Slip and fall accidents are much more common than you might expect. They can occur on sidewalks, parking lots, or streets, as well as in department stores, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, and retail businesses. Many victims require medical care and find themselves unable to return to work.
Karen Sussman and Howard Simcox are well-equipped to help you protect your right to compensation after a slip and fall accident or any type of premises liability incident. They’ll answer your questions, investigate liability, determine how much your case is worth, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. If the insurance company is being unreasonable, they’ll prepare your case for trial and aggressively represent your interests throughout the process.
Possible Defendants in a Slip and Fall Claim
The first step in any slip and fall claim is to determine who might be liable for your medical expense, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Potential defendants include the:
- Property owner. In most cases, the property owner is the one who is responsible for your damages in a slip and fall claim. Property ownership comes with a recognized obligation to avoid conditions that put others at risk.
- Business or individual leasing the property. Signing a property lease requires a business or individual to take certain steps to maintain safe conditions, so the lessee may be liable under some circumstances. For example, it is common for retail stores to lease their space from the property owner, and an accident caused by cluttered displays may be the responsibility of the store.
- Maintenance company. If the property owner or lessee uses a third-party company for snow removal, landscaping, and general maintenance, the company may be responsible for your damages if their actions caused your accident.
Elements of a Successful Slip and Fall Claim
To prevail on a slip and fall accident claim, you must be able to establish the defendant’s negligence. This is similar to what happens in a car accident case or any other type of personal injury claim. There are four key elements of negligence.
- Duty. The defendant owed you a duty of care because you were lawfully present on the property and not trespassing.
- Breach of duty. The defendant created the condition or knew of the danger. The condition was present long enough that the owner should have known about it and taken steps to correct it, or the nature of the owner’s business made your accident reasonably foreseeable.
- Damages. You were injured and experienced a financial loss as the result of your condition.
- Causation. Your damages were caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
How Partial Fault Affects Your Claim
Both Maryland and D.C. use the contributory negligence standard for premises liability and personal injury claims. If you are found to have contributed to the accident in any way, you are unable to recover compensation for your damages. This means the insurance company for the defendant has a powerful incentive to argue that you were even 1% at fault for the accident.
Some of the ways the insurance company might try to blame you for your injuries include:
- Claiming you were on a part of the property where you weren’t supposed to be
- Saying you were texting, engaging in horseplay, or otherwise distracted
- Accusing you of wearing shoes or clothes that were inappropriate or unsafe for the circumstances
- Pointing to warning signs or cones as evidence you should have known the situation was dangerous
- Failing to see and avoid the visible defect
To avoid complications with your claim, let our attorneys handle communication with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. The adjuster may seem friendly and eager to be of service, but their job is to get you to say or do something that casts doubt on your credibility and suggests that you were injured due to your own carelessness.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip and Fall Accident?
If you've been injured in a slip and fall accident, you need to speak with an experienced slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Gaithersburg office directly at 301.840.0404 to schedule your free consultation.