Did You Slip and Fall on the Ice? What You Need to Know
Winter is coming, which means that you are very likely to encounter ice even if we don’t see any snow in Maryland. We all recognize the hazards that ice poses on the roads, but the danger of icy sidewalks, stairs, and parking lots is often overlooked. What do you do if you slip and fall on the ice and suffer a serious injury? What are your rights? If you fell on someone else’s property, an experienced slip and fall lawyer can answer all of your questions and determine whether you may be entitled to compensation.
Property Owners Have a Duty of Care
The general rule when it comes to slip-and-fall accidents is that property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their property in a manner that is safe for others. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur that were reasonably foreseeable.
In the context of ice, it can be especially difficult to determine whether the property owner has breached their duty of care. In some cases, how and when the ice forms may make it impossible for the property owner to address the situation beyond issuing a warning. In other cases, there may have been steps that could have been taken to prevent accidents. In some cases, the property owner’s duty of care may require only that they warn guests and visitors, while in other cases, it may require them to treat or remove the ice. A knowledgeable slip and fall lawyer will be able to determine whether the property owner in your case breached their duty of care and should therefore be held liable for your injuries.
Where You Fell and Your Relationship to the Property Owner Can Make a Difference
The law surrounding slip and fall accidents is complicated. As a result, determining whether you can pursue a claim for compensation is not always easy. Two of the factors that can determine whether you have a claim include the following:
- Where you fell. Generally speaking, commercial property owners have the highest duty of care to prevent slip and fall accidents that are reasonably foreseeable. Business owners must be especially vigilant when it comes to treating ice and warning customers and clients of dangerous conditions. Private property owners generally owe a lower duty to prevent accidents to their guests.
- Your Relationship to the property owner. This factor is closely related to where you fell. For example, property owners owe no duty to trespassers. They have minimal obligation to people who are on the property for their own benefit, such as door-to-door sales professionals. Social guests are owed a higher duty but less than the duty commercial property owners owe to customers and clients.
We should note that you do not necessarily have a claim just because you fell on commercial property. Similarly, do not assume that you do not have a claim because you were injured on private property. Instead, seek counsel from a slip and fall lawyer to understand what options you have and how you should proceed.
Assumption of Risk
A common defense in slip and fall cases is that the injured party assumed the risk by going out in icy conditions. However, Maryland courts have consistently ruled that this can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. Factors that will be considered are whether the victim should have been aware of the hazard by observation. Cases where the presence of ice was obvious will be more challenging than cases where the ice can be difficult to see or the person had reason to believe that the area was safe.
Maryland follows the pure contributory negligence rule that prohibits victims from recovering any compensation if their own negligence contributed to the accident. In the context of a slip-and-fall accident caused by icy conditions, this could include avoiding an easier path that was obviously safer, not using handrails, or even wearing high heels. That said, this is an affirmative defense that must be proven by the property owner. A slip and fall lawyer will know how to overcome allegations of contributory negligence.
Contact Slip and Fall Lawyer Thomas E. Pyles if You Have Fallen on the Ice
If you have suffered a serious injury after falling on the ice, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. Call The Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles at 301-705-5006 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and how we can help.