Obviousness of the Hazard in Virginia Premises Liability Cases

In premises liability claims, the plaintiff must present evidence of each element in order for a judge to submit the case to a jury. If a plaintiff fails to establish each element of his claim, the judge will grant a defense motion for summary judgment, if made.

One element that is frequently contested in premises liability cases is the obviousness of the hazard. Obviousness is less an element of a claim than it is a defense. Essentially, if a defendant in a premises liability case can establish that the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was open and obvious, the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed.

A recent case illustrates how a plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard that caused his injuries can defeat the plaintiff’s claim.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a handyman who had over 18 years of experience. He agreed to help the defendant put in a bathroom in the defendant’s basement. As a part of the job, the plaintiff was asked to remove a mirror that had been glued to three wooden boards along the unfinished framing of the basement wall.

As the plaintiff was removing the mirror, the mirror cracked and broke into several sharp pieces. As the plaintiff was removing the broken glass from the basement, a piece of the glass cut his wrist, causing significant bleeding and severing the ligaments in his wrist.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that the plaintiff’s negligence resulted in his injuries. In response, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff was aware of the dangers involved with moving shards of glass and that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed as a result.

The court agreed with the defendant, finding that, given the obviousness of the harm and the plaintiff’s experience as a handyman, he was aware of the dangers involved when he agreed to help the defendant. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant had superior knowledge of the hazard because he was the one who hung the mirror. In doing so, the court explained that the hazard was the glass when it broke, rather than the mirror as a whole or the manner in which it was hung.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident on property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Virginia personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Charles B. Roberts have extensive experience handling all types of Virginia injury claims, including premises liability claims. Attorney Charles B. Roberts and his team of Virginia injury attorneys are known for their dedication to each of their clients, as well as their zealous advocacy. To learn more about how Attorney Charles B. Roberts can help you with your case, call 702-491-7070 to set up a free consultation. Calling is free, and we will not charge you for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

See More Blog Posts:

What Injury Victims Need to Know About Virginia’s Recreational Use Statute, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 20, 2018.

Court Applies the “Continuing Storm Doctrine,” Dismissing Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 1, 2018.