Can Property Owners Be Held Liable for Falls Caused by Snow or Ice?
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Nov 14, 2019 in Personal Injury
As temperatures drop and you encounter snow or ice on other’s properties, it is important to be careful to avoid a slip and fall. These accidents can cause severe injuries that could require long recovery times.
The damages from these injuries can be quite significant, which is why you may want to discuss the situation with a lawyer. The property owner may have had a legal responsibility to remove the snow or ice that caused you to fall.
Goldberg Finnegan’s experienced Silver Spring slip and fall injury lawyers offer a free legal consultation to assess your situation and determine if you may be eligible to pursue compensation.
Maryland courts have stated that homeowners have a legal responsibility to prevent hazardous conditions on their residential properties. If a residential property owner knew or should have known that their property was dangerous because of snow or ice, the property owner has a duty to clear the area to prevent others from being injured on the property.
Business owners are often held to a higher standard than residential property owners because they invite customers to their properties for their own financial gain. These property owners have a legal duty to keep invitees safe.
The local government may be responsible for clearing sidewalks in front of public or state-owned buildings.
To establish the right to recover compensation for a slip and fall claim, you must prove a few things:
- The property owner had a legal duty to protect you from a dangerous condition on the property and he or she was aware of the dangerous condition.
- The property owner breached his or her legal duty by not protecting you from the dangerous condition.
- You were injured on the property because of the property owner’s breach of duty.
- You suffered damages, which could include medical expenses, lost wages from missing work, pain and suffering, etc.
Does Maryland Have Snow Removal Laws?
Maryland does have snow removal laws, but they vary from one area to the next. Anne Arundel County and Montgomery County require property owners to remove snow within 24 hours of the end of the snowfall, while Prince Georges County requires property owners and renters to do the same. Violating these laws can support a legal argument that the property owner was negligent.
In the absence of a specific snow removal law, the property owner’s lease may state who is responsible for snow or ice removal. It may indicate the property owner may be responsible for this duty or that the renter is.
What is Pure Contributory Negligence?
Pure contributory negligence is a legal principle that says if you are at all at fault for your injuries, you forfeit the right to recover compensation for your damages. Under this system, even if you are one percent at fault and the property owner is 99 percent at fault, you cannot recover compensation based on the property owner’s negligence.
Maryland uses a pure contributory negligence system, unlike many other states that allow victims pursue compensation if they are partially at fault. In these states, settlements are reduced in proportion to victims’ percentages of fault. Victims are prohibited from pursuing compensation if their percentage of fault crosses a certain threshold.
Maryland’s contributory negligence system is used in court and may also be used by the insurance company. They may argue that you saw ice or should have anticipated it, so you were partially at fault for the accident. They will look for any way to avoid providing fair compensation for an injury.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer for Help with Your Claim
If you fell or were injured because of ice or snow while on another’s property, the trusted legal team at Goldberg Finnegan may be able to assist you. In a free consultation you can find out if there may be grounds for legal action to seek injury compensation.