Hello Dolly

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Q: At the supermarket, I tripped and fell over an empty ‘U-boat’ dolly.  Dollies like this are used by store personnel to move merchandise between the stock room and the merchandise floor.  It had been left unattended in the produce aisle.

Immediately prior to the accident, I had been looking to my right in the direction of my husband.  When he pointed to some onions, I turned to my left to take some, tripped over the dolly, and landed on the floor.  That day, we did not see the dolly prior to the accident.

A: A store owner is charged with the duty of maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe condition for the customers.  To defeat this action, the defendant is required to show that it maintained its premises in a reasonably safe condition and that it did not have notice of or create a dangerous condition that posed a foreseeable risk of injury to persons expected to be there.

Clearly, the store created the condition of which you complain. Nevertheless, the store will argue that the dolly was an open and obvious condition and that its placement did not constitute a tripping hazard.

But even if this dangerous condition was ‘open and obvious’, that merely negates the defendant’s obligation to warn you of the condition.  It does not preclude a finding of liability against a landowner for failure to maintain the property in a safe condition.  Such proof merely is relevant to the issue of your comparative negligence, if any.

In addition, the law is well aware that a hazard that is open and obvious may be rendered a trap for the unwary where the condition is obscured by crowds or the plaintiff’s attention is otherwise distracted.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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