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Woman Injured on Uneven Pavement Presented Sufficient Evidence to Survive Summary Judgment against Local Government

Earlier this month, a Michigan appellate court issued a written opinion in a government liability case arising from uneven pavement that allegedly caused the plaintiff to trip and injure herself. In the case, Kozak v. City of Lincoln Park, the court determined that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to the court to prevent dismissal at the summary judgment stage.

HighwayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff filed this negligence lawsuit after she tripped and fell while crossing a street in Lincoln Park, Michigan. Evidently, as she was approaching the middle point of the roadway, there were two concrete slabs that were not perfectly lined up, leaving a three-inch elevation differential.

In a pre-trial motions hearing, the defense asked the court to dismiss the case, based on the immunity that government agencies have when carrying out government functions. In response, the plaintiff cited a state statute that specifically exempts the maintenance of a highway from governmental immunity. This “highway exception” requires governments in control of roadways in the jurisdiction to ensure that they are “reasonably safe and convenient for public travel.” The exception also creates a cause of action against the government agency for anyone injured as a result of the government’s failure to comply with the requirements.

In defense of its immunity, the government called the Director of Public Services, who testified that, in his opinion, the roadway was not unsafe. The trial court granted the defense motion and dismissed the case. The plaintiff, unsatisfied with the court’s decision, appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and held that the motion for dismissal should have been denied. The court explained that there was sufficient evidence that the highway exception applied, and the conclusory statement of the Director of Public Services did nothing to refute the plaintiff’s claim. Without some additional evidence, the court determined that the highway exception likely applied and that the lower court should not have dismissed the case. As a result of this decision, the plaintiff will have another opportunity to take her case to trial or engage in settlement negotiations with the government.

Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Georgia slip-and-fall or other premises liability accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Each jurisdiction is different in how it handles claims of immunity by the government. In Georgia, the government is immune from claims based on the “plan or design” of roads and highways, but not necessarily for the condition of the roads. To learn more about these cases, and to discuss your case with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney, call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

The Element of Foreseeability in Georgia Personal Injury Cases, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2016.

Lawsuit Stemming from Unsafe Fence Dismissed Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Submit Necessary Evidence of Negligence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 6, 2016.