For years in West Virginia, Plaintiffs were precluded from bringing premises liability actions if the danger that caused the injury was deemed “open and obvious.” Under the open and obvious common law doctrine, if a plaintiff is injured by a hazard on another’s land that was “open and obvious” such that it was or could have been known to the reasonable plaintiff, then the Plaintiff was barred from recovering any damages from the premises owner or possessor. Under this doctrine, the premises owner owed no duty of care to eliminate the open and obvious hazards. Instead, the owner only had a duty to correct hidden dangers.

Recently, the West Virginia Supreme Court heard the case of Hersh v. E-T- Enterprises. In Hersh, the Plaintiff fell down a staircase in a commercial parking lot that lacked handrails. The Defendant claimed that the missing handrail was an open and obvious danger, while the Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant was negligent because the lack of handrails violated city code. In December 2011, the circuit court granted summary judgment to the defendants, finding no actionable negligence because the defendants had no duty of care toward the plaintiff. The Plaintiff appealed the decision.

After reviewing the facts of the case and the applicable case law, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the circuit court’s decision. In so doing, the Supreme Court abolished the open and obvious doctrine in premises liability negligence actions. The Court ruled that “[i]n the ordinary premises liability case against the owner or possessor of the premises, the finder of fact may consider whether a plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable self-protective care when encountering an open and obvious hazard on the premises. The Plaintiff’s confrontation of an open and obvious hazard is merely an element to be considered by the jury in apportioning the relative fault of the parties.” Syl. Pt. 7, Hersh v. E-T Enterprises, No 12-0106. The Court continued, “[t]he owner or the possessor of premises is not an insurer of the safety of every person present on the premises. If the owner or possessor is not guilty of negligence or willful or wanton misconduct and no nuisance exists, then he or she is not liable for injuries sustained by a person on the premises. Syl. Pt. 8, Id.

With this decision, the West Virginia Supreme Court effectively abolishes the common law “open and obvious” doctrine. However, the Supreme Court maintains that if a danger is open and obvious on a property and an individual becomes injured, then the jury or fact finder should determine how much at fault the property owner is for the injuries and how much at fault the Plaintiff is for his injuries for failing to see an open and obvious danger.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.


  • Being referred to Taylor was the best thing I could have asked for. Taylor and staff are very easy to talk to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.


  • If I ever have to go through it again I would definetly call Taylor right away. The group was so helpful through my situation and handled everything that needed to be done. They made a stressful situation a stress free situation. With Taylor you dont have to worry about one thing. Definietly would recomend to anyone.

    - TAYLOR G.

  • Efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Manchin Injury Law Group, Took care of me when I got into a car accident while I was pregnant. Very scary moment for a first time mom but thankfully Manchin Injury Law Group had my back and treated me great. They made me feel as if I was part of their family. My son is now 7 Months Old and very happy and healthy. I’m very thankful for them for helping me through everything and getting me what we deserved. I 100% would recommend them to anyone. If I ever have an accident again they will be my number 1 phone call!


  • The support given helped me to feel like I was included in my personal injury case every step of the way. I was informed about the entire process throughout. It was amazing how quick the turn around time was and I would definitely recommend Attorney Timothy J. Manchin to anyone!


  • Taylor and Kelly worked hard on my case so I didn’t have to. Thanks guys!


  • Excellent experience dealing with Manchin Injury Law. They were very responsive, professional and easy to talk to. I did my homework before I hired a lawyer after my accident and I am so glad I found Manchin Injury Law Group. If you are injured, give them a call!


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Kelly and Taylor did all the hard work so that I didn’t have to. They both cared about my circumstance and got me a nice settlement. Taylor knows what he is doing and I felt comfortable with my case in his hands.


  • Great lawyers. They helped me with a West Virginia case.


  • Such a great experience with Taylor and this firm. Thankful for their diligence and their work on our case. Thank you to all!


  • Had a easy and smooth experience with a great attorney so when you go there make sure you ask for Taylor.


  • My experience at the Manchin Injury Law Group was extremely positive, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs a compassionate and experienced lawyer on their side.


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