What’s “Open & Obvious?”

When you slip and fall in a public place, the question of negligence is always raised. The million-dollar question is did someone’s actions fall below a standard of care for your safety? If the answer is “yes,” there is still a defense. It is the “open and obvious” defense, so the rule isn’t exactly (pardon the pun) open and obvious.

If injured and the court considers the conditions “open and obvious,” then the owner is not liable. The rule implies that the open and obvious nature of the dangerous situation serves as a warning to you. Therefore, you should recognize the danger and take steps to avoid it. However, even open and obvious risks can be unreasonably dangerous, and when they are, the inviter has to take special measures to protect you.

Here’s the test for what’s “open and obvious”:  whether “an average user with ordinary intelligence would have been able to discover the danger and the risk presented upon casual inspection.” Wet floor, black ice, potholes… all potentially “open & obvious,” depending on the scenario. Sounds precarious… and not as open and obvious as you may think.

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