Our lawyers handle slip and fall and other premises liability claims throughout Maryland.
Slip and fall injuries are premises liability claims that result when someone slips, trips or falls as a consequence of an unsafe or hazardous condition. Slip and falls are, by some accounts, the second leading cause of injuries in our country, accounting for an incredible 16,000 deaths every year. Slip and falls, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, cause 15 percent of all accidental workplace deaths each year. Nursing home falls cause a stunning number of deaths each year.
Some slip and trip tort claims arise simply because the injured person was not paying attention. But our lawyers see scores of slip and fall claims that result from dangerous conditions that the victim could not have possibly foreseen. Often the problem is poor design or improper maintenance of the premises. Other slip and fall accident in Maryland result from slippery surfaces that result from the spillage of food or liquids.
The battlefield our lawyers are on in these cases often hinges on what constitutes reasonable care. Maryland law requires that property owners do what is reasonable for maintaining the property. The extent to which this requires warnings or efforts to become aware of and cure the hazardous condition are where slip and fall cases in Maryland are fought.
If you say the words “slip and fall” to a Maryland lawyer, you are likely to get a frown. Slip and fall liability in Maryland is difficult and sometimes impossible to prove in some types of slip and fall cases. Yet our lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for clients in slip and fall type cases in Maryland.
So when lawyers dismiss all slip and fall cases as impossible to prove, they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In fact, nationally, the median compensatory jury award for premises liability cases against owners/operators of an industry is $335,000 and the overall median award for premises liability cases was $100,000. So many slip and fall cases have value. But the average slip and fall case is not a case at all.
Below is a summary of the current state of slip and fall premises liability law in Maryland:Snow and Ice
One thing has been made clear to Maryland premises lawyers over the last few years. The majority of slip and fall on snow and ice cases -- if you are not walking to/from your home (and possibly to or from your place of employment -- are going to fail because they are going to be dismissed before the claims get to a jury. In the last few years, our high court has backed off this harsh rule a little bit. But not much.Slipped and Fell on Object on Walkway
The classic law school torts slip and fall case is the customer walking down the aisle of her local grocery store that slips on a banana peel and suffers an injury. In these cases, the key is whether the owner had either actual or constructive notice – they should have known it was there - of the banana peel. The difficulty in proving actual notice is that the plaintiff must demonstrate that the owner or defendant did or should have had knowledge of the slippery condition, in this case, the existence of the banana on the floor.
Store employees are good at playing dumb when it comes to acknowledging awareness of a hazardous condition. In this regard, actual notice is going to be hard to come by. So what will matter is how long the banana peel had been on the floor. If it is fresh, that is good evidence that it just fell. If it looks like it has been put through the wringer, the case is much stronger.
Another way that plaintiffs establish the constructive notice (should have known even if you did not know) requirement is to demonstrate that defendants are charged with constructive knowledge of what a reasonable inspection would have disclosed. In the banana peel example, at some point, you should inspect your store to make sure the aisles are clear because you know or should know things are going to fall in the aisles.When the Owner Creates the Condition
The best Maryland slip and fall cases are those where the owner or defendant created the slippery condition. Plaintiffs who play their cards right in these cases generally win. The plaintiff need not offer evidence that the defendant knew of the condition because the defendant's knowledge in such a case is conclusively presumed. Examples would be mopped, oiled or waxed floors.Maryland Slip and Fall Law from the Key Cases
- Wagner v. Doehring, 553 Md. 97, 553 A.2d 684 (1989): A landowner must use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the premises safe for an invitee. Under Maryland law, an invitee is defined as one permitted to remain on the premises for purposes intrinsically related to the purpose of the business.
- Rawls v. Hochschild, Kohn & Co., Inc., 207 Md. 113, 113 A.2d 405 (1955): The court found that the proper owner does not need to have actual knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused the victim to fall. But the victim must show that the storekeeper could have discovered the condition by the exercise of ordinary care. That's the key. The question in these cases is always going to center around whether the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances.
Yes. The caveat is that we only represent Maryland slip and fall clients who (1) have a serious, objective injury and (2) there is a strong possibility we can prove that the owner/defendant had actual or constructive notice of items or the condition of the walkway or area in question. If you have a smaller case and would like a referral, call Ron Miller and he will be glad to direct you to someone qualified to handle your case.
If you have a serious injury case in Maryland, our legal counselors will be glad to speak with you. You can reach a Maryland slip and fall lawyer at 1-800-553-8082 or click here for a free Internet consultation.
If you injure yourself in a slip and fall accident an a retail store or other type of commercial property, you should take the following steps after the incident to preserve any potential legal claim you might have against the property owner:
- Get immediate medical treatment
- Promptly report the incident to the owner / operator of the property
- Take pictures or video of the scene of the accident
- Find out if there is any surveillance video and ask that it be preserved
- Contact a personal injury lawyer about bringing a lawsuit
There could be several possible reasons why a lawyer might turn down your slip and fall case. The first and most likely reason is that your injuries are not significant. Even if the property owner was clearly negligent (e.g., wet floor with no caution sign, massive hole in sidewalk, etc.) your slip and fall claim won't be worth much if you only suffer minor injuries. Another possible reason for a lawyer to pass on your case is because it may be difficult or impossible to establish the owner's liability. In Maryland, you have to show that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition (e.g., wet floor or hole in sidewalk) in order to have a valid slip and fall case.
Slip and fall cases can sometimes be difficult to win because Maryland law requires the plaintiff to prove that the property owner knew about the dangerous condition that caused the slip and falls (or reasonably should have known about it). For example, if soda spills on the floor in the very back of the grocery store and 10 minutes later someone slips and falls on the spill it would probably be very difficult to hold the store liable. Store employees were not aware of the soda spill and can't really say that they "should" have been aware of the spill 10 minutes after it happened.
The median jury verdict in premises liability cases nationally is $100,000. The average verdict in these cases is 3 times higher. The average settlement amount in a typical slip and fall cases is going to be much lower, probably in the $20,000 to $50,000 range. The value of an individual case will depend largely on how serious the plaintiff's injury is. Case in Baltimore City and Prince George's County will typically have a higher value than other Maryland jurisdictions.
- Settlement Value of Slip and Fall Cases (get statistics and sample verdicts and settlements to figure out the value of your claim)
- $537,000 Slip & Fall Verdict | Miller & Zois
- Claims Against Home Depot
- Premises Liability in Maryland (an overview)
- Sample Deposition Subpoena to Property Owner (in snow and ice slip and fall)
- Sample Slip and Fall Complaint (sample slip and fall lawsuit)
- What Is the Settlement Value of My Slip and Fall Case? (discussing of valuing personal injury cases)
- Slip and Fall Cases in Maryland on Ice and Snow (new Maryland Court of Appeals Opinion
- Worst slip and fall injury: skull fracture. Look at the value of these cases.