When a bench in a public area gets repainted/lacquered, there’s typically a sign that reads "Wet paint!", which should warn people not to sit on the bench.

A blind person can’t read this sign, sits down, and gets dirty clothes.

Who would have to pay for the damage (dry cleaning / replacement)? The owner of the bench (typically the city), the painting business (for not sufficiently cordoning off the bench), or the blind person?

(I’m primarily interested in Germany, but it would be interesting to know if other jurisdictions handle this differently.)

  • A related non-law question: given that people deprived of a sense often have heightened other senses, I wonder if they might smell the fresh paint/lacquer.
    – Cort Ammon
    Oct 16, 2015 at 6:26
  • @CortAmmon: I can imagine that, but it would of course depend on the individual and the situation (not associating the smell with the bench; being distracted; etc.). -- FWIW, the case described actually happened to someone I know.
    – unor
    Oct 16, 2015 at 6:42

1 Answer 1


This answer most probably applies to the US. But I'm sure German laws should be similar.

Under the legal doctrine of premises liability, establishments are responsible for keeping their property safe from defects and dangerous conditions that could cause injuries. This obligation, or legal duty of care, means they must do everything reasonably possible to create hazard-free environments.

So there must be a warning sign on it, or next to it.

First thing you want to do is to find out who owns it. Then file a complaint to the Attorney General or local municipality.

Worst case scenario, you may file a small case court complaint.

To answer your question, the owner of the bench is liable

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