Slip and falls are extremely common accidents. People who fall at a store, a restaurant, a hotel, an office, an apartment complex or another building they were lawfully at may have grounds to sue the owner or property management company. Our attorneys are often asked how much a slip and fall settlement is worth in Baltimore.
This is not an easy question to answer. All cases are different. The amount of money a slip and fall victim can recover in Baltimore can depend on a wide range of factors including the insurance available, whether blame can be easily established, and how severe the victim was injured.
Some slip and fall settlements and verdicts can be large. The owners of buildings typically have more generous insurance policies than private motorists. This is not always an advantage to the victim because landowners, property companies, mall owners, or the owners of hotels and restaurants usually dispute claims. For this reason, you should hire an experienced Baltimore slip and fall lawyer to fight these cases on your behalf.
Common Types of Slip and Fall Injuries
People slip over and fall all the time in Baltimore. These accidents can cause serious injuries or even wrongful death. While elderly people and children are most at risk from slip and falls, they can happen to people of any age. The mere fact you fell does not mean another party is automatically liable. Many slip and falls occur for no reason or due to the fault of the person who trips over.
However, if you fall over an obstacle, on liquid left on the floor, on snow left outside a store, on a worn rug, a crumbling stairway, or off a hotel balcony that was in a poor condition, the owner or operator of a business may be held liable for your injuries.
You don’t have to be in a building for a third party to be held liable. Everyday outdoor causes of slip and fall injuries include uneven sidewalks, broken asphalt, or areas outside stores where snow or ice has not been cleared. A landowner or a local authority can be held liable for slip and fall injuries in Baltimore due to poor lighting, missing handrails for ramps, and walkways that fail to comply with building codes. A scooter company could potentially be held liable if someone tripped over a dockless scooter left in a dangerous place on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and sustained a serious injury.
Factors that Influence a Slip and Fall Settlement in Maryland
Slip and fall cases fall under the laws of premises liability. This can be a complicated area. Old rules developed under Common Law, a system developed from Medieval times in England influence who is owed a duty of care by a landowner.
The duty owed to someone in a restaurant, a store, a football stadium or elsewhere depends on the status of the injured person and whether they are meant to be on the property. Maryland law classifies people who are on property into invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The duty that a landowner or a property owner owes to a person ion their property depends on which of these three categories the person falls into.
People who are invited onto a property are given the highest level of protection. This applies to any shoppers at a store during normal opening hours, hotel guests, or diners at a restaurant. Invitees gain the most protection. However, many shoppers or hotel guests who are injured in slip and falls do not have grounds to sue a property owner.
Licensees are protected but the law gives them less protection than invitees. They include people who have permission to be on the property but are not invitees. They include delivery drivers or friends of the landowner who are on the property.
Businesses have no obligation toward trespassers under common law. In Baltimore, the owners of the premises owe no duty to trespassers other than avoiding willful or wanton conduct that injures a trespasser. There are some exceptions such as unfenced pools or rail yards that attract children.
Proving Negligence in Maryland Slip and Fall Cases
You may not be entitled to a settlement in a Baltimore slip and fall case if the property owner was not negligent. If the victim was at all to blame for the accident, he or she will be barred from making a recovery.
Once it is established that a property owner or occupant was in breach of their duty to take reasonable measures or precautions, you must prove that the breach caused your injuries. If a store owner failed to mop up a spill but you fell over in the next aisle, the breach is clearly irrelevant. You must prove:
- The negligence or breach was a major cause of the injury.
- You would not have been injured if the owner was not negligent.
- Often a property owner will claim you contributed to your injury.
- Under Maryland law, you are responsible for your own safety but you cannot be held responsible for things you did not anticipate.
As in the case of a car accident, the severity of your injury is a factor in how much a slip and fall settlement is worth in Maryland.
Falls are the most significant cause of traumatic brain injuries. While broken bones usually heal, brain injuries can be permanent and life-altering. When a brain injury renders you a different person than before a fall, the settlement is usually significant.
Slip and falls often cause pelvic injuries in elderly people. These are often very complicated and can involve severe blood loss. They can even prove to be fatal.
Back injuries are also common after falls. They can range from sprains and herniated discs to serious spinal injuries that may cause paralysis. Some of the most serious falls involve the victim tumbling down a flight of stairs or being injured in a deck collapse. The most serious spinal injuries can cause paralysis. Other injuries commonly associated with falls include broken wrists. Often the victim will instinctively put his wrists out to stop a fall.
It is natural for the victim to try to break the fall. This can make the injury worse and result in tears of ligaments or tendons. These injuries can be treated with surgery and long courses of physical therapy.
Many serious falls cause a combination of injuries. Some never heal properly. The severity of injuries often pushes up the payout. Personal injury lawyers calculate a sum for present and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This includes mental anguish. You are more likely to suffer mental problems and post-traumatic stress disorder after a serious injury.
When injuries are judged to be permanent, the victims are more likely to get large payouts. In a recent case in South Carolina, a court clerk received a settlement of $750,000 for a fall on the courthouse steps.
He suffered a herniated disk and pain expected to last for the rest of his life. The court heard a Maryland company in charge of maintaining the bankruptcy court building removed slip-resistant foot safety strips from the stone steps and its workers applied wax or polish to the steps, rendering them slippery.
Call a Baltimore, MD Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer Today
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we help many slip and fall victims every year. No attorney can put an exact value on a likely settlement. We know the average value of a slip and fall settlement is in the six-figure range.
However, in one case a Maryland woman was awarded more than $4 million for a fall on ice that left her with serious injuries. It’s important to recover as much as possible after a serious fall caused by the fault of another person. Please call a Baltimore personal injury lawyer for a free consultation at (410) 694-7291.