Companies must ensure speed bumps meet standards or risk liability claims

Published: November 4, 2018

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Speed bumps are a traffic control method that have been around for decades and remain as effective as ever. They can be especially useful for commercial clients who want to manage traffic risks on roads within their complexes. However, insurers warn those speed bumps must be painted properly to reduce liability risk.

A recent case has put a spotlight on the use of speed bumps within organizational roads. Maria Pia Cannito fell and injured herself in 2012 while visiting a shopping place in Toronto owned by Madison Properties Inc. Cannito claimed she tripped over a speed bump in a parking lot within the plaza complex.

She says the speed bump was painted with yellow grid patterns, which according to expert witness Robert Shirer did not meet regulations. Shirer, a forensic engineer, testified on Cannito’s behalf and said the bumps should have been solid yellow to meet guidelines under the American Society for Testing Materials.

Madison Properties used two expert witnesses who contested Shirer. Russell Brownlee and Alexander Nolet said the markings on the speed bumps did indeed comply with ASTM regulations due to the yellow paint/asphalt contrast.

Dismissal

Judge Paul O’Marra of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice agreed with Brownlee and Nolet and sided with Madison Properties, dismissing the case. However, the message is clear, business must ensure speed bumps are painted to standards to reduce their risk of liability.

The plaintiff “can only advance a theory, based on her subjective belief that she tripped either on the speed bump or ‘maybe’ it was because of a ‘broken’ or ‘missing piece’, for which no objective evidence exists proximate to the time of the trip and fall,” O’Marra wrote. “There is no objective evidence presented that connects the plaintiff’s fall with any deficiency of the speed bump markings or its condition at the time of her fall. Speculative theories are insufficient to establish liability.”