Hazard Causing Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall at Gas Station Determined to be Open and Obvious, Defeating Plaintiff’s Claim

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.

The 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.

As the plaintiff was searching for the squeegee, she got the heel of her right shoe caught in a small groove in the pavement near the gas pumps. The plaintiff fell to the ground, resulting in serious injury. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the gas station.

The evidence presented showed that the grooves in the pavement were intentional and were actually required by state law. They were designed to trap gasoline in the event of a spill. However, the plaintiff argued that the gas station should have warned about the presence of the grooves.

The court disagreed. The court began by noting that landowners generally have a duty to maintain a safe location for visitors. However, the landowner does not have a duty to provide a “place of maximum safety.” Here, the court pointed to the plaintiff’s own statement that the grooves were clearly visible upon exiting the vehicle. Thus, the court determined that the groves were open and obvious.

The court explained that a defendant generally does not have a duty to warn of open and obvious hazards. The plaintiff attempted to get around this general rule by claiming that the gas-station environment is inherently distracting and that the defendant should have warned her based on that fact. The court again disagreed, noting that there was nothing extraordinary about the environment that warranted a different standard.

Have You Been Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entailed to monetary compensation. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent injury victims in all types of Maryland personal injury cases, including Maryland slip-and-fall accidents and other premises liability cases. We have the experience and dedication you need to feel comfortable placing your case in our hands. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Lebowitz & Mzhen today. Calling is free, and you will not be billed for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation that you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Procedural Requirements in Maryland Personal Injury Cases Involving Government Defendants, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 15, 2018.

Maryland Court of Appeals Allows Premises Liability Case to Proceed Based on Defective Condition of a Property Built in 1990, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 2, 2018.

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