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.”