What does “Open and Obvious” mean in Virginia Slip and Fall Cases (Patterson v. Kroger)

Virginia is notoriously difficult for slip and fall victims. An argument often used by insurance companies is that a victim should be precluded from recovery because he/she fell over or on a danger that was open and obvious.  

In Patterson v. Kroger, the Court said that the water upon which the victim fell in Kroger's restroom was not clearly open and obvious. The victim fell when entering the restroom where an employee was mopping the floor. At the time of the fall, the employee had a placed a “wet floor” sign in the bathroom, but failed to place it outside the bathroom's entrance. 

The Court in Patterson distinguished this case from a previous case, Newcomb v. Food Lion, where the Court said the victim fell on a wet floor in the bathroom that was open and obvious. On the date of the fall in Newcomb, it was raining outside. Therefore, customers would have been well aware of possible wet floors. In Patterson, however, the weather was clear and not raining. The victim had no reason to expect the bathroom floor to be wet. 

As you can see from this type of litigation, the courts will look very closely at the details of each slip and fall case. If the facts don’t fit, they will dismiss the case.

If you have any questions about Virginia slip and fall law, you need to speak to an experienced attorney. Call BenGlassLaw at (703)584-7277 for useful information or submit your question through our useful webform.

James S. Abrenio
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Focusing on criminal, traffic defense and personal injury cases
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