Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising several important issues that commonly arise in Maryland premises liability lawsuits. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed following a defense motion for summary judgment. Finding that the plaintiff could not establish the necessary elements of her case, the court affirmed the dismissal of her case.parking lot

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting the defendant fast-food restaurant with a few family members. The plaintiff’s nephew parked in the restaurant’s parking lot, and the group crossed the drive-thru lane and entered the restaurant.

When it came time to leave, they left the same way they had come in. However, this time, as the plaintiff approached her nephew’s car, she got distracted by one of the cars in the drive-thru lane. As she returned her attention to where she was going, she tripped and fell on a cement parking barrier, resulting in serious injuries. The barrier, which was a few inches high, was the type used to prevent vehicles from parking too far into a parking space.

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hunting blindRecently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the state’s recreational use statute, and whether it applied to bar the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the recreational-use statute did not apply because the defendant’s land was not offered for public use. The case is important for Maryland premises liability plaintiffs in that it discusses a key element of a defendant’s recreational-use defense.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the son of the defendant (Father), and was injured on his father’s land while hunting. Father owned about 40 acres, and allowed his immediate family to use the property to hunt. Father excluded other members of the community, extended family members, and friends of his children from using the land to hunt.

Father had constructed several blinds from which hunters could hide and wait for animals to approach. One day, the plaintiff was hunting on Father’s land when a wooden board came loose from the blind, and the plaintiff fell 16 feet to the ground below. The plaintiff broke both his legs as a result of the fall, and filed a personal injury lawsuit against his father.

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All Maryland land owners have a duty to make sure that they maintain a safe premises for those whom they invite onto their property. If a property owner fails to fix a known hazard, or fails to warn visitors about a dangerous condition of the property, the landowner may be held liable for any injuries through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

Hospital HallwayNot all injuries that occur on another’s land, however, will result in the landowner being held liable; an injury victim must be able to establish the elements of a premises liability lawsuit in order to recover for their injuries. Traditionally, these lawsuits are governed by the common-law principle of negligence, which requires plaintiffs to establish that the landowner violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant’s violation of that duty was the cause of their injuries.

When it comes to defending against Maryland premises liability cases, landowners often make two arguments. First, that they were unaware of the hazard and thus did not have the opportunity to fix it. And second, that the hazard was known to the plaintiff or was so obvious that no duty arose to warn the plaintiff about it. A recent case illustrates the second of these two examples.

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Recently, a federal court of appeals issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit discussing the quantum of evidence a plaintiff must present in order to survive a defense motion for summary judgment. Ultimately, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim because the court found that the gas station where the plaintiff’s injury occurred did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care to warn her of the alleged hazard.

Gas StationThe case is significant for Maryland personal injury victims because it illustrates the importance of providing evidence to establish each element of a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the passenger in her boyfriend’s car, when her boyfriend decided to stop and get gas at the defendant’s gas station. As her boyfriend went to pay for the gas, the plaintiff got out of the car in search of a squeegee to clean the car’s windows.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting an interesting issue that may arise in Maryland premises liability cases. The court was tasked with determining whether a clause in a residential lease agreement that included limiting the statute of limitations was enforceable. Ultimately, the court concluded that the clause was enforceable, and thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case as untimely.

Walking on SidewalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell after stepping on a curb that crumbled under her weight. The curb was located in a common area of the apartment complex where the plaintiff lived.

In the jurisdiction where the case arose, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is two years. However, the residential lease agreement signed by the plaintiff prior to moving into her apartment contained a clause requiring she bring any lawsuit within one year of when the cause of action accrues. Specifically, the clause stated that any case “must be instituted within one year of the date any claim or cause of action arises and that any action filed after one year from such date shall be time barred as a matter of law.”

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When someone is injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident occurring on government property, or any other accident involving a government defendant, the accident victim may be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries. However, when naming a government employee or agency as a defendant, the plaintiff must take additional steps to comply with the relevant laws governing these claims.

