How many doors do you walk through a day? You probably walk through a number of exterior doorways with some type of elevated strip at the threshold. 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 will not touch 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. In touring the plant, the employee tripped over 2 elevated thresholds of an exterior door. This case presented several issues which 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.