Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Accidents

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring that the court determine if the trial judge properly granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in the plaintiff’s premises liability lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s testimony created a genuine issue of material fact, necessitating a jury trial. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion.

shelf-1853439_960_720-300x200The case is important for Washington, D.C. personal injury victims because it illustrates the summary judgment standard, as well as the evidence necessary to survive this type of challenge by the defense.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was shopping at the defendant hardware store when he caught sight of a heavy object out of the corner of his eye falling to the ground. The object made contact with the back of the plaintiff’s leg, causing him to fall and sustain serious injuries.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raised an important issue that often comes up in Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuits. The case presented the court with the issue of whether a plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall was fatal to her claim. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard precluded any liability on the defendant shop-owner’s part.

Leaking SpigotThe Facts of the Case

On a cold January morning, the plaintiff was running an errand for her employer which required her to pick up an order at the defendant’s shop. The plaintiff arrived at the shop and as she approached the front door, noticed that there was a puddle of water on the pavement at the base of the stairs leading up to the entrance. The plaintiff then noticed that there was a spigot that had been left open and was dripping, resulting in a slippery hazard.

The plaintiff made it by the icy patch and up the stairs, at which point she informed an employee of the puddle. The employee explained that someone had left the spigot open so the pipes wouldn’t freeze, and instructed the plaintiff to exit out a set of rolling doors along the side of the building. However, the employee told the plaintiff not to let anyone else know that he permitted her to leave through that door, because it could result in him being fired.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that presented an interesting issue that will be relevant for many Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident victims. The case discusses the threshold issue in many premises liability cases, specifically, the quantum of evidence necessary to survive a defense summary judgment challenge.

Grocery CartsSummary Judgment

Generally speaking, summary judgment is a process by which a party asks a court to make a legal determination based on the pleadings. Essentially, when a party asks the court to grant a motion for summary judgment, the party is claiming that by looking at the uncontested evidence, the other party cannot prevail as a matter of law. Importantly, summary judgment is not appropriate when the opposing party can establish that there is a contested material fact.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was shopping with her husband at the defendant grocery store. The couple put several bottles of juice in their cart, and then the plaintiff separated from her husband to find a restroom.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a defendant grocery store’s claim that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it did not have knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The case is important to Washington, D.C. accident victims as well because this type of defense commonly arises in Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accidents.

Grocery Store AisleThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was at a grocery store shopping for garden supplies when she slipped and fell in one of the store’s aisles. While the plaintiff did not notice anything on the floor initially, when she got up, she noticed that she had stepped in a puddle of water. Neither the plaintiff nor the store employee who came to assist her could locate the source of the water initially, but it was later determined that the water came from a carpet-cleaning machine kiosk.

The kiosk was owned and operated by the company that rented the machines. The agreement between the grocery store and the carpet-cleaning machine rental company allowed for the placement of the kiosk, and in return, the grocery store would be entitled to a share of the revenue brought in by the rentals. While other grocery stores with similar kiosks asked to be trained in how to operate the kiosks, this particular grocery store never asked to receive any training.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a slip-and-fall case discussing what has come to be known as the “continuing storm doctrine.” The case is important for Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident victims because the principle behind the continuing storm doctrine has been codified into Maryland law under DC Code § 9-601.

Gas PumpThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a shuttle driver for an assisted living facility. One day, while he was driving the shuttle, he stopped to get gas at the defendant gas station. At the time, it was lightly raining, and the temperature was fluctuating around freezing.

As the plaintiff exited the shuttle, he slipped on a thin layer of ice that had formed on the pavement. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the gas station. The plaintiff claimed that the gas station was negligent for failing to clear the ice hazard in the gas station parking area.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a slip-and-fall accident that took place outside a tire shop. The case is relevant to Washington, D.C. premises liability plaintiffs because it illustrates the type of analysis that courts will use when determining if a plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to submit the case to a jury.

