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Photographic Evidence of Uneven Sidewalk Taken 30 Days after Injury Deemed Insufficient to Raise Question of Liability

Earlier this month in Michigan, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case, answering the question of whether photographic evidence of an uneven sidewalk taken 30 days after the injury was sufficient to raise a question regarding the defendant’s liability. In the case, Bernardoni v. City of Saginaw, the court ultimately concluded that the evidence submitted by the plaintiff was not sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense, and it affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Feet on PavementThe Facts of the Case

Ms. Bernardoni was injured when she fell after tripping on two uneven slabs on concrete on a sidewalk in Saginaw, Michigan. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the City, alleging that the City was negligent in maintaining the sidewalk and that the City’s negligence contributed to her injury. Along with her claim, she submitted a sworn affidavit stating that it was her belief – although she was not certain – that the dangerous condition existed for at least 30 days prior to her fall. She also provided the court with pictures of the uneven sidewalk that were taken by her husband about 30 days after her fall.

The City responded with a request for the court to dismiss the case under the theory of governmental immunity. The City argued that, in general, government organizations are immune from lawsuits arising from potentially negligent acts made in furtherance of government business. Furthermore, the specific facts of this case did not give rise to the “highway exception” to government immunity.

Bernardoni argued that this was a classic case of the highway exception, whereby a government entity can be held liable when it fails to keep a road or highway in safe condition for travelers. In order for the highway exception to apply, the plaintiff must show that the dangerous condition was in existence and not repaired for the 30 days prior to the accident.

The court ultimately decided the case against Bernardoni because her evidence was not sufficient to meet her burden. Specifically, there was no indication that the sidewalk was in disrepair 30 days prior to the accident. The court could not rely on Bernardoni’s statement that she “thought” that the sidewalk was in the same condition 30 days before her fall because she was not certain. Thus, there was no evidence of when the dangerous condition arose.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on another party’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Landowners all owe a duty to those whom they allow to use their land, and a failure to keep a property safe can give rise to financial responsibility. Call the skilled Georgia premises liability attorneys at Miller Legal Services at 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation today to discuss your case.

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.