- Next, you must prove that the property owner or occupier had a reasonable opportunity to correct the defect or hazard. If you slip on snow and ice at the beginning of a winter storm, for instance, a property owner could argue that they did not have reasonable opportunity to clear up the snow and ice.
- Finally, in most cases you must also prove that the defect or hazard was not reasonably apparent. For example, a supermarket may successfully avoid liability to you for a slip and fall if they can show that you ignored or failed to take due care around a “wet floor” sign.
How Can a Slip and Fall Attorney Help?
When you suffer a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be immediately confronted with the prospect of fighting against insurance companies and big corporations that are looking to avoid liability for your injuries.
You may have also suffered severe injuries that require your time and energy to recover. A slip and fall attorney can help you seek compensation for your slip and fall injuries by fighting back against the efforts of insurance companies and big corporations to deny you the recovery you deserve and by taking over the burdens of pursuing a legal claim for compensation.
A slip and fall attorney can help you with your claim by contacting the property owner or occupier to begin collecting relevant information in your case. An attorney may request that the owner or occupier preserve critical evidence – such as accident or incident reports they have prepared or surveillance video of the accident – before that evidence is deleted or destroyed. An attorney could use this evidence to build a case to show how your slip and fall accident occurred and how the property owner or another party was responsible for your accident and is therefore liable to you for your injuries.
An attorney can begin negotiating with the responsible parties and their insurance companies to try to get you a quick but full and fair settlement of your claims. If settlement isn’t possible, an attorney can pursue your claim through the civil court system, advocating on your behalf to a judge and jury to get you a verdict and judgment for the compensation you deserve.
Compensation Available After a Maryland or D.C. Slip and Fall Accident
If you or a loved one have suffered personal injury in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to certain kinds of compensation. Compensation for personal injuries typically falls into two categories – economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate an injured party for his or her financial losses incurred as a result of his or her injuries. These can include:
- Past and future medical expenses, such as the cost of surgeries, hospital stays, doctor’s office visits, physical and occupational therapy, prescription medication, or durable medical equipment like slings, crutches, or wheelchairs
- Past and future lost income, including wages lost due to work you missed because of your injuries, along with any difference between your pre-accident and post-accident income if your injuries cause you to suffer a dip in earnings
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate an injured party for more subjective losses that result from their injuries. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages cannot be easily calculated from a bill or a paystub. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, such as the physical, emotional, and mental anguish caused by your injuries
- Loss of quality of life, such as the loss of your ability to perform daily tasks or to participate in activities you enjoyed before your accident
- Loss of consortium, which compensates your spouse and immediate family members for the loss of your companionship and services to the family and household
Finally, if you suffered any property damage as a result of your slip and fall accident (for example, if you dropped and broke your cell phone during your fall), you may also be entitled to claim compensation for the repair or replacement of your property.
Time Limit to File a Slip and Fall Injury Claim in Maryland or D.C.
The law imposes a time limit on someone to file a lawsuit to claim damages from a slip and fall accident. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. In Maryland and D.C., the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim arising from a slip and fall accident is three years from the date of the accident.
If a person does not file a lawsuit to claim damages from their slip and fall accident within the statute of limitations, they are permanently barred from filing their claim unless a very narrow exception applies.
Maryland and D.C. laws can extend the statute of limitations for claimants who are minors. The law allows a minor three years from their 18th birthday to file a legal claim for an injury that happened before their 18th birthday.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Virtually any hazard that can obstruct a person’s steps or reduce the traction of their feet on the floor can cause a slip and fall or trip and fall accident. Some of the more common causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Wet surfaces, often caused by snow and ice, spilled liquids, or leaks from coolers, refrigerators, or freezers
- Uneven floors, such as broken pavement or steps, cracked tile or flooring, or damaged carpets or rugs
- Potholes and trenches, such as those that may occur in parking lots or fields
- Debris and other objects on the ground, which can range from trash to power cords to toys left out by a child
- Transitions from one flooring surface to another, which can cause someone to fall when they fail to adjust their gait to the new surface
- Lack of handrails on steps and staircases
Places Where Slip and Fall Accidents Can Occur in Maryland and D.C.
Although a slip and fall accident can occur almost anywhere, many accidents occur on certain kinds of properties. Often, these are commercial businesses with heavy foot traffic that puts wear and tear on the property and increases the number of people who might suffer such an accident.
Some of the common places where these accidents occur include:
- Supermarkets and grocery stores – Supermarkets and grocery stores are arguably the most common place for slip and fall accidents. Customers frequently drop items or spill substances on the floor, and coolers and freezers can leak and leave water on the ground. Customers may also track in rainwater, snow, and ice on their feet.
- Hotels and resorts – Hotels and resorts are also places where slip and fall accidents occur, as guests spill drinks or other liquids on the floor, track water from the swimming pool, and put excessive wear and tear on the floor that can cause damaged flooring, carpets, rugs, or steps.
- Small businesses and stores – Slip and fall accidents can also occur on the premises of small businesses and restaurants. Pursuing claims against these entities can be just as difficult and complicated as pursuing a claim against a big corporation that owns a supermarket or hotel.
- Public spaces – Plenty of slip and fall accidents occur in public parks, sidewalks, plazas, and other public spaces. Although these can be the fault of a governmental entity, pursuing legal claims against the government can be extremely complicated.
- Private residences – Slip and fall accidents can also occur in private homes or apartment buildings. When they occur inside a residence, liability usually falls with the homeowner or tenant. When they occur in common areas of a residential building or complex, responsibility usually belongs to the landlord, management company, or homeowner’s association.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt in a Slip and Fall Accident
If you are in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, there are steps you can take to secure your legal rights and options and to put yourself in a better position to make a legal claim for compensation.
You should always seek medical attention as soon as is practical, including emergency treatment if necessary. Even if you do not think your injuries are very serious at first, pain and other symptoms of injury can take days or even weeks to manifest themselves.
Having a medical professional diagnose you with injuries as close as possible to the time of your accident can improve your prognosis and strengthen your case that those injuries were caused by your slip and fall accident.
If possible, you should immediately take photographs of the area where your accident occurred, especially before it is cleaned up or fixed. You should try to take photos of whatever caused your slip and fall, whether that is snow and ice, a substance on the floor, uneven pavement, a broken step, etc. You should also try to take photos of any signs (or lack thereof) warning of the hazard, any obstructions blocking your view of the hazard, the lighting conditions, and the weather conditions.
You should contact the property owner or operator to report your accident. If the fall occurred at a business, the business might complete an incident report. You should be sure to get the contact information for the property owner, the person occupying the property, and any applicable insurance carriers for the property. You should also contact the property owner or occupier in writing to request that they preserve any critical evidence, such as an accident or incident report or surveillance video of your accident.
You should speak to an experienced slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. You have a limited time under the law in which to bring a legal claim for compensation. You will want to give yourself and your attorney as much time as possible to investigate the accident, ensure that critical evidence is preserved, and potentially negotiate a settlement before you have to file a lawsuit to preserve your claim.
Talk to a Charles County Slip and Fall Attorney Now
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property in Maryland or D.C., you may be entitled to compensation from the property owner or another party for the injuries and other losses you’ve suffered.
Don’t delay seeking the financial recovery you need and deserve. Contact Charles County slip and fall attorney Matt Trollinger today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and to learn more about your rights and options.