If you slip and fall on someone else’s property and suffer an injury, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries. These cases fall under the legal concept of premises liability, which allows you to hold a property owner liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition on his or her property.
However, simply because you fell on another’s property does not automatically make that property owner liable for your injuries. To have a viable slip and fall case, several items must be taken into consideration to determine if the property owner was negligent, and therefore responsible for your injury. Our experienced Silver Spring slip and fall attorneys can guide you through the following elements to determine if you have a slip and fall case. Contact Goldberg Finnegan today for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more.
Your Status as a Visitor on the Property
Premises liability cases are based on the duty of property owners to provide a reasonably safe property for visitors. Under Maryland common law, this duty varies depending on the visitor’s legal status while on the property at the time of the accident.
Maryland courts have identified four classifications of visitors to a property and the duty that property owners owe to each class:
An invitee is a person on the property for a reason related to the property owner’s business. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care under Maryland law. They must use reasonable and ordinary care to keep their property safe and to protect invitees from injury.
Licensee by Invitation
A licensee by invitation is considered a social guest who has been invited onto the owner’s property. Owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care to warn licensees by invitation of dangerous conditions on the property that the property owner is aware of but the licensee may not easily identify.
A bare licensee is someone who has permission to be on the property, but is only there for his or her own purposes. The only duty a property owner owes to a bare licensee is to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring the bare licensee and from creating new and undisclosed sources of danger without warning the bare licensee.
A trespasser is someone who enters a property without the consent or permission of the property owner. Property owner’s do not owe any duty of care to trespassers except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring or entrapping the trespasser.
The Property Owner’s Responsibilities
All property owners have a legal responsibility to use reasonable care to ensure the safety of their property. However, a property owner can only be held liable for injuries on his or her property if the owner was negligent in causing or failing to correct a hazardous condition on the property. This could include situations where:
- A reasonable property owner would have been aware of the hazard and would have taken the appropriate steps to correct the hazardous situation
- The property owner knew about the hazard, but failed to correct it
- The property owner caused the dangerous condition
When determining if the property owner acted reasonably in ensuring the safety of the property, it is important to consider:
- If the hazardous condition existed long enough that the property owner could have taken action to eliminate it
- If the property owner routinely checked the property for hazards and had a procedure for correcting hazards
- If the condition could have been made less hazardous through preventative measures such as placing a warning sign in the area
Your Contribution to the Accident
Finally, Maryland’s contributory negligence law requires that the actions of the injury victim be taken into account when determining if the individual has a personal injury case. Under this law, if the injury victim is believed to have contributed to the incident or his or her injuries, that person will be barred from recovering any compensation. This could include spilling a liquid on the floor and then slipping on it or ignoring a sign warning about slippery floors or a dangerous condition.
To have a valid slip and fall case, you must be able to prove that you did nothing to contribute to the accident. If the accident was entirely the fault of the property owner, he or she may be held liable for the accident.
Get Help from an Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you have considered each of the elements above and believe that you may have a slip and fall case, your next step should be to contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling a variety of personal injury cases, including those involving slip and fall accidents.
We are well-versed in Maryland’s premises liability laws and will be able to determine if you have a case and then guide you through the entire litigation process. Additionally, because we work on a contingency fee basis, we do not charge any legal fees or other expenses unless we recover compensation for you. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.