Suing the State for Slip and Fall - Maryland Injury Lawyers Blog
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Aug 30, 2011 in Negligence
Winning any slip and fall lawsuit in Maryland is challenging because of the way our Court of Appeals has interpreted the assumption of risk defense and because Maryland is one of the few jurisdictions retaining the doctrine of contributory negligence (if you are 1% at fault you lose in Maryland.) However, recently a ruling out of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City is allowing a slip and fall lawsuit against the state of Maryland to proceed. A lady fell on ice at BWI Airport in the parking lot. The lawsuit claimed the State as the owner of the airport owed a duty to the lady who fell and breached its duty to maintain the parking lot free of ice and in a safe condition. The State argued that the state was not the proper defendant and instead the Maryland Aviation Authority was the proper defendant. The Judge denied the State of Maryland's Motion to Dismiss but suggested that the plaintiff add MAA as a defendant.
In Maryland it is often especially difficult to locate the proper defendant in a claim against the government. The law requires that notice be provided to any "local government" within 180 days of the incident or else the doctrine of sovereign immunity would bar the claim. Claims against the State of Maryland fall under another statute called the Maryland Tort Claims Act which requires notice be provided to the State of Maryland within 1 year. Lawyers in Maryland need to be careful to identify the proper defendants early on in the course of their representation and make sure that proper notice if sent out.
The lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan handle slip and fall and premises liability cases where the injuries are significant and where we believe we can establish that the defendant had notice of the defective condition that caused the fall and an opportunity to correct the dangerous condition. Again, these cases are challenging.....but a good lawyer and proper fact investigation and discovery can allow the plaintiff to have a fighting chance to win. The good thing about premises liability cases in Maryland is that the applicable insurance policies are generally larger than a typical low limits automobile insurance policy. However, there are additional defenses to overcome and the ancient doctrine of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk create challenges for lawyers handling these cases.