The “open and obvious doctrine” in personal injury law cases has to do with shielding a defendant from liability for various kinds of incidents if the injury victim (plaintiff) ignored or did not notice an obvious danger. Here, we want to more thoroughly dig into the open and obvious doctrine, including giving some examples so you can see how this affects a personal claim you may be involved in.
What is Open and Obvious in a Personal Injury Claim?
We are most likely going to see the “open and obvious doctrine” crop up when it comes to premises liability claims revolving around personal injuries. The idea here is that a defendant (the person who allegedly caused the premises liability injury) should not be held liable for the victim’s injuries because the danger that existed on the premises was out in the open and clearly obvious to the plaintiff.
Essentially, the open and obvious doctrine shifts the blame onto the person who sustained the injury because they should have recognized the danger and avoided it.
There are various elements that must be present in order for a person to be held responsible for an injury, and the first of these elements is a duty of care. The duty of care for a premises liability claim revolves around the responsibility of property owners to inspect to maintain their premises to keep them free and clear from hazards. The open and obvious doctrine strikes right at the heart of the duty of care element and says that the property owner does not owe a duty to guests or others who have a right to be on the premises for open and obvious hazards in the first place.
How Could This Affect an Injury Claim?
When a person sustains an injury on another individual’s property, it often leads to a premises liability lawsuit. The open and obvious doctrine will likely come up if the hazard was clearly noticeable. However, even if the hazard was not particularly open and obvious, the defendant and their injury lawyer in Southfield could try and use the open and obvious doctrine to help lessen how much compensation they pay.
Michigan operates under a modified comparative negligence system, which means that individuals who are less than 51% responsible for their own injuries can still recover compensation, though at a reduced rate. Any person 51% or more responsible for their own injuries will not be able to recover compensation. If a property owner can shift some or even 51% or more of the blame onto the victim, this could either lessen how much they pay in compensation or eliminate their burden of liability altogether.
Working With a Lawyer
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a property owner in Michigan, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled premises liability attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the incident. The goal is to determine liability and examine whether or not there are any options if the other party is using the open and obvious doctrine against you.
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