onto the grassy area on that side of the home in order to gain access to the work site. This is evidenced by the fact that this was the shortest route to the construction site, the sidewalk cracks line up with curb cracks and the construction site, and there are no other sidewalk or curb cracks in front of defendants’ property.
2. Commercial vehicles driven over the sidewalk during the current owners’ replacement of the retaining wall. The stone blocks that replaced the railroad ties were likely delivered by a commercial vehicle and kept in a staging area on the grassy right side of the property. A commercial vehicle would have driven over the sidewalk and curb to deliver the stones to that grassy area, thus damaging the sidewalk.
3. Water flow from the drainage pipes seeping into the substrata of the sidewalk. Defendants caused or exacerbated the sidewalk cracks by increasing the water flowing from the drainage outlets in the retaining wall and onto the sidewalk. The defendants modified the existing drainage system by replacing the single drainage outlet with a double outlet that extended four inches further out of the retaining wall. The two drain pipes caused a double-barrel shotgun blast of water onto the walkway areas.
These three factors caused the settling and cracking of the sidewalk and the protrusions that caused plaintiff to trip. Defendants were negligent in causing the deterioration of the sidewalk and failing to maintain the sidewalk, and their negligence was the sole cause of plaintiff’s injuries.
The expert is a professional engineer.