In any trip-and-fall, slip-and-fall, or other premises liability case, an important element of the case may involve the extent to which the hazard was “open and obvious.” A recent case originating in the Smoky Mountains highlights the extent to which a hazard’s open and obvious status does or does not undermine a plaintiff’s case. A hazard’s being open and obvious may raise the likelihood that an injured plaintiff was negligent in failing to avoid it, but it does not automatically immunize a defendant from liability. Even if your fall hazard was open and obvious, you may still, with the help of an experienced Tennessee premises liability attorney, be able to succeed and obtain a damages award in your case.
That recent Smoky Mountains case involved the parking area adjoining a vacation cabin in Pigeon Forge. The cabin’s parking area was in two adjacent sections. The left side was partially raised to maintain a flat surface. The right side sloped downward from the street, consistent with the hill upon which the cabin was situated. There was a railing around the left section, but it did not go all the way to the street, leaving an area of uneven surface not guarded by any railing.
One night while walking around her rental vehicle, the plaintiff accidentally stepped off that drop-off and fell, allegedly injuring her right arm in the process. The woman and her husband sued, arguing that the state of the split-level parking lot was a hazardous condition and that the owners and managers of the property were negligent in their maintenance of the parking area.