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Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

Many Maryland residents rely on public transportation and expect that they will be able to access such conveyances without suffering harm. Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for passengers on public transportation to encounter dangerous conditions that ultimately cause them to suffer injuries. Whether a transit authority will be held liable for harm sustained in an accident on one of its vehicles depends, in part, on whether it had notice of the allegedly harmful condition, as explained in a recent Maryland opinion. If you were hurt while riding public transportation, it is advisable to speak to a Maryland personal injury lawyer to evaluate your possible causes of action.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries while riding a bus owned and operated by the defendant transit authority. Specifically, she tripped over the frame of the wheelchair ramp while entering the bus and stumbled. She subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for her harm. Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment arguing, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to establish the defendant had notice of the allegedly dangerous condition as required to recover damages under Maryland law.

Notice of Dangerous Conditions

In Maryland, in order to recover damages for negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate a duty, a breach of the duty, proximate cause, and damages. Further, a property owner’s liability to a person injured on their property depends on the individual’s status; for example, property owners have a duty to protect invitees from injuries caused by unreasonable risks that the invitees are unlikely to uncover. Continue Reading ›

Spills regularly occur in grocery stores, and if they are not cleaned up promptly, they can lead to slip and fall accidents. While grocery stores can be held accountable for losses caused by their carelessness, they will often try to avoid liability by arguing that the injured party is partially at fault for their harm. In a recent opinion, a Maryland court explained the affirmative defense of contributory negligence and what a defendant must prove to prevail on the defense. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you should speak to a Maryland premises liability attorney as soon as possible to determine what evidence you must produce to recover compensation.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was shopping in the defendant’s grocery store when she slipped and fell in an area that a store employee recently mopped. She sustained knee injuries that required surgical repair. She subsequently filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that its negligence caused her harm. Following discovery, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing, among other things, the affirmative defense of contributory negligence.

It is alleged that the defendant argued that the knowledge that the floor was wet should be imputed to the plaintiff because there were “wet floor” warning signs in the store. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading ›

A Maryland personal injury case may involve many forms of evidence, including witness testimony, medical bills, photographs and/or video, among others.  Generally, non-testimonial items of evidence must be authenticated before they are admitted at trial.  Depending on the type of evidence, authentication may be made by a lay witness, or it may require an expert to lay the foundation.  In a September 30, 2021 premises liability case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland addressed the requirements to admit digital file metadata of a cell phone picture at trial. 

The plaintiff in the case fell on the sidewalk while walking her dogs, suffering a broken right foot, two sprained wrists, and a fractured left knee cap.  The plaintiff alleged that she had stepped on a piece of concrete debris on the sidewalk, which caused her to fall.  She filed suit against the City, which owned the sidewalks, as well as the contractor hired by the City to repair them.

At trial, the plaintiff’s friend testified that after arriving at the plaintiff’s home to take her to Urgent Care, she went outside and took photographs of the concrete debris with her iPhone, which were later admitted into evidence.  The friend also admitted that she had moved the debris so that others would not fall.

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Black ice, sleet, and snow on untreated walkways and parking lots are a leading cause of slip and fall injuries.  In a July 20, 2021 Maryland negligence case, the plaintiff claimed that she was injured after slipping and falling on black ice in the parking lot of her condominium.  She brought suit against the owner and management company of her condominium complex, as well as the landscaping company they hired for snow and ice removal within the common areas of the complex.

The plaintiff alleged that on an early morning in January, she exited her condo and proceeded to walk to her car along a sidewalk that had recently been cleared of snow by the defendants.  The plaintiff stated that she slipped and fell on an area of “black ice” that was not visible because it blended in with the pavement.  In her suit, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants were negligent in failing to remove snow and ice, failing to use salt or de-icing chemicals, and failure to warn, among other allegations.  After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed the decision on appeal.

To establish negligence in a Maryland slip-and-fall case, four elements must be proven:  (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) an injury; and (4) that the injury was the proximate result of the defendant’s breach.  To prove the second element of breach, the plaintiff must establish not only that a dangerous condition existed, but also that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition, and the opportunity to remove it or give warning.

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When a tenant is injured as a result of a defective condition on the property that they are leasing, they may have legal recourse in certain situations.  In a June 15, 2021 negligence case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals considered whether the circumstances were enough to hold a landlord liable for alleged injuries caused by a defective staircase.

The plaintiff in the case was a resident and lessee of a townhome owned by the defendant.  On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was walking down an interior wooden staircase of the property to the basement, which she had typically done about six times a week.  The plaintiff alleged that the staircase suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed.  As a result, the plaintiff fell and allegedly suffered severe personal injury.

The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against her landlord, alleging that they were responsible for the inspection, maintenance, care and repair of the premises, including the basement steps.  After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed the decision.

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Defective, negligently maintained street infrastructure such as broken water meters or crumbling sidewalks can result in serious personal injuries to pedestrians.  In a March 12, 2012 case, the plaintiff in a Maryland injury lawsuit sued a city for negligence after falling on a broken storm drain grate and injuring her leg.  The case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland after the trial court entered judgment in favor of the City.

