Trap for the Unwary

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Q: My daughter’s gym class was being covered by a substitute – who had taken the class outside, to a football field that is surrounded by a track.  The substitute gave the students the option of walking around the track or playing touch football.

After walking one lap around the track, my daughter and her friends approached the substitute, “Can we go on the mats at the other end of the football field?”  These mats were for the sport that is appropriately called ‘high jump’.  The substitute said yes, but gave the children no warnings or instructions about these mats. 

As my daughter neared the edge of a mat, attempting to get down, her foot became caught in a tear.  While attempting to untangle her foot, she plunged to the ground.

A: If you have good photographs, then a jury can reasonably infer that the tear in the mat had existed for a sufficient period of time for the school to have discovered and remedied it in the exercise of reasonable care.  The school is deemed to have had ‘notice’.

The school might choose to defend itself by arguing that the tear in the mat was ‘open and obvious’ under the circumstances.  The issue of whether a dangerous condition is open and obvious is fact-specific, and usually a question for a jury.  A condition that is ordinarily apparent to one person – making reasonable use of her senses – may be rendered a ‘trap for the unwary’ where the condition is obscured or the victim is 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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