Injury On Dock Results From Large Spacing Between Planks

dockThis case takes place in Minnesota and involves a patron who sustained an injury while on a dock at a large commercial venue in Miami, FL. The dock had a large gap which allowed for a patron to slide his entire leg through, causing significant injuries to his lower and upper extremities. The operator maintains that the gap in between planks wasn’t too large to violate safety requirements. This particular dock had nearly a foot of space between planks.


Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you design / maintain docks for commercial use?
  • 2. What is the normal range for space between planks on a dock that has high volume foot traffic by people of all ages and is open to the public?

Expert Witness Response E-008635

I am familiar with the safety standards for docks and have led a number of projects that involved these docks. The spacing between planks is usually around 1/8″. 2″-4″ is common and may include a transition strip to cover the gap. With larger docks that distance may increase depending on design and would require a transition strip (metal plate) to prevent a tripping/falling hazard. A close review of the dock in question is required but an exposed gap of nearly 1 ft. immediately raises a red flag. Industry specific standards are in place to prevent an accident of this nature from occurring. An adult leg should not be able to fit into this space.


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