Maryland Plaintiff Pursues Appeal Against Clothing Store After Trip and Fall Injury

People who have been injured in a retail store or other business may be able to recover their medical expenses and other losses if the accident was caused by negligence.  In a March 14, 2018 Maryland premises liability case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed an injury claim filed by a plaintiff against a retail clothing store.  After the circuit court had granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed.

The plaintiff in the case was injured when she tripped and fell in the defendant’s store.  She alleged that her flip flop sandal became caught on an unsecured transition strip of rubber, which separated a carpeted section of the store from an uncarpeted aisle between departments.  The plaintiff contended that the transition strip was damaged and detached from the ground, creating a dangerous condition for store patrons.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was an invitee of the defendant’s store.  In Maryland, there is an assumption that the defendant, a retail establishment, will exercise reasonable care to ascertain the condition of the premises.  In light of this assumption, the defendant has a duty to warn invitees of known hidden dangers, a duty to inspect, and a duty to take reasonable precautions against foreseeable dangers.  In a premises liability case, the evidence must show not only that a dangerous condition existed, but also that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of it, and that that knowledge was gained in sufficient time to give the defendant the opportunity to remove it or to warn the plaintiff.

The main point of dispute was whether the plaintiff could prove that the defendant had notice that the transition strip was loose before her fall.  The plaintiff was relying upon a statement that she and her husband attributed to an unknown person, after she was helped off the floor.  The plaintiff asserted that she heard an unidentified employee, responding to the location of her fall, say, “They knew about this. I’m not getting fired for this.”  The defendant argued that the statement should be excluded from evidence as hearsay.

On appeal, the court agreed that there was insufficient evidence to find that the statement had been made by an agent or employee of the defendant.  Even if the statement was allowed in as hearsay, the court explained that it would have to meet the requirements of reliability, trustworthiness, and credibility.  Finding that it did not, the court ruled that the statement was properly excluded.  Since the plaintiff had no other evidence to establish that the defendant had notice of the defective condition, the appeals court affirmed the summary judgment order.

At the Maryland firm of Foran & Foran, P.A., our personal injury attorneys pursue compensation for plaintiffs who have been hurt in accidents caused by negligence.  From car crashes and premises liability accidents to medical malpractice claims, we have the experience and resources to assist you in recovering your expenses and other losses.  To schedule a consultation regarding your case, call Foran & Foran, P.A. at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Plaintiff Wins on Appeal in Slip and Fall Case Against Convenience Store, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 5, 2016

Maryland Plaintiff Files Negligence Claim Against Retail Store After Injury from Falling Object, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 9, 2017

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