If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident, successfully recovering compensation can provide the relief you need from derived medical debt caused by the incident. It can also help you account for lost wages during your recovery as well as the cost of your ongoing and future medical care.
Plaintiffs who prevail in premises liability claims like slip-and-fall accidents must be prepared to demonstrate several important facts and causations.
In Missouri, these include the following:
- A dangerous condition existed on a property.
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition or should have known about it if they exercised ordinary care.
- The property owner failed to exercise ordinate care to remove, remedy, or warn of the danger.
- The plaintiff’s injuries were a direct result of this negligence.
When property owners get hit with slip-and-fall lawsuits, they can use a number of different defenses to mitigate their responsibility for the accident. Among these defenses is claiming that the hazard was “open and obvious” to reasonable people.
What Does ‘Open & Obvious’ Mean?
Understanding what an open and obvious hazard means is simple but essential. In a nutshell, an open and obvious hazard is a hazard or condition on a property that a reasonable person would understand is dangerous and take action to protect themselves from harm.
For example, if a property owner had an open ditch on their property for a plumbing project and blocked off the area with caution tape and warning signs, that property owner could successfully argue that the ditch was an open and obvious hazard.
An example to the contrary would be if the same property owner covered the ditch with a thin piece of plywood and provided no warning that the ditch existed. A reasonable person might assume that it would be safe to walk over the plywood, unaware that its thinness and the ditch below posed a significant danger to their welfare.
Exceptions to an ‘Open & Obvious’ Defense
Even if a property owner attempts to implement an open and obvious defense against your lawsuit, it doesn’t mean they will be successful.
There are a few exceptions to this defense, one of which would be if the property owner could expect someone to be harmed by the hazard despite knowing about the potential danger. In such a case, they would have the responsibility to address the hazard before it could harm someone and lose the edge that an open and obvious hazard defense might otherwise provide.
Another exception is negligence per se. Essentially, this involves the property owner’s violation of a health and safety law that would confer responsibility upon them regardless of what the injured party did or was aware of.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
While it’s good to understand how a property owner could respond to your personal injury lawsuit, you shouldn’t attempt to argue for yourself. Instead, reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer – like one of ours at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. – who has the experience it takes to successfully advocate for your claim.
Learn more about our legal representation during a consultation. Contact us online to request one!