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Answers for Slip and Fall Victims in Maryland and Virginia

Posted on: October 9, 2012

When people think about personal injuries and personal injury lawyers, they mainly think about car accidents. However, experienced personal injury lawyers typically handle a wide variety of injury cases, regardless of the source of the injury. For example, if you are injured on someone else’s property in Maryland, you may be able to recover compensation under a negligence theory, because in Maryland almost all property owners and occupiers have a duty of care to make sure their premises are made reasonably safe for invitees. (An invitee is a person who is invited onto the property for business purposes.) However, just because you are an invitee or injured on someone else’s property, it does not mean that the property owner is automatically are responsible for your injuries. Only an experienced lawyer can help you determine if your claim is compensable.

We wrote this blog to provide more information for people who have suffered falling accidents in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C. and who are seeking general information on the subject.

  • Question Frequently Asked By Client: What kind of responsibility does a business owner have to its customers?
  • Answer: Generally speaking, business owners are responsible to keep their customers safe while they are on the property. If there is a dangerous condition on their property that they either knew about or should have known about had they been paying attention to it or performing reasonable inspections of the property – and where they failed to properly correct the condition or warn you about it, then they might be held responsible for causing your injuries. While this sounds simple in theory, it is decidedly not. There is an abundance of complex case law on the subject in Maryland and there are many factors that go into whether the Premises occupier had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition. These cases are often litigated to trial because a dispute will arise between the parties as to whether the condition was unreasonably dangerous, whether the actions or inactions taken by the premises owner or occupier were reasonable, and so forth. These disputes of issues of “fact” are issues that are ultimately decided by a judge or a jury in a typical slip and fall case in Maryland. It is important that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney who will help you determine whether you have a case or not.
  • Question: What are some types of examples of cases in which a property owner is not responsible for the customer’s injuries and what types of cases in which they are responsible?
  • Answer: There is no hard and fast rule here. The Answer typically depends on whether the property owner acted reasonably under the circumstances. Consider the following two examples:
    • A person spills a soda on the floor of a grocery store. Just minutes later, person B walks into the store and slips and falls breaking his leg. Here, because the soda was spilled by another customer just moments before the injury occurred, the property arguably had no notice of the dangerous condition. In other words, the premises owner did not have a fair chance to know about the spill and would not have had a reasonable opportunity to do anything about it. In this type of case, the store owner many not be responsible for an injury.
    • A person walks into the store and slips on soda that has been left on the ground for several hours and breaks his leg. In this example, the person may have a compensable injury claim depending on other factors. But here, it seems clear the property owner did not remedy the dangerous condition within a reasonable amount of time and therefore acted negligently.
  • Question: What should you do if you are injured on someone else’s property?
  • Answer: First of all, you should get the names of any witnesses who saw the fall and their contact information. If possible take photographs of the scene of the injury. You should also make a report of the injury to the property owner as soon as possible. Get the store owner or manager on duty to fill out an incident report and give you a copy. If you are injured and need medical attention, seek that medical attention right away. If you intend to make a claim for injury against the store, it is important as well to seek out the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney who will help investigate the claim as soon as possible. While many fall victims will not immediately realize the nature and extent of their injuries, and will not know whether they have a claim or even should make a claim – it always makes sense to get experienced advice from a legal professional as to your particular situation.

Bob Katz is the head of the Personal Injury Group at Gordon, Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger and Hollander. He has been serving the Korean community for over 35 years and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, whose membership is limited to attorneys that have won million dollar verdicts and settlements. He can be reached at 1-888-540-2599.

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Justin Katz is a personal injury lawyer who represents injury victims in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC
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