Comparative negligence, open-and-obvious hazards, and icy conditions in Kentucky in light of Carter v. Bullitt Host, LLC, 471 S.W.3d 288 (Ky. 2015), 2015 Ky. LEXIS 1854 (October 15, 2015). Snow and ice tend to make walking more difficult. Snow and ice tend to make slipping and falling much easier. Much like the changing of the weather, the law has changed in Kentucky. No more will an “open-and-obvious condition” – say, an icy patch of sidewalk outside of a business, such as a restaurant or hotel – allow that business to entirely blame a wrongly-injured plaintiff for his or her own injuries. The Supreme Court of Kentucky recently held that comparative negligence, which has long been the law in the Commonwealth, now applies to a person who falls on snow and ice that should have been seen or was known to be there. Comparative fault (or comparative negligence) requires that the percentage of fault be allocated between each party: plaintiff and defendant. That is, if an injured plaintiff is partly to blame for his or her injuries, then his or her own fault may reduce any judgment accordingly. However, fault on the plaintiff’s part no longer completely eliminates his or her right to recover when facing open-and-obvious, hazardous conditions, whether inside or outside. Under comparative fault, every single person has a duty of ordinary care in light of the situation at hand, and that duty applies equally to plaintiffs and defendants. It all boils down to a question of reasonableness. How reasonable was the plaintiff’s conduct? And how reasonable was the defendant’s conduct? In summary, even if an injured plaintiff is negligent and contributes to his or her own injuries, under Kentucky’s comparative fault that injured plaintiff has the right to determine if any of the defendant’s negligence contributed to those injuries. Then, a jury may apportion whose fault is whose. Loss is divided according to the parties’ respective share of fault. If you need a personal injury attorney in Kentucky, contact Edwards & Kautz at 866-795-5087 to schedule a free legal consultation with their experienced personal injury attorneys.
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