Did you ever consider whether an injured pedestrian can successfully sue a construction contractor who blocks a sidewalk, thereby forcing pedestrians to take another route? Of course, the circumstances of the accident matter. However, if a danger is “open and obvious,” it cannot serve as the basis for a successful lawsuit in Louisiana!
In one of the recent cases involving this question, a pedestrian was walking through the French Quarter when he came upon a construction barrier, a sign telling pedestrians to use the sidewalk across the street, and a large dumpster. The dumpster was located on three parking spaces adjacent to the sidewalk.
As the pedestrian crossed the street, he was hit by a delivery bicyclist working for a local restaurant, who was traveling in the wrong direction on a one-way street. The pedestrian brought a lawsuit against several parties, including the contractor and the restaurant. The contractor asked the trial court to grant it summary judgment (which would allow them out of the case without a trial), but the court denied the motion.
On appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the decision and entered judgment in favor of the contractor. While many issues in lawsuits depend heavily on the facts of the case, the court held that the contractor’s motion for summary judgment should have been granted without determining all the facts in a trial setting.
The court explained that Louisiana law did not usually require someone to protect others from a danger that was “open and obvious to everyone who may potentially encounter it.” The worksite had been well-marked, with a large sign and a barricade barrel with reflective stripes. The dumpster itself was red and was very large, comparable to a large vehicle.
In addition, the pedestrian lived in the area, so he had been aware that the dumpster was there for some time, and he admitted that he knew that some people “would at times walk, jog, or ride bicycles the wrong way down one-way streets.”
Under the circumstances, the court held that the contractor had no duty to warn the pedestrian of the obstruction created by the dumpster.
I personally disagree with this ruling as sometimes, even when open and obvious, certain conditions are “ultra hazardous.” But, this is a great example of how good lawyering can sometimes overcome good common sense.
An experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney can advise you whether the “open and obvious” doctrine might apply to your accident case. If you or a loved one were injured as the result of the conduct of another person or entity, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Wright Pichon & Gray understand the physical and emotional burden that accidents cause, and we will provide a no-obligation review of your case. Contact us today to get started].