Each year, thousands of people are injured in Maryland slip and fall accidents. Not surprisingly, a large percentage of these accidents occur in the winter months, when the presence of ice and snow makes navigating parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways a potentially dangerous experience.
When it comes to determining who is responsible for clearing snow or ice, Maryland law does not provide clear answers. Under general premises liability law, landowners owe a duty of care to those whom they allow onto their property. This duty requires a property owner to take reasonable care in maintaining their property and that they warn guests of known dangers. Maryland does not have a law directly discussing a property owner’s duty to clear snow and ice. Thus, the extent of a landowner’s duty, if any, will be determined by considering the following:
- Did the landowner know about the snowy or icy conditions?
- If not, should they have known about the conditions?
- Did they do anything to cause the dangerous condition?
That being said, some Maryland cities, towns, and counties have passed snow removal laws requiring a property owner clear snow or ice within a certain amount of time. In these areas, a landowner’s failure to comply with a snow removal regulation may support a Maryland premises liability claim against the property owner.
An important consideration in any Maryland slip and fall case is whether the accident victim was negligent. If so, this can eliminate their ability to pursue a case against a negligent landowner. Under Maryland’s strict contributory-negligence model, accident victims who share even the slightest amount of fault for their injuries are not permitted to recover for their injuries. This is even the case if the accident victim is just 5 percent at fault and the landowner 95 percent at fault. Thus, it is imperative to an accident victim’s case to rebut a landowner’s claim that the accident victim contributed to their injuries.
A related concept that accident victims must also be aware of is assumption of the risk. If an accident victim is found to have realized the risks associated with traversing a snowy or icy path, they may be found to have assumed any of the associated risks. The burden to prove an accident victim assumed the risk rests with the defendant landowner, who must show (1) the accident victim had knowledge of the risk of potential harm; (2) the accident victim appreciated that risk; and (3) the accident victim voluntarily encountered the risk of danger.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip and Fall Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Maryland slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, we provide accident victims with top-notch legal representation from the beginning of their case up through the end. We have over 20 years of experience representing injury victims and their families, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more, call 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation today.