Can a Washington, D.C. Plaintiff Recover after Slipping and Falling on the Property of a Friend or Family Member?

When a dangerous condition of another’s property results in injury to a guest, the landowner may be liable for any injuries through a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit. Often, these injuries occur at grocery stores, museums, parking lots, or on public property; however, it is not uncommon for this type of accident to occur while on the property of a friend or family member.

Just because an accident occurs on the property of a friend or family member does not mean that the injured party is without recourse. Indeed, this is the reason why homeowners carry insurance on their property. However, an accident victim still must be able to establish the elements of a premises liability lawsuit in order to recover for their injuries. This generally requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant was negligent in the maintenance of their property. A recent state appellate decision serves as an example of the type of evidence that must be presented in order for an injury victim to succeed.

As the court explained the facts, the plaintiff slipped and fell on an extension cord that was running down a set of outdoor steps while attending a party at the defendant’s home. The defendant was not home at the time, and was not the host of the party. Apparently, the defendant had allowed for another friend to host the party at his home.

The defendant acknowledged that he was doing yard work earlier in the day, but that none of the tools he was using were electric. He also admitted that he owned several extension cords like the one that caused the plaintiff’s fall, but that he had no idea where the cord came from or who laid it across the stairs. For an unknown reason, the plaintiff did not take photos of the cord.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s case, concluding that it was insufficient as a matter of law. The court explained that while the plaintiff could establish liability by proving that the defendant failed to remove a known hazard from his property, the plaintiff’s evidence failed to prove the defendant knew of the cord’s existence. The court noted the plaintiff’s case relied solely on circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s knowledge. The court reasoned that circumstantial evidence can be sufficient to prove a premises liability case, but not when there is direct evidence to the contrary. Here, the defendant’s testimony denying that he placed the cord or knew of its presence rebutted the plaintiff’s suggested inference, requiring additional evidence from the plaintiff.

Contact a Knowledgeable Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident Attorney

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, contact the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Knowing how to start the process of filing a personal injury case can be daunting. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we provide exceptional representation to accident victims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. and have been doing so for over the past 20 years. We handle all types of personal injury matters, including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability cases, and claims of medical malpractice. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to set up a free, no-risk consultation today.

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