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Does a Landowner Have to Warn a Pedestrian Not to Jaywalk at Night?

On Behalf of | Aug 18, 2015 | Firm News

Does a landowner have to warn pedestrians who are crossing the street on adjacent property about open and obvious conditions? In a recent case involving a pedestrian hit while jaywalking, the Montana Supreme Court held that no such duty existed.

A passenger traveling to Arizona exited a bus at the Butte depot. She then jaywalked across a dark four-lane road and was struck by a car. There was a crosswalk a mere 100 feet from where she was injured.

She and her husband sued the county that owned the depot, alleging that the county should have warned them not to cross the road at night. The trial court rejected this argument, ruling in favor of the county without holding a trial.

The passenger and her husband appealed to the Montana Supreme Court. They argued that the county, as the property owner of the bus depot, had a duty to warn them about dangerous conditions. They also argued that the county should have warned them not to cross the street because it was an “obscured danger” that was immediately adjacent to the depot.

The Supreme Court ruled for the county. It held that, generally speaking, landowners only had to warn others about dangerous conditions on their own property. On the matter of whether the street represented an obscured danger, the Court disagreed, noting that the danger of jaywalking across the street at night was apparent and required no warning by the adjacent landowner.

The Court limited its holding to the facts of this particular case. Consequently, landowners can still be held liable in cases involving obscured dangers adjacent to their property. The law that applies to people injured on property owned by others is subject to legal interpretation. If you or a loved one have been injured on property owned by someone else, you should consult with experienced personal injury lawyers who understand premises liability law. To schedule a confidential, one-on-one consultation to discuss your injury and damages, visit our website online or call 406-389-4215.