Articles Posted in Premises Liability

The basic principles of Washington, D.C. premises liability law provide that landowners may be liable for a visitor’s injuries in certain situations. Typically, a plaintiff must establish that the landowner was negligent in maintaining the property to successfully recover compensation. There are several common ways plaintiffs can prove that a landowner was negligent.

In a recent state appellate decision, a court discussed two claims brought by a plaintiff who was injured while walking on the sidewalk in the condominium complex where she lived. Evidently, the plaintiff lived in the complex for about ten years. For a good portion of that time, the sidewalk in one specific area was cracked. As time went on, the crack grew larger. One day, the plaintiff tripped and fell while walking over the broken sidewalk.

The plaintiff filed two claims against the condo complex; first, that the complex was negligent in allowing the crack to exist without fixing it. And second, that the complex was negligent for failing to warn residents about the presence of the crack. In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the court dismissed both of the plaintiff’s cases, finding that she knew about the crack and chose to traverse that specific area of the sidewalk nonetheless. The court held that the plaintiff’s decision to do so constituted an “assumption of the risk.”

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.

By some estimates, the District of Columbia gets nearly 19 million tourists per year. By and large, these visitors stay at hotels and homestays across the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. region. Occasionally, a hotel or homeowner fails to take the necessary precautions to make the property safe for visitors, increasing the chance of an accident. When an overnight guest is injured due to the negligence of a hotel or homeowner, the property owner may be held liable through a Washington, D.C premises liability lawsuit.

It is important to keep in mind that many issues can come up in a Washington, D.C. premises liability case. A recent state appellate opinion illustrates a common issue that comes up in hotel slip-and-fall cases. Specifically, the case deals with whether the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to establish that the hazard he claimed caused his fall presented an “unreasonable risk” of harm.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was in town for a sporting event and stayed at the defendant hotel with a friend. While the plaintiff was taking a shower, he slipped and fell, hitting his head. The plaintiff briefly lost consciousness. The plaintiff took pictures of the tub after his fall, and two days later his wife reported the incident to the hotel.

Premises liability is a legal concept that imposes a duty on landowners to keep their property safe for guests. These cases are often referred to as slip-and-fall cases. Often, Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accidents occur at a business or while on government-owned property. However, that is not always the case.

It is not uncommon, however, for someone to be injured while visiting a loved one’s home. Of course, the law does not prevent a person from bringing a claim against a family member. And it is important to remember that homeowner’s insurance will generally cover personal injury claims made against a homeowner. Thus, even if a loved one’s negligence causes a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident in failing to ensure their property is safe, the homeowner will not typically be the one required to pay for any damages suffered by the accident victim.

A recent case illustrates a situation in which an injury victim may choose to pursue a claim against a loved one based on injuries sustained on the loved one’s property.

Continue reading ›

For the most part, the federal governments are responsible for building and maintaining the District’s roads. However, it is not uncommon for a motorist to find themselves on privately constructed and maintained roads. These include parking garages and private residential communities.

If a Maryland or Washington D.C. car accident occurs on a public road, it will be difficult to establish liability against the government unless the government failed to safely maintain the road. This is due to the immunity that governments have from liability. However, when a car accident occurs on private property, the landowner may be liable for the accident victim’s injuries. An example of this would be a private parking garage that is constructed with a blind corner.

A recent case discusses what an accident victim must prove in order to establish liability against a landowner in a car accident case.

Continue reading ›

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the duty a high school owes to its students. The case presents an interesting issue for parents who have a child who was injured at school and are considering filing a Washington, D.C. personal injury case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured while she was using a table saw in woodshop class. Evidently, a piece of wood got stuck in the saw and the plaintiff attempted to free the lodged piece of wood with her hand. However, while trying to unjam the saw, the plaintiff’s hand came into contact with the saw’s blade. As a result of her injuries, the plaintiff’s thumb was amputated.

Apparently, at the time of the accident, the teacher was outside of the shop supervising other students. However, the teacher provided training to all students on how to use the table saw before allowing them to use the saw on their own. The teacher estimated that he watched the plaintiff make at least 60 cuts before the day of her injury.

Continue reading ›

Earlier last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving the question of whether a retail store violated a duty it owed to a customer when it failed to provide the customer with a staged shopping cart. Ultimately, the court concluded that the store’s duty was not defined by its internal operating procedures, and that the store had no obligation to provide the plaintiff with a staged shopping cart. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.

The case presents an important issue that frequently arises in Washington, D.C. premises liability cases. Specifically, whether a landowner has a duty to a visitor, and if so, the extent of that duty.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was an older man who required a cane and an oxygen tank. One day, the plaintiff’s wife dropped him off at the front of the store. The plaintiff went to obtain a shopping cart from the corral of carts near the store’s entrance. Because the shopping carts were stuck together, the plaintiff placed his cane and oxygen tank inside a cart as he tried to separate the carts. However, the plaintiff slipped and fell while trying to separate the carts, sustaining serious injuries as a result.

Continue reading ›

In a recent case, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Virginia premises liability lawsuit addressing a previously unanswered question regarding the duty a vacation home owner owes to short-term guests. The case may prove instructive to homeowners dealing with Washington, D.C. premises liability cases. The court in this case ultimately concluded that the arrangement to rent a vacation home, even for a short period of time, more closely resembles the relationship between a landlord and a tenant than it does an innkeeper and a guest.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendants owned a home in Virginia Beach. The defendants would rent the home out to vacationers between May and October. During those months, the defendants used a property management company to handle the day-to-day duties associated with maintaining the home, including cleaning the house which was only done in between stays. The home was rented fully furnished.

The plaintiff’s family rented the defendants’ vacation home for a week. The plaintiff checked in at the property management office and was provided linens. As the plaintiff was carrying a bin of linens through the house, she tripped on a raised strip of wood that was used as a transition between carpet and tile. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff seriously injured her elbow, which later required two surgeries.

Continue reading ›

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important doctrine of law called res ipsa loquitor. The court’s discussion of res ipsa loquitor is important for Maryland personal injury victims to understand because Maryland also employs the doctrine in certain situations.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured when she was exiting an elevator. Evidently, the elevator doors unexpectedly and repeatedly closed on the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the condo association where her injuries occurred, relying on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.

The Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor

Res ipsa loquitor is a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself.” The legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitor allows for a fact-finder to infer negligence against a party that is in sole control of an instrumentality that malfunctions and causes injury to another. Thus, when res ipsa loquitor applies, a plaintiff can rely on the inference of negligence rather than presenting evidence on what caused their injuries.

Continue reading ›

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a ski resort could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries that occurred while she was snowboarding. The case presents interesting issues for Washington, D.C. accident victims who have been injured while engaging in a recreational activity such as skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, bicycling, or any other outdoor activity that takes place on another’s property with their permission.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a season-pass holder at the defendant ski resort. Prior to obtaining her season pass, the plaintiff signed a liability-release from, acknowledging certain inherent risks associated with skiing and snowboarding “posed by variations in terrain and snow conditions, . . . unmarked obstacles, . . . devices, . . . and other hazards whether they are obvious or not. . . collisions with natural and man-made objects, including . . . snow making equipment, snowmobiles and other over-snow vehicles.” The waiver also contained a clause agreeing not to hold the ski resort liable for injuries caused by its own negligence.

Evidently, on her last run of the day, the plaintiff collided with a snow-cat, which is a large vehicle that grooms ski runs, making them smoother and more enjoyable to ski on. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the ski resort.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information