Watch Your Step

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Q: With my grandson, I went to a restaurant for lunch.  The hostess placed us in a booth that was elevated on a platform.  The platform is six inches higher than the floor level.  We reached it by a step.  The two of us stayed in the booth for an hour, eating and talking.  As we left, I had forgotten about the step, and I fell.

A: If you sue, your attorney is likely to allege that the restaurant was negligent in failing to remove an unreasonably dangerous condition, i.e., the raised seating booth, and negligent in seating you in it.  The point will be made that the restaurant was aware of that unsafe condition and breached a duty to warn you.  The restaurant will respond that your injury resulted from a condition that was open and obvious.

The law calls you a “business invitee”.  The restaurant owed you a duty of ordinary care – maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe condition, so that you would be free from dangers that are unreasonable.  A business is not an insurer of your safety, though it should warn customers about dangers that are hidden (which this apparently was not).  The restaurant has no duty to protect you from dangers that are so obvious and apparent that you may reasonably be expected to discover them.

In a slip and fall, the ‘attendant circumstances’ create an issue as to whether the danger was open and obvious.  Attendant circumstances include any distraction that would divert your attention.  In short, attendant circumstances are all facts relating to a situation, such as time, place, surroundings, and other conditions that increase the risk.

Your attorney will argue that the ‘attendant circumstances’ included being in this booth for over an hour and forgetting about the step.  But please understand that cases like this have a very hard time in succeeding.  No one should count on victory.  The best advice is: always try very hard to remember the step that you saw an hour ago.

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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