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Forensic Engineering Experts: Premises Liability

By: Dr. Irving Ojalvo

Tel: (800) 358-9909
Fax: (888) 358-9901
Email: Technology Associates

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Technology AssociatesPlaces of business, residences, parking and recreational areas contain potential accident sources such as slippery floors and stairs, product displays, automatic doors, ledges, railings, elevators, escalators and other hazardous items. To prevent such items from causing injury to the public, premises owners and their agents have a responsibility to recognize unsafe conditions and exercise reasonable care to maintain or make conditions safe, or warn the public of the risks involved. One way this can be accomplished is by maintaining regularly scheduled inspections to check for unsafe conditions and correcting or warning against identified hazards before accidents occur.

Expertise

We have extensive experience in many aspects of premises accidents including:

  • Membership in Human Factors & Ergonomics Society
  • Building codes and safety standards
  • Step, curb and parking lot lighting requirements
  • Elevator maintenance
  • Guardrail heights

Questions Answered

Through scientific analysis, we can help you answer pertinent questions such as:

  • How slippery was the floor?
  • Did the elevator's rapid decent cause the occupant's injuries?
  • Were there proper warnings in place?
  • Was sufficient lighting provided?
  • Did the staircase where a person fell meet building code requirements?

Case Examples

Exterior Staircase Fall Down:

After exiting a public building, an elderly woman descended an outdoor, wide set of stairs. While doing so, she lost her balance, fell, and was seriously injured. Upon inspection, we determined that the rise height of the step where she fell was a half-inch higher than the previous steps. In addition, there was no handrail nearby. Both these items represented significant hazards and building code violations. The defendant settled the lawsuit after receiving a copy of our report.

Falling Lumber Display:

A carpenter was purchasing a 1" x 5" x 10' plank from a large home improvement store. The lumber was displayed in self-service bins. During the selection process, a 12' plank slid off from an adjacent bin and struck the carpenter, injuring him. After we demonstrated that the lumber display was perfectly safe and could only have been in an unsafe position as a result of the carpenter's or a recent prior customer's actions, the case was settled.

Dr. Irving Ojalvo was, at the time of this article's publication, the Chairman of Technology Associates (www.technology-assoc.com), a forensic engineering firm with offices in New York City and Connecticut. The firm's technical personnel, all of whom have advanced degrees, perform accident reconstruction involving issues of biomechanics, mechanical, traffic, and human factors engineering.

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