As we all know over the past number of years there has been a significant increase in the number of ramps that have been constructed. These have been mandated by both federal and state laws to assist those who have handicaps, either in a wheel chair or otherwise. These are primarily found in the Americans With Disability Act, commonly referred to as ADA, in both federal and state statutes. With this increase in handicap ramps, there has also been an increase in related litigation arising out of falls that have been caused by, or at least contributed by, the presence of these ramps.
Strict building guidelines for Handicap Ramp
The handicap ramp laws, also found in building codes, have very strict guidelines on how these ramps are to be constructed. Too often the construction is not consistent with the applicable law, statute, code, or ordinance. As a result, patrons have fallen and sustained very serious injuries.
Slip, Trip and Fall
When there is a fall at, on, or near a handicap ramp, and it appears that the ramp may have played a role in the fall, it is important that the attorney get all of the details on the ramp that was in fact constructed. It that regard, a “slip and fall” expert needs to be retained early before any changes are made to the ramp. It would not be uncommon for the property owner to alter the ramp after the fall. Photos need to be taken early.
The slip and fall expert will take a “slip test”, and will also measure the size of the ramp, the slope/angles of the ramp, including both the sides of the ramp, and the face of the ramp. These measurements then need to be compared to requirements found in the ADA, and state and local building codes. Often there are inconsistencies, and this can form the basis for a lawsuit.
When there is a violation of a particular law, statute, ordinance and/or building code, the attorney will argue that this constitutes “negligence per se”. When this argument is successful, then the jury is instructed by the court that the defendant is presumed to be negligent, unless the property can prove that non compliance was not possible, and/or that they acted reasonably under the circumstances.