Crack in PavemenrIn Maryland, an accident victim naming a government actor as a defendant must provide notice to the Maryland State Treasurer of the accident. This notice must include the names of the people involved, a description of the accident, and the location and date of the accident, as well as other pertinent information. Accident victims have one year from the date of the accident to provide this notice. Otherwise, a court is likely to determine that the case is time-barred.

The notice requirement allows for the government agency to investigate the claim. If a plaintiff’s notice is insufficient, a court may reject the plaintiff’s claim. A recent case illustrates an example of insufficient notice provided by a plaintiff following a slip-and-fall accident.

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Maryland landowners have a duty to those whom they invite onto their property to keep the property safe and to warn visitors of potentially dangerous conditions. If a landowner fails to live up to this duty, and someone is injured as a result, the victim can pursue a claim for compensation against the landowner through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit.

Wet Floor SignHowever, in order to establish liability in a premises liability case, a plaintiff must present evidence to prove each element of the claim. One of these elements is the requirement that the defendant had knowledge, or should have had knowledge, of the hazard causing the victim’s fall. A recent case illustrates how courts interpret this requirement, and also what it means if a plaintiff is unable to present sufficient evidence of a defendant’s knowledge.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a customer at a Walgreen’s store. As the plaintiff approached the cash register, she slipped and fell, landing on her knee. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries and filed a premises liability claim against Walgreen’s.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a plaintiff’s conflicting testimony, requiring the court to determine which version of the plaintiff’s testimony to credit. The case presents a valuable lesson for Maryland slip-and-fall accident plaintiffs in that it illustrates how courts analyze cases in which a party offers two versions of the same event. Ultimately, in this case, the court concluded that the version of the facts that least favored the plaintiff should be credited, resulting in the court granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Wet FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an office manager at a tax-preparation business that was located in a business owned by the defendant. One day, the plaintiff arrived to open the store and went toward the back office to turn on the lights. As the plaintiff approached the rear of the office, she slipped after stepping in a puddle of water that had accumulated on the floor.

When asked in a pre-trial interrogatory, the plaintiff explained that it was not raining on the day of her accident. She also explained that she was aware of previous flooding and, in fact, knew that the office flooded the night before her fall. However, an employee had cleaned up the water by the time the plaintiff had left.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a woman who suffered a brain aneurysm while in her room at the defendant hotel. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant hotel voluntarily assumed a duty of care to assist her but failed to provide the necessary level of assistance. The appellate court determined that the plaintiff did show sufficient evidence to raise an issue of fact that should be resolved by the jury.

Hotel RoomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff planned to stay in the defendant hotel. Before she left, she informed her husband that she would be at the hotel and told him that she would call him when she arrived. The plaintiff arrived at the hotel and checked in to her room but never called her husband.

The plaintiff’s husband called the hotel, looking for his wife. He spoke to the front desk employee and asked if she could call the room to check on the plaintiff. The front desk employee called, but there was no answer. The front desk employee then asked a maintenance worker to conduct a wellness visit to the plaintiff’s room.

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Most personal injury cases involve concepts that the average juror can grasp. For example, when two vehicles are involved in a Maryland car accident, a jury is normally capable of listening to the testimony from each party, weighing the evidence, and coming to a conclusion on their own.

WheelchairMedical malpractice cases, however, often present complex scientific concepts that are beyond the common understanding of most jurors. Because of this, Maryland medical malpractice cases require expert testimony to establish that the defendant doctor’s conduct fell below the generally accepted standard of care. In Maryland, this requirement is embodied in the form of a mandatory pre-suit expert affidavit.

Not all cases that arise in the medical context, however, are considered medical malpractice cases that are subject to the additional requirements. A recent appellate opinion involved a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall claim against a doctor. In that case, the court determined that the plaintiff’s case was not a medical malpractice case.

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