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Valdes v. Santos

A-729-98T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)

SIDEWALKS—Pedestrians are not required to look for, or be on guard for, sidewalk defects; their only duty is to avoid them if observed.

A man tripped and fell on a sidewalk in front of a restaurant. Despite confusing testimony, it was clear that he tripped over one of two pipes in the sidewalk but could not identify which. The Court held that this was not a fatal defect to his claim because both of the pipes were located in front of the restaurant. Owners of commercial premises are responsible for maintaining the abutting sidewalks in a safe and unobstructed condition. “Members of the public are entitled to assume that the sidewalk for its full width, is free from obstructions or pitfalls which would render its use dangerous. So protective is this assumption in law that pedestrians do not have to look for or be on guard for such dangers; their only duty is to avoid them if observed.”


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