Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a slip-and-fall case illustrating several important principles relevant to Maryland personal injury cases. The case presented the court with an opportunity to discuss what a plaintiff must establish in order to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense. Here, the court held that since the plaintiff did not present any evidence that the defendant knew or should have known about the black ice that caused the plaintiff’s fall, summary judgment in favor of the defense was appropriate.

Icy RoadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured as he got out of his car on the top level of a parking garage at the defendant hospital. The testimony at trial established that it had snowed several days that week and that there was visible ice and snow underneath some of the cars. However, the ice that caused the plaintiff’s fall was not visible. After his fall, hospital employees came to the plaintiff’s aid. One of the employees testified that she too had difficulty keeping her footing while on the icy pavement.

The hospital presented evidence that a security guard patrolled the area approximately every two hours. When the security officer noticed a snow or ice hazard, he was to call the hospital’s engineering department and remain on scene until an engineer arrived to clear the hazard. Evidence was presented that the area was patrolled that day about an hour and half before the plaintiff’s fall. Additionally, as per hospital policy, salt had been spread across the upper level of the parking garage to melt any ice that might have been present.

Continue Reading

Most Maryland personal injury lawsuits are resolved through pre-trial settlement negotiations, rather than through a trial. The reasons why parties enter into settlement agreements vary, but most often they include a desire for certainty in the case’s outcome. Indeed, many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs may wish to accept a negotiated settlement amount rather than risk taking the case to trial and receiving nothing. Defendants in personal injury cases may also be interested in agreeing to settle for a known amount, rather than risking a much larger jury verdict should the plaintiff succeed in proving their case at trial.

Manhole CoversSettlement agreements are essentially contracts whereby the plaintiff agrees to withdraw the case against the defendant, and the defendant agrees to compensate the plaintiff for doing so. Since settlement agreements free up valuable judicial resources, courts generally favor settlement agreements and permit parties to openly negotiate the terms of an agreement. For example, a plaintiff may choose to settle with one of the named defendants but proceed toward trial against another defendant.

When it comes to excusing parties from a Maryland personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs should take care to ensure that the party that is being excused is not necessary for some other reason. A recent opinion issued by a Mississippi appellate court illustrates the difficulties one plaintiff had establishing her case against a utility commission after settling a case against two other named defendants.

Continue Reading

Maryland state and local governments face a significant number of Maryland accident lawsuits each year. In many cases, the government named as a defendant may concede liability and offer a settlement agreement to an accident victim in return for the victim agreeing not to pursue the case in court. However, before a government entity can make the determination of whether the accident victim’s case is meritorious, the government entity must first learn about the plaintiff’s injury.

Manhole CoverTo help expedite the process, anyone considering filing a personal injury case against a Maryland government entity must first file notice to that entity, providing certain information, including the nature of their injury, where it occurred, and what the accident victim is asking to receive. An accident victim who fails to file this pre-lawsuit notice, or files a notice that does not comply with the requirements, risks the early dismissal of their case. This is what happened in a recent premises liability case out of Georgia.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when he stepped in a manhole that was not covered. The plaintiff initially reported the open manhole to the police department and provided the address of 425 Chappell Road, which was at the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson Turner Road.

Continue Reading

Last month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a tenant of an apartment complex who slipped and fell on a patch of black ice in the complex parking lot. At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case against the complex’s management company, before the case was presented to the jury, the trial judge granted the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. The appellate court was tasked with determining whether the trial judge was proper to decide the case as a matter of law rather than submit the case to a jury for a factual resolution of the plaintiff’s claim.

Winter RoadThe Appellate Court’s Decision

In the above case, the appellate court determined that the lower court was improper to decide the case as a matter of law. The court explained that there was evidence presented by the plaintiff indicating that the defendant may have been negligent. Specifically, the plaintiff testified that the defendant would plow any fallen snow in the parking lot to an area that was slightly above the level of the parking lot. Thus, when the snow melted, water would run onto the parking lot, where it could later re-freeze, creating a hazard. Indeed, the plaintiff also presented evidence, through his wife’s testimony, that he had complained about these ice patches on numerous occasions.

Judgment as a Matter of Law in Maryland Courts

In Maryland personal injury cases, it is the judge’s job to rule on all legal issues. For example, a judge will often determine which evidence the jury is able to consider and instruct the jury on the law that pertains to the case. The jury’s job is to then apply the law as explained by the judge to the facts of the case, resolving any factual disputes.

Continue Reading

In personal injury trials, the judge acts as the gatekeeper to determine which evidence the jury should hear. In making these evidentiary decisions, the judge must apply the appropriate rule of evidence. While the rules of evidence present a good guideline to assist a judge in making these decisions, issues often arise in a legal “gray area,” requiring the judge to apply the law to the facts of the case and come up with a reasoned decision.

Cracked PavementMaryland Rule of Evidence 5-407 deals with subsequent remedial measures. A subsequent remedial measure is an action taken after an injury occurred, usually by a defendant, to remedy the hazard that allegedly caused the plaintiff’s injury. Generally speaking, evidence that a party took remedial action after an injury occurred cannot be used against that party. This encourages defendants who are facing allegations of negligence to fix potential hazards without fear of conceding liability in the pending lawsuit.

With that said, Rule 5-407 contains several exceptions. One exception is that evidence of a subsequent remedial measure may be introduced for purposes other than to show liability. A recent case illustrates how one plaintiff was able to introduce evidence of a subsequent remedial measure.

Continue Reading

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who was injured when she slipped and fell after stepping in a puddle on a train platform. The appellate court ultimately affirmed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, finding that the accumulated rainwater was not a dangerous condition as defined under the law.

Train PlatformThe Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was attempting to catch a train that was operated by the defendant transportation agency. As the plaintiff approached the train, she walked on a covered concrete platform. Since it had been raining earlier that day, there was a puddle near the door to the platform.

The plaintiff told the court that she saw the puddle but did not think it would be slippery. However, as she stepped in it, she slipped and fell. The plaintiff was injured as a result and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the transportation agency, claiming that it was negligent in allowing the puddle of water to form.

Continue Reading

Being involved in a serious accident is a traumatic experience. Often, along with the weeks or months of physical recovery, there is a lengthy emotional recovery process as well. Many times, people may suffer from nervous episodes or may refrain from engaging in certain activities. These are understandable side effects of being involved in a serious accident.

Wet Floor SignThe law in Maryland allows for those who have been injured in a serious accident to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek financial compensation for all that they have been through. While each case is different, compensation packages may include amounts for past medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages due to time away from work, and any pain and suffering that the accident victim endured as a result of the accident.

Unfortunately, however, the process of filing a personal injury claim can be a lengthy one as well. Thus, it is very important that an accident victim do everything possible to ensure a smooth process to reduce the risk of additional delays. A recent case illustrates how one plaintiff’s failure to name the correct defendant ended up delaying the case for months, possibly years.

Continue Reading

Contact Information