Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an important issue that comes up often in Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuits. The case required the court to discuss the plaintiff’s own knowledge of the hazard that caused his injuries, and whether the plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard should defeat his claim against the defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff should have known about the dangers involved in moving a piece of broken glass, and it dismissed his claim.
The Facts of the Case
The defendant was a homeowner who hired the plaintiff to perform some handyman work around his home. The defendant asked the plaintiff to remove a mