Premises Liability for Open and Obvious Dangers


Premises liability is a legal concept that holds that a property owner or occupier has a duty to keep the property reasonably safe for visitors. If a visitor becomes injured on the property, and the owner was negligent in his maintenance of the property’s safety, he will be at fault and will need to compensate the victim for damages.

Though this seems like a very simple legal concept, it can be rather complicated in court, and every state has its own specific rules regarding how premises liability works. Nevada is no exception. For instance, in some states, property owners have the highest duty to invitees to keep a property reasonably safe. In Nevada, all visitors, except trespassers, are owed a high standard of care.

Open and Obvious Dangers

One area where Nevada law differs from that of other states is the “open and obvious dangers” exception. The “open and obvious dangers” exception is the concept that if a danger was open and obvious, then a property owner is not liable for an injury, because the visitor should have seen the property and exercised a reasonable level of safety for themselves.

In certain states, the “open and obvious dangers” exception can be a strong enough reason for a judge to issue a summary judgment on a personal injury claim, so that it never goes to trial in front of a jury. In these states, victims should avoid bringing this type of case to trial because of its likelihood to be thrown out.

Foster v. Costco

In the last few years, the Nevada Supreme Court has decided that the “open and obvious dangers” exception is not enough on its own to disprove a personal injury claim. In Foster v. Costco, the court held that property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for all visitors, and this duty includes open and obvious dangers. The act of allowing an individual to enter a property that has obvious dangers can itself be a breach of that duty, especially if the visitor isn’t warned about the possible dangers.

The Supreme Court declared that the nature of the danger is just one of many factors that will determine if the owner was negligent or if the visitor was not exercising reasonable care for his own safety. Some of these factors include:
• Presence of distractions that would make a danger less obvious
• Whether the owner would suspect a visitor would proceed despite an obvious danger
• Whether it was reasonable that the owner didn’t remove the obvious danger
• If the victim acted reasonably to protect himself

A Nevada case will not be thrown out just because of the presence of open and obvious dangers, and the jury will weigh the nature of the dangers with all the other facts before determining liability.

These types of cases are getting more and more complicated in Nevada, so it’s important that you have an experienced personal injury lawyer like one of our associates at Bighorn Law. Contact us today, and we will do everything we can to help.

Bighorn Staff

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