Our lawyers handle slip-and-fall negligence lawsuits and other premises liability claims throughout Maryland. This page discusses slip and fall claims, how to win them, and expected settlement amounts in these premise liability cases.
Slip and fall injuries are premises liability claims that result when someone slips, trips, or falls due to 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. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these injuries make up 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 resulting from dangerous conditions that the victim could not have foreseen.
Often, the problem is poor design or improper maintenance of the premises. Other slip-and-fall accidents in Maryland result from slippery surfaces resulting from food or liquid spillage.
How Much Will My Settlement Compensation for a Maryland Slip and Fall Case?
The median jury verdict in premises liability cases nationally is $100,000. The average verdict in these cases is three times higher. The average settlement amount in a typical slip-and-fall case will be much lower, probably in the $20,000 to $50,000 range.
The defendant that you sue has an impact on the settlement amount or verdict. 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.
The settlement payout of an individual lawsuit will depend mainly on how severe the plaintiff’s injury is. Slip and fall lawsuits in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County will typically have higher settlement compensation than in other Maryland jurisdictions. In our lawyers’ experience, you see a higher average payout in slip-and-fall cases with surgery than those without. This makes sense. Surgery is a marker for more severe injury.
Maryland has a lower average settlement amount for a slip and fall than the national average. Why? Because Maryland is one of a handful of states that have contributory negligence. This means if you are 1% at fault for your injuries, you cannot recover.
Our lawyers are not deterred from handling the right slip and fall lawsuit by Maryland’s contributory negligence law. Our Baltimore 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. So many slip-and-fall cases resolve for larger settlement amounts. 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 in 2022:
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 — will fail because they will be dismissed before the claims get to a jury. In the last few years, our high court has somewhat backed off this harsh rule. But not much.
Slipped and Fell on an Object on the Walkway
The classic law school torts slip and fall case is the customer walking down the aisle of her local grocery store who 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 acknowledging awareness of hazardous conditions. In this regard, actual notice will 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. The case is much stronger if it looks like it has been put through the wringer.
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 will 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 exercising ordinary care. That’s the key. The question in these cases will always center around whether the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances.
Does Your Law Firm Represent Slip and Fall Plaintiffs?
Yes. The caveat is that we only represent Maryland slip and fall clients who (1) have a severe and 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.
Our legal counselors will gladly speak with you if you have a serious injury case in Maryland. You can reach a Maryland slip and fall lawyer at 800-553-8082 or get a free Internet consultation.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you injure yourself in a slip and fall accident at a retail store or other 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 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
Why Am I Having a Hard Time Finding a Maryland Lawyer to Take My Slip and Fall Case?
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 negligent (e.g., wet floor with no caution sign, a massive hole in the 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 that establishing the owner’s liability may be difficult or impossible. In Maryland, you must show that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition (e.g., wet floor or hole in the sidewalk) to have a valid slip and fall case.
Are Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Win in Maryland?
Slip and fall cases can sometimes be challenging 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 tough to hold the store liable. Store employees were unaware of the soda spill and can’t say that they “should” have been aware of it 10 minutes after it happened.
More Maryland Slip and Fall Information
- Settlement Value of Slip and Fall Cases (get statistics and sample verdicts and settlements to figure out the value of your claim)
- A $537,000 verdict we received in a slip and fall case in Baltimore City
- 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 settlement compensation amounts of 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 settlement amounts for these awful injuries.