If you’re prone to falling, you should be very careful

By The West Virginia Record | Sep 20, 2013

Parents have this trick question they spring on you whenever they can’t easily justify rejecting a request. It never fails.

You ask if you can go to a dance Saturday night, they say no, and you ask why not. They offer some lame excuse and then you, forgetting what happened last time, make the mistake of protesting that “everyone else is going.”

It’s like they’d set a trap and were waiting for you to trip it.

“If everyone was jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge (or the Tunney Hunsacker Bridge, back in the day), would that mean you should do it, too?”

It’s totally unfair. All you’d wanted was to go to a dance – or get a BB gun or wear a bikini – and next thing you know, they’ve got you standing 876 feet above the water, asking to jump.

The comparison is preposterous, but it has some magical power that proves impervious to logic. Eventually, you learn to accept that just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you can, too.

For instance, back in 2009, “everyone” was going up and down the wooden stairs connecting two parking lots at the Second Time Around store on Winchester Ave. in Martinsburg. But that didn’t mean Walter Hersh should do it, too.

Hersh had a history of falling and the stairs had no handrails, but others were using them without incident, so why shouldn’t he?

Sure enough, Hersh fell and hurt himself. He filed suit in Berkeley County Circuit Court, but the judge concluded that the lack of handrails was an open and obvious condition and granted summary judgment to the defendants in December 2011.

Hersh has appealed the decision. Now it’s up to the state Supreme Court to decide if a man prone to falling should be allowed to recover damages for an injury he sustained while doing something others did safely.

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