Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Static Condition Definition:

A condition that does not change and is dangerous only if someone fails to see it and walks into it.

Related Terms: Occupiers' Liability, Res Ipsa Loquitur

A frequent defence of those facing liability for occupier's liability; the assertion that an alleged dangerous condition was static.

Lenalda Bullard tripped on a hotel walkway and sued the hotel for her personal injuries. The Marriot Hotel denied liability claiming static condition of that particular segment of their walkway. In agreeing with Ms Bullard, Justice Johnson of the Court of Appeals of Georgia wrote:

"Marriott also argues that any hazard presented by the walkway was a static defect about which Bullard had knowledge. A static condition is one that does not change and is dangerous only if someone fails to see it and walks into it. A person is presumed to have knowledge of such a defect when that person has successfully negotiated the alleged dangerous condition on a previous occasion. Marriott argues — and the trial court found — that because Bullard routinely walked on the brick pathway, she presumably knew about the alleged hazard.

"We disagree. Even if we assume, without deciding, that the hazard here was static, questions of fact remain regarding Bullard's knowledge. Notably, it is a plaintiff's knowledge of the specific hazard which precipitates the slip and fall which is determinative, not merely her knowledge of the generally prevailing hazardous conditions or of the hazardous conditions which plaintiff observes and avoids."

Hatti Thomas stepped into a pothole in the parking lot of the Baptist Convention Center in Toccoa, Georgia. She, too, sued for her personal injuries and the convention center defended itself claiming a static condition. The claim was dismissed at trial but reversed on appeal, with Justice Eldridge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia using these words to do so:

"A static condition is one that does not change and is dangerous only if someone fails to see it and walks into it. If nothing obstructs the invitee's ability to see the static condition, the proprietor may safely assume that the invitee will see it and will realize any associated risks."

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