Proving a Maryland Accident Case Through Circumstantial Evidence

Many Maryland accident victims do not have direct evidence of a defendant’s negligence. That is, the plaintiff does not have direct proof of the cause of the accident. In these cases, accident victims must prove the case through circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s fault, relying on inferences of the defendant’s fault.

In a Maryland negligence claim, a plaintiff must generally show that the defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, the defendant breached that duty, the plaintiff suffered an injury or loss, and the loss or injury was proximately caused by the defendant’s breach of its duty. Proof of causation may rest on direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, or a combination of the two. A negligence claim can rest solely on circumstantial evidence. However, the circumstantial evidence must create “a reasonable likelihood or probability rather than a possibility” that supports a “rational basis of causation” and cannot be based solely on speculation.

In a recent case before a state appeals court, the court considered whether there was sufficient evidence of causation in a case that rested on circumstantial evidence. In that case, the plaintiff went to a medical center to visit a patient. As she was walking to the patient’s room, the plaintiff slipped and fell in front of a utility-room door and fractured her kneecap. She alleged that the floor was wet and sued the Medical Center for negligence. The case went to trial, and a jury found in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded her more than a million dollars. The defendant appeal, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence of a wet floor or that the medical center knew of a wet substance on the floor.

The appeals court agreed and reversed the jury’s decision. The court held that the jury would have had to rely on “improperly stacked inferences” to find in the plaintiff’s favor. The plaintiff had submitted evidence of a video that showed employees dragging linen bags and trash into the utility room, which the plaintiff argued could have leaked onto the floor. The hospital had a policy against dragging bags, which had the potential to spill. The plaintiff also argued that a meal tray also could have spilled on the floor. The court found that the case was based on a series of inferences. There was no direct evidence of a wet substance on the floor before the plaintiff fell and that it was just as plausible that the plaintiff slipped on wetness caused by her own flip-flips and clothes after entering the hospital during a rainstorm. Thus, the court reversed the decision in favor of the plaintiff.

Baltimore, Maryland Attorneys Representing Accident Victims

Maryland accident victims and their families should consult with an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. Evidence can disappear, and a claim must be filed before the statute of limitations passes. The Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have more than twenty years of litigating accident claims in the Baltimore area. Their legal team works closely with medical experts to evaluate claims and aggressively pursue compensation for their clients. They know what it takes to build a successful negligence case. Contact them online or call them toll-free at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation.

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