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Slip And Fall Personal Injury Claims: What You Need To Know

Slip And Fall Personal Injury Claims: What You Need To Know Lawyer, Gaithersburg, MDFall injuries are all too common, especially as we age, and if those falls were caused by the negligence of someone else, then they are liable for the costs you incur. These kinds of lawsuits are often called “slip and fall” cases, and they can help cover medical costs after a fall. In order to receive the compensation you deserve, it is important to understand these falls, how they come about, and the rules for filing for damages. This article explains:

  • The common causes of slip and fall accidents and the common injuries they can cause.
  • The duty of care property owners owe in Maryland, and when they can be considered negligent.
  • The deadlines and evidence needed when filing for a slip and fall premise liability case in Maryland.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Slip And Falls Or Trip And Fall Accidents In Maryland?

Falls can happen for any number of reasons, but in order for one to be considered a slip or trip and fall injury susceptible for a personal injury claim, there must be an aspect of negligence on behalf of the person or company in charge of the area.

Broadly, the causes can be divided into slips and trips. Slips are usually caused by a slippery surface, while trips are usually caused by an uneven one. Some common examples include:

  • Slipping on some foreign substance in the grocery store, whether it be spilled liquid or smashed that should have been cleaned up or indicated by a sign.
  • Slipping on ice or wet flooring in the inside courtyard of a restaurant.
  • Tripping over a loose threshold or folded carpet at the entrance of an apartment building.
  • Getting your foot caught and falling on stairs that were not up to code at a museum.

Anytime you fall as a result of something in the environment that was the responsibility of the property owner to maintain or manage, you might be eligible to file a claim for premise liability compensation.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Injuries In Slip Or Trip And Fall Accidents?

Injuries vary based on the person and the fall and can cover a wide range from mild to extremely serious or life-threatening injuries. Often the severity of the injury will be determined as much by the age and physical health of the person falling as the environment or cause of the fall.

Slip or trip and fall injuries run the gambit from sprains and twisted ankles to broken bones or torn tendons. Upper body injuries can also happen when you put your arms out to protect or catch yourself. Fractured wrists or broken arms are not uncommon.

Head injuries, however, are usually the most dangerous and are also very common. If somebody slips and hits their head against a hard surface, a floor, or a sidewalk, they could have a concussion, or even worse trauma if they hit a hard edge or sharp corner as they fall.

What Duty Of Care Is Owed To Visitors In Maryland Regarding Slip And Fall Accidents?

Maryland laws distinguish between several statuses in terms of what care is owed a visitor depending on which category they fall into. Generally speaking, though, the owner or occupier has a duty to avoid an unsafe or dangerous environment.

First, there is the invitee. An Invitee is a person who is invited or permitted to be on another’s property for purposes related to the owners’ or occupiers’ business. Some good examples of that would be a customer in a store, or a person in a hotel who is staying there or going to their restaurant.

Second, there is the social guest status. A social guest is a person who is on the property of another at the express or implied invitation of the owner or occupier for reasons unrelated to the owner’s or invitee’s business. A social guest is allowed to be there by express or implied invitation, but not necessarily there for the business of the owner.

A third status is a bare licensee. A bare licensee is a person who is on the property with the consent, but not at the invitation of the owner, and who is there to serve her own interests, but not the interest of the owner or occupier. For example, a salesman who has entered a home to demonstrate a product.

The fourth and lowest status is a trespasser. This is a person on the property of another without the consent of the owner or occupier of the property.

The duty of care that is owed to each of those is very dependent on the status, with the highest degree of care generally being for visitors and guests, and trespassers being owed very little.

What Is The Concept Of Premise Liability As It Applies To Slip And Fall Claims In Maryland?

Depending upon the status of a person, there are certain duties and responsibilities owed to them by the owner or occupier of the premise to ensure their safety. An owner is not a guarantor or an insurer of somebody’s safety when they come onto their property but, depending upon the status, they still have certain obligations.

When these obligations are breached, that is when lawyers begin to talk about premise liability. In other words, the owner or occupier of a property has failed to fulfill those obligations, which can be considered faulty or negligent behavior. They are liable for some or all of the damages if you get hurt as a result of that breach.

How Long Do I Have To File A Slip And Fall Personal Injury Claim In Maryland Before The Statute Of Limitations On It Expires?

You should always come forward to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible to give them the most time to build a strong case in your favor. Nevertheless, you do have some time, especially because some injuries take time to manifest or to be understood. For most slip and fall cases the statute of limitations in Maryland is three years from the date of the incident.

What Evidence Is Crucial To Support A Slip And Fall Personal Injury Claim?

The first and most important thing to prove for establishing liability is that the owner or occupant was aware of the problem which then caused the slip or trip and fall. This is called notice and it is crucial.

Notice of the defect or of the dangerous condition can come in two forms. There is actual notice, which is oftentimes very hard to prove, or constructive notice, which is the easier and more frequent method of proving it.

Actual notice occurs if the owner/occupant themselves were responsible for causing the hazard. For example, take a grocery store where a store employee creates danger by knocking over grapes on a cart and then does nothing about it. The grocery store has actual notice because they were the ones that caused the hazard. If they chose not to clean it up, that would be problematic and dangerous and thus a breach of their duty of care.

However, oftentimes it’s not the store itself or its employees that create the problem. Another customer may have caused a spill on their floor which the owners may not necessarily know about. This is why grocery stores have what they call a sweep log. They check each aisle periodically to make sure that there are no hazardous conditions, which shows how long it has been since they last checked. 

Often the facts may reveal that no one checked the floor on the day of a fall or for a length of time that might be deemed unreasonable or irresponsible. If nobody checked the floor for two days, then the knowledge of the spill on the floor can be placed upon them “constructively” because they should have checked periodically and failed to do so. While they did not know, they were at fault for not knowing.

If you are unsure whether a trip or slip and fall injury you suffered may be eligible for a premise liability personal injury claim, an experienced attorney can help you figure out if you have a case.

For more information on Premises Liability Injury Claims In Maryland, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (301) 670-0443 today.

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