What is the “open and obvious” defense in premises liability cases?

sidewalk curb dangerous hazard

In California, property owners must prevent unreasonable risk of harm to people visiting their premises by fixing unsafe property conditions or providing adequate warnings about potentially dangerous scenarios. Serious accidents and injuries may occur if the appropriate parties fail to uphold their legal obligation to maintain a safe environment. In such cases, injured parties have the right to pursue legal action for their incurred damages. However, the at-fault party may sometimes use the “open and obvious” defense to limit liability. Please continue reading to learn how this defense can impact your case and how a trusted Santa Clara County Slip and Fall Accident Attorney can help you fight for the just compensation you need to get back on your feet again.

What are “open and obvious” hazards in slip and fall cases?

Although property owners owe their visitors a duty of care, meaning they must keep reasonably safe premises by repairing dangerous conditions or posting sufficient warnings of a potentially dangerous situation, there are exceptions to their liability for an injury. In a slip and fall case, the property owner may assert that they should not be held accountable for injuries sustained on their property as the hazardous condition that caused the accident was so open and obvious that the injured party should have been aware of it and avoided it. This is known as the “open and obvious” defense. Essentially, when there is a dangerous condition, visitors are expected to exercise discretion when encountering an obvious danger in plain sight.

Is California a comparative negligence state?

Fortunately, this defense is not absolute, meaning injured parties still have an opportunity to prove that there was greater negligence on the part of the property owner. California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means injured parties can collect damages even if they’re 99% at fault for the cause of an accident. Therefore, even if an injured party is at fault for not avoiding an open and obvious hazard, they may still be entitled to compensation. However, the amount an injured party can recover for damages is based on their degree of fault for an accident.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to a slip and fall accident due to someone else’s negligence, please don’t hesitate to contact a skilled Santa Clara County slip and fall accident lawyer who can help you fight for your rightful compensation. At the Law Offices of Brian J. O’Grady, we are prepared to help you understand your legal rights and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.