TiresIn this case, the court concluded that, while it was a “close question,” the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact, and thus summary judgment in favor of the defendant landowner was inappropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff dropped a trailer off at the defendant tire shop to have the tires replaced. The plaintiff and her brother walked into the store through the side entrance, arranged to have the repairs completed, and left the same way they had entered.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Connecticut issued a written opinion that will be of interest to those considering filing a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether a lower court was proper to enter judgment in favor of the plaintiff under the specific facts present in the case. Ultimately, the appellate court concluded that the plaintiff did present sufficient evidence to warrant a finding in her favor. As a result, the defendant hospital’s appeal was dismissed.

Rough SidewalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting a family member at the defendant hospital. After her visit, the plaintiff was walking out of the hospital when she stubbed her toe on a piece of broken pavement on the sidewalk. The plaintiff fell to the ground, and it was later determined that she had broken her toe in the accident. She also suffered lower back pain as a result of the fall.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the hospital, claiming that the hospital was negligent in safely maintaining the sidewalk area and that the hospital’s failure to do so resulted in her injuries. The parties opted to have the case decided by a judge, rather than by a jury, and after hearing the evidence, the court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The court determined that the plaintiff’s injuries were approximately $180,000; however, since the court also determined that the plaintiff was 40% responsible for her injuries, the award was reduced by that percentage to a total award amount of approximately $108,000.

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In order for a plaintiff to succeed in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall case, she must be able to show that the property owner either created the hazard that caused her fall or knew about the hazard but failed to take any corrective action. If a plaintiff is unable to present the court with some evidence of the property owner’s knowledge, the case will most often get dismissed in a pre-trial motion for summary judgment.

Wet FloorEarlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case illustrating the difficulties that plaintiffs may encounter when attempting to prove a property owner’s knowledge of the hazard that caused a fall.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a customer at the defendant restaurant. At the time, the plaintiff was recovering from a recent surgery on her heel, and she was walking with the assistance of crutches. During her meal, the plaintiff got up to use the restroom. In order to access the restroom, customers had to walk past the restaurant’s kitchen. As the plaintiff walked past the kitchen, she slipped on the wet floor.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a case brought by a railroad worker who was injured while on the job. The case required the court to decide if the injured worker presented enough evidence to justify the jury’s verdict in his favor. Ultimately, the court concluded that the injured worker did present at least some evidence that the employer was negligent, and therefore the jury’s verdict was ordered to stand. The case is important for Maryland personal injury plaintiffs because it shows one exception to the general rule that an injured employee cannot file a personal injury case against his employer.

RailroadEmployer Liability and Workers’ Compensation

Generally, employers are not liable for injuries sustained by employees while on the job beyond the remedies that can be obtained through the workers’ compensation program. However, in some limited circumstances, an employer may be held liable through a personal injury lawsuit. Importantly, if the employee was injured due to the negligence of a third party, the injured employee can file a personal injury lawsuit against that party without prohibition.

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was enacted back in 1908 to protect railroad workers. The Act allows for injured railroad workers to file claims against their employers, similar to the workers’ compensation program. However, unlike the workers’ compensation program, FELA requires an injured employee to establish that his employer was at fault. As long as the employee is not found to be 100% at fault, the employee can prevail in a claim in state or federal court.

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Earlier this year, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that required the court to discuss the state’s recreational-use statute and determine if the defendant, a government entity, was entitled to immunity. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff failed to establish that an exception to the general grant of immunity applied, and therefore the government entity was determined to be immune from liability.

FireworksThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was attending a July 4th celebration at a park that was owned and operated by the defendant city. The plaintiff arrived at the park by car and parked in a designated parking space. At the border of the parking lot were large vertical poles used to designate the parking area. These poles had holes at the top so that cables could be run through, connecting the poles. While on the day of the plaintiff’s injury there were no cables running through the poles, there were diagonal crossbars present used as support beams.

As the plaintiff exited her vehicle, she negotiated her way around the poles without incident. The plaintiff attended the firework display. However, on the way back to her car, she tripped on one of the diagonal support bars connecting the poles. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city, arguing that the poles and the attached support beams constituted a dangerous hazard and that the city should have warned park-goers.

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