Distraction Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Distraction doctrine refers to a rule that plaintiff cannot be guilty of contributory negligence if the plaintiff's attention was diverted from a known danger by a sufficient cause.

The distraction doctrine holds that one is not bound to the same degree of care in discovering or apprehending danger in moments of stress or excitement or when the attention has been necessarily diverted. Application of the doctrine has the effect of excusing an invitee from exercising the otherwise required degree of care because of the circumstances created by the purported distraction. This is particularly true where the distraction is placed there by the defendant or where the defendant in the exercise of ordinary care should have anticipated that the distraction would occur. Thus, when an invitee asserts that the hazard was not seen before the injury because the invitee's attention was diverted, the examination of whether the invitee exercised ordinary care for personal safety must take into account the circumstances surrounding the presence of the diversion. [Robinson v. Kroger Co., 493 S.E.2d 403 (Ga. 1997)]