North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Trip and Fall Case Based on Open and Obvious Danger Doctrine

If you are injured on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages if you can show that the property owner did not exercise appropriate care in preventing your injury. This may sound straightforward, but a premises liability lawsuit can become complex especially if there is a dispute about exactly what happened and whether the injury was foreseeable. As Charlotte premises liability lawyers, Maurer Law is ready to assist you with determining whether you have a right to compensation after suffering an avoidable and unnecessary injury.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case involving an injury that happened in a private residence. The plaintiff in the case entered the home of the defendant for a party. The plaintiff went to a covered patio area and sat down to talk with other guests. Plaintiff was sitting near a step that was roughly six and one-half inches down leading to a lower patio area. The plaintiff got up from her seat after finishing speaking with the guests and fell almost instantly after attempting to walk away from her chair. She landed on her wrist and had to undergo surgery to repair the damage.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit against the defendant alleged that the concrete step was unmarked and that because it was the same color as both patio levels it was difficult to see. She also alleged that the defendant failed to warn guests at the party about the hazardous nature of the step and that the defendant had considered painting the step another color or placing a railing next to it.

In response to the complaint, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff filed an appeal alleging that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the plaintiff was liable for the defendant’s injuries. The appellate court reviewed the evidence in the record and stated that a step is considered an open and obvious danger and that guests are expected to use a reasonable level of caution when going about their daily business.

The facts also showed that the plaintiff was not distracted at the time that she fell, the weather was clear, she was not carrying anything in her hands, and she was not engaged in conversing with another party guest. It also showed that nothing was obstructing her view before she fell. Also, because she had been sitting next to the step for a reasonable amount of time, she had an opportunity to become aware of it. Ultimately, the appellate court upheld summary judgment in the defendant’s favor.

If you were hurt because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you should speak to a knowledgeable premises liability attorney in North Carolina as soon as possible to determine whether you are entitled to compensation. Maurer Law’s diligent team of experienced attorneys provides a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation and answer any questions that you may have. To schedule your appointment call us now at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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