In a recent case before a Michigan appeals court, the court considered whether Mercedes-Benz could be held liable after the plaintiff fell on a display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Evidently, the plaintiff, an auto dealer from Pennsylvania, attended Mercedes-Benz’s press conference, during which a presenter rode an autonomous vehicle onto the stage.
The next day, the plaintiff went to get a better look at the autonomous vehicle which was on display. While he was looking at the vehicle, he tripped over a plexiglass barricade and landed on his right shoulder. He had surgery on his shoulder shortly before the auto show, and his arm was already in a sling at the time. Two men, whom the plaintiff believed were Mercedes-Benz employees, tried to help him up by pulling on his arm. He eventually left and found out that he had re-torn his right rotator cuff, requiring a second shoulder surgery.
The plaintiff sued Mercedes-Benz, seeking compensation for his injuries. He claimed that the company was negligent in putting up the plexiglass barrier, that it breached a portion of its contract by failing to make the exhibit safe, and that the two men that helped him up were negligent in pulling on the plaintiff’s arm. The defendant argued that the plexiglass barrier was an open and obvious hazard, and therefore, it was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Open and Obvious Dangers
A possessor of property has a duty to invitees to exercise reasonable care to protect them “from an unreasonable risk of harm caused by a dangerous condition on the land.” However, the possessor is not an absolute insurer of an invitee’s safety. A possessor does not have a duty to protect invitees from open and obvious dangers.
In determining whether a danger is open and obvious, courts consider whether an average person would have discovered it “upon casual inspection.” According to Georgia courts, if a danger is “so obvious that the invitee might reasonably be expected to discover [the danger],” the possessor does not have a duty to protect or warn the invitee “unless he should anticipate the harm despite knowledge of it on behalf of the invitee.”
The Court’s Decision
In this case, the court determined that the plexiglass barrier was clearly visible, and the plaintiff admitted that he could have seen it if he had looked down. The court also explained that even if people were distracted by the many vehicles and people at the event, those distractions were not unusual at such an event. Accordingly, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim and dismissed the case against the defendant.
Contact a Detroit Premises Liability Attorney
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation under a premises liability theory, as well as under a general negligence theory. Although property owners often claim that a hazard was open and obvious, this is not always the case. The Neumann Law Group is an experienced Michigan personal injury law firm that has settled millions of dollars in personal injury cases. The Neumann Law Group represents injured individuals and their families in Detroit and throughout Michigan. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-525-NEUMANN or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation.
See Related Posts:
Michigan Train Accident Victim Asks for New Trial, Michigan Injury Lawyer Blog, November 26, 2018.
Michigan Court Discusses the Difference Between Claims of Medical Malpractice and Ordinary Negligence, Michigan Injury Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2018.