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Handicap Ramp is not “Special Use” of the Curb

December 2, 2016

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Although a landowner is responsible for maintaining sidewalks that abut its property, it is not responsible for curbs or ramps unless there is a defect on the curb/ramp that was created by the landowner or due to the landowner’s special use.
In <a href="http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2016/2016_07857.htm"><em>Lebron v. City of New York</em></a>, the plaintiff fell on the curb cut and handicapped ramp area outside Bronx Lebanon Hospital.  The First Department concluded that Bronx Lebanon did not derive a special benefit from the curb cut and handicapped ramp area where plaintiff fell because the area was accessible and used by the general public, and there was no evidence that the curb cut and ramp were installed by Bronx Lebanon or its predecessor. The duty to maintain an area of special use is not dependent on a finding that the landowner actually installed or repaired the area, only that it derived the special benefit.
This decision shows the physical limitations of premises liability and can be beneficial in arguing summary judgment motions in cases where an accident occurs on a defect near, but not on, a property owner’s abutting sidewalk.
Thanks to Lauren Branchini for her contribution to this post.

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