“Slip and fall” refers to situations where a person slips and falls on someone else’s premises and suffers an injury. Slip and fall cases do settle in Maryland, but it often depends on the quality of your case and the expertise of your attorney. Every slip and fall is different.
The Maryland slip and fall lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras discuss how fault and other factors affect how your case is settled in court and why you need an attorney to help you succeed.
Examples of Common Slip and Fall Accidents in Maryland
If you were arguably at fault, perhaps through inattentiveness or distraction, your chances of settling your case without an attorney are not very high. You may have heard tales of people collecting huge sums for an injury that occurred on someone else’s premises. That may be true in other states, but in Maryland, if you are even 1% at fault, defendants do not have to settle. Consider these scenarios:
Slip and Fall on Icy Property
You are visiting the home of a friend for lunch and are finishing a business call as you slip on ice that has not been removed from their walkway. Slip and fall victims must prove that it was reasonable to expect the property owner had knowledge of the potential hazard of snow melting in the sun and turning into ice and failed to prevent the hazard. A neighbor may have seen you on the phone right before the accident and say you were distracted and at fault for not noticing an obvious hazard.
Slip and Fall Due to City Construction Hazards
On a busy day in the city, you are forced to walk through the scaffolding structure of a new office building being built downtown. There are marked walkways for safety, but you aren’t looking and you trip on an unexpectedly jagged part of the sidewalk and injure yourself badly. Here it can be argued that although actions were taken to protect pedestrians, it was still reasonable to foresee that forcing people to walk along certain paths may have guided them towards uneven surfaces of the sidewalk. Who is completely at fault may also be at issue, as the city or another defendant may be responsible for the jagged pavement.
Slip and Fall at a Store or Business
You are shopping at a supermarket or big box store and end up falling on a wet area of an aisle. You failed to notice the hazard warning indicating the floor could still be wet. Just simply putting up signage doesn’t absolve an owner of all responsibility. They may have had notice of a potential hazard and had a reasonable time to repair or remove it, but instead, they put up a sign and failed to take appropriate action to correct it. Our Baltimore supermarket store slip and fall lawyer can help prove negligence in an injury case.
What Do Slip and Fall Victims Have to Prove in a Settlement in Maryland?
Any slip and fall case requires that the injured party be able to prove that the owner or occupier of the premises where the slip and fall occurred, breached their duty of care and is thereby legally and directly responsible for any injuries or damages suffered. These falls can happen inside or outside of a building or in a parking lot or other open space.
In the case of outdoor accidents, the hazardous condition can be uneven sidewalks, poorly lit areas, a crack or pothole in a parking lot, or weather-related hazards like wet leaves, snow, or icy patches where it is reasonable to expect the hazardous condition would have been remedied.
Duty of Care
When a guest, shopper, or pedestrian walks on someone else’s property they are entitled to a certain duty of care. Owners and occupiers of businesses enticing shoppers onto their premises owe their customers a higher duty of care and must ensure that their premises are free from hidden dangers like debris, wet floors, wet leaves, snow, ice, loose railings, uneven steps, etc.
Negligence Caused the Injury
The damages must have been caused by the negligence of the owner or occupier in order for settlement negotiations to proceed.
Actual Damages Suffered
You may not realize the extent of your injuries immediately after the slip and fall. Seek immediate medical care. You may have suffered a concussion or other brain injury, or there could be damage to your spine. These are injuries that take a while to appear. Just remember that you could be suffering from more than just cuts and bruises or an arm in a cast.
Who is Responsible for Damages in a Maryland Slip and Fall?
It’s humiliating to fall in public. You may want to immediately blame others. Before doing so, consider whether you may have contributed to the fall in any way.
Here’s the key in the state of Maryland. If the defendant can argue that you were also at fault for the slip and fall, you may not receive a settlement offer at all. If you have been directly offered a settlement, it’s likely that you have a winnable case. You should contact a Maryland personal injury attorney immediately to see if the offer is fair and sufficient to cover your damages.
In terms of damages, a valid slip and fall claim is at least worth the cost of the medical bills you incurred. You are also entitled to property damage if, for example, your expensive watch was damaged, your clothes were ruined, or your prescription glasses were shattered when you fell.
Be aware that you may be able to recover the cost of your cracked cell phone if it fell out of your pocket or your bag. If you are claiming a damaged cell phone you were holding at the time of the incident, you may not be able to recover any damages at all.
Since Maryland evaluates claims under rules of “contributory negligence,” if you were talking on a mobile device or reaching to answer it when the slip and fall occurred, the property owner can claim that you were partially responsible for your own accident. If proven, your inattentiveness or distraction will vastly limit your settlement opportunities.
If no such distractions occurred and you expected to be safe where you were walking, then in addition to medical bills and property damage, you may be able to recover intangible damages. These intangible items may include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of spousal support, or even mental anguish over a disfigurement or permanent scar.
Why You Need an Attorney to Settle Your Slip and Fall Case
Retaining a Baltimore slip and fall lawyer can increase your chances of success in a Maryland slip and fall accident lawsuit. There are several situations in which a settlement is more difficult to obtain, especially without experienced legal representation by your side:
- There is some question as to who was at fault for the slip and fall
- The owner did not have reasonable time to warn, clear, or repair the hazard
- Hazard warnings were not seen or ignored
- Negligence on the part of the owner is not clearly established
- The owner is not solely to blame for the injuries
- The claimant was partially at fault for the accident
- The injured party is claiming tens of thousands in future damages
- The extent of injuries is in dispute
- The claimant is unrepresented by counsel
Contact Our Maryland Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers for Help
Do not hesitate to settle your slip and fall case out of court. A free consultation will not adversely affect your potential settlement claim in any way. Due to the strict contributory negligence laws in Maryland, it is critical to hire a Maryland slip and fall attorney to handle your case. An experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney can zealously defend against claims that you may have contributed to the slip and fall in any way and ensure that you are not prohibited from receiving compensation.
Contact the Maryland personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras for a free consultation at (410) 694-7291 to discuss your legal options if you were injured in a slip and fall accident due to someone else’s negligence.