The plaintiff in the case was returning to her car after attending a professional football game.  As she walked among a crowd of fans, the plaintiff stepped onto a broken storm drain grate that was missing one of its metal bars.  The plaintiff’s foot and leg fell through the gap in the storm drain, causing her to fall.  After a fan helped her dislodge her leg from the storm drain grate, the plaintiff was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery on her leg.

The plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the City, alleging that it had been negligent in failing to properly maintain a storm drain and that was part of the street.  At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case at trial, the City moved for judgment, arguing that there was no evidence that it had actual or constructive notice of the defective storm drain.  The trial court granted the motion, and the issue was presented to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

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In Maryland, the liability of a property owner for a personal injury depends upon the standard of care owed to the injured person.  The standard of care, in turn, depends on the person’s status while on the owner’s property.  In a March 25, 2021 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a premises liability claim against a restaurant that was brought by one of its patrons.

The plaintiff in the case had dined at the restaurant with her husband and son.  Unable to find a parking spot in the restaurant’s designated lot, her husband parked in an adjacent parking lot.  The adjacent parking lot belonged to an unrelated limited liability corporation whose tenant had recently vacated the premises.  Upon entering the restaurant, the plaintiff testified that they asked the hostess whether they could park in the lot, and she stated “yes, we don’t have any problems” and “everyone does.”

After dining at the restaurant, the plaintiff and her husband headed towards their car.  Bypassing the paved portions of the lots and sidewalks, they cut across a grassy area of the property owned by the LLC.  After taking a few steps onto the grass area, the plaintiff’s foot landed in a hole that caused her to lose her balance and fall.  The plaintiff filed suit against the restaurant, alleging that they knew or should have known of the condition that caused her to fall when she walked across the grassy area.  The plaintiff did not file a claim against the owner of the adjacent lot and grassy area.

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To defeat a motion for summary judgment in a personal injury suit, the plaintiff must show sufficient evidence exists to support their claim.  In a February 1, 2021 opinion, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland considered a summary judgment motion filed by the defendants in a personal injury case.  The plaintiffs in the case brought their Maryland negligence claim in federal court against the owners of a restaurant after allegedly suffering injuries in a slip and fall accident.

The plaintiffs in the case visited a Maryland restaurant known for having peanuts on the floor.  Complimentary peanuts were served during all hours of operation, and customers were permitted to discard peanut shells on the floor of the restaurant.  While waiting to be seated, the plaintiffs made their way to the restrooms.  Before reaching the restroom, the plaintiff fell on the hardwood flooring and landed on her right hip, with her right foot twisted behind her.  The plaintiff testified that she had oily stains on the right side of her clothing, leading her to believe that she fell in peanut oil.

In their suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the restaurant was negligent by failing to protect her from a dangerous condition that allegedly caused her injuries.  To succeed on their Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiffs must establish: (1) that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) that the defendant breached that duty, (3) that the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss, and (4) that the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty.  Insofar as the plaintiff was a business invitee, the restaurant was required to use reasonable care to protect the plaintiff from from injury caused by an unreasonable risk that she would be unlikely to perceive in the exercise of ordinary care for her own safety, and about which the restaurant knows or could have discovered.  

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In some cases, Maryland trip and fall accidents may be caused by building design defects, negligent contractors, or careless property owners.  A person injured by a dangerous condition on real property may seek damages from the allegedly negligent or liable party in a personal injury suit, as in a recent case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.  In its January 6, 2021 opinion, the court considered an appeal filed by the plaintiff after a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant on her negligence claim.

The plaintiff in the case was working at a model home in Maryland.  As she was leaving the property, she fell on the exterior front steps.  She testified that she stepped down with her right foot onto the first step, then moved her left foot without realizing there was a second step.  In her suit against the landscaping company and concrete contractor, the plaintiff claimed that the steps did not comply with the relevant building code requirements.

Prior to trial, the concrete contractor filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that although it had poured the concrete for the front stoop of the property, it was not involved in the design or installation of the brick steps and walkway.  The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff’s negligence claims proceeded solely against the landscaping company.  After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.

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Under Maryland laws, a business owner has a duty to exercise ordinary care to keep their property safe for customers.  In turn, each customer has a corresponding duty to exercise care for their own safety.  In some negligence cases, the assumption of risk may be a factor in determining the liability of the business owner.  In a December 16, 2020 the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the jury was properly instructed on the issue of open and obvious dangers and the assumption of risk.  The suit was filed by the plaintiff on behalf of her minor son, after he suffered a slip and fall injury at an amusement park operated by the defendant.

The minor in the case was ten years old at the time of the accident.  During his visit to the defendant’s amusement park, he was injured after he fell while crossing a wet wooden pedestrian bridge near a water ride.  The minor’s mother brought suit, alleging that the defendant allowed water from the ride to accumulate on the wooden walkway, which the defendant knew or should have known created a dangerous slipping hazard.  The defendant argued that the wet and slippery condition of the bridge was open and obvious, and therefore, it had no duty to warn or cure the alleged dangerous condition.

After the close of evidence at trial, the defendant requested that the court present its open and obvious defense to the jury on the verdict sheet.  The trial court denied the motion, and the jury was asked to determine four issues: whether the defendant was negligent, whether the minor was contributorily negligent, whether the minor had assumed the risk, and damages.  The jury ultimately found that the defendant was negligent and awarded $45,000 in damages to the plaintiff.

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