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Maryland Court Considers Issue of Causation in Slip and Fall Case Against Restaurant

To establish a negligence claim in Maryland, the plaintiff must show proof of duty, breach, causation, and injury.  Causation generally requires evidence that the defendant’s actions caused her injury.  In a February 4, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed the evidence of causation in a personal injury claim.  The issue was brought on appeal by the plaintiff after the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a Maryland slip and fall case.

The plaintiff in the case had filed a legal action against the owners of a seafood restaurant.  The plaintiff alleged in her Complaint that she slipped and fell while patronizing the defendants’ restaurant.  She asserted that, as a result of the fall, she suffered injuries including chronic neck pain and numbness and pain in her hands.  The plaintiff sought damages for her injuries, which she argued were caused by the defendants’ negligence.

Before trial, the defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff could not prove the elements of causation or damages.  They pointed out that the plaintiff’s medical records were not certified and did not contain any statements by any of her doctors that her injuries were caused by the slip and fall accident.  Nor did the plaintiff have an expert witness to testify as to causation.  In addition, the plaintiff did not provide any medical bills for treatment and expenses related to her injuries.  The lower court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the circuit court erred by not granting her a hearing on the motion, where she would have had the opportunity to present additional evidence and more substantial records in support of her claim.  The appeals court noted that the plaintiff had been allowed to respond to the defendants’ argument regarding the lack of evidence of causation, but did not indicate that additional evidence or expert testimony would be forthcoming.  The appeals court thus found that she was provided sufficient opportunity to present her evidence.

The plaintiff also contended that, although her medical records were not certified, they could be admitted into evidence because they were electronically signed.  The appeals court disagreed, stating that the records were not admissible unless they were certified or authenticated through the testimony of the maker or custodian of the records.  The appeals court went on to hold that, even if the records were admissible, the plaintiff could not establish her claim without a medical opinion that the injuries she suffered were caused by her fall on the defendants’ property.  As such, the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland accident attorneys can provide legal advice to victims of negligence and their families.  If you have been injured in a slip and fall, motor vehicle collision, or any other type of accident caused by the carelessness of another person, you may be entitled to compensation.  Discuss your concerns with one of our qualified personal injury lawyers by requesting a free consultation.  We are available by phone at (301) 441-2022 or online.

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