Louisiana Court of Appeal Awards Damages to Parents in High School Student’s Sidewalk Slip-and-Fall Case

Achieving successful results in premises liability cases (like slip-and-fall cases and trip-and-fall cases) requires several things in Louisiana. You have to have proof that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard, and you may have to work to defeat an argument that the hazard was too “open and obvious” to create liability and allow you to recover compensation. In all of these areas, it helps to have a detailed understanding not only of the facts of your situation but of the law as well. This is why it pays to make sure you have legal representation from an experienced injury attorney.

A recent real-world example of a successful Louisiana premises liability lawsuit was the case of Cora, a high school student. Cora allegedly tripped as a result of a flaw in the sidewalk that ran in front of her school. According to the student, the sidewalk shifted beneath her, which caused her to lose her balance and fall. The injury caused the student to experience pain in her right foot, leg, knee, and hip. The student’s parent sued on her behalf.

In premises liability cases like this, many property owners will use as their defense against liability the argument that the hazard that caused the injured person to trip or slip was “open and obvious.” If a hazardous condition is open and obvious, the person using that property is responsible for protecting herself from it, and the property owner cannot be liable for injuries that take place.

The law also requires the injured person to prove that the person or entity that owns or controls the property either knew or should have known about the hazard in order to recover compensation. The judge in this case concluded that the parents fell short on this notice requirement.

The court of appeal, however, ruled that the parents’ case was sufficient to show that the city was liable and owed compensation. As noted in the previous paragraph, the law requires proof that the city either knew or should have known about the problem. The parents had evidence that the city admitted having actual knowledge of the poor condition of the sidewalk in front of the high school. City officials compiled a list of the worst problem areas within the city’s sidewalks in order to target those areas for immediate repair with grant money. The sidewalk in front of the high school was on the areas targeted for repair that same year. This was definitely adequate proof that the city actually knew, as required by the law.

The court also sided with the parents and the evidence they presented on the “open and obvious” issue. The city had a great deal of evidence about missing pieces of concrete and how obvious they were, but this wasn’t the thrust of this case. The student’s testimony was that she fell because she stepped on a piece of concrete that shifted. The city’s evidence was lacking with regard to loose pieces of concrete in front of the school and how open and obvious they were or were not. As the court explained in ruling for the injured girl’s parents, “a defect in the sidewalk that does not manifest itself until the pedestrian actually steps on the defective spot cannot be held to be open, obvious, or apparent.”

The result of this case highlights how many varied arguments and pieces of evidence can come together to make for a successful premises liability action. If you’ve been hurt while on the property of another person or entity, you may be entitled to compensation. Talk to the skilled Louisiana premises liability attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm, where we have spent many years providing our clients with creative and intelligent techniques for helping them pursue the recovery they need.

For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.

More Blog Posts:

When Good Times Go Bad: Houma Krewe Faces Louisiana Lawsuit for Injuries Suffered at a Party Hosted by the Club, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Feb. 14, 2018

Court of Appeal Gives Louisiana Man Renewed Opportunity to Pursue Slip-and-Fall Case, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, June 21, 2017

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