Looking at the Bartender

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Q: While entering a second-floor banquet room, I fell on a five-inch step.  I had been looking straight ahead, at the bartender.

A: A condition that is visible to one reasonably using her senses is not inherently dangerous.  However, a step may be dangerous where the conditions create optical confusion – the illusion of a flat surface, visually obscuring the step.

If the concrete surface of a step and the area at the bottom of the step are similar shades of gray, and if a painted line marking the top edge of the transition step is very worn, and if there is no sign warning of the step, then the similarity in surface colors and failure to demarcate the edge of the step may well create the illusion of a level surface.

On the other hand, if reflective strips are set parallel to the step and to each other, evenly spaced, and graduated in size with the longest strip placed on the top edge of the step, and if the strips are bright and the lighting in the hallway and banquet room is ample, and if on the wall near the entrance to the banquet room and visible to anyone walking down the hallway there is placed a sign that reads ‘step down’ with an arrow pointing diagonally downward toward the step – yours is a losing case.

Although there are laws that require a ramp and handrail for certain stairways and passages, it does not sound like they apply.  Nevertheless, be sure to take all these facts to an attorney.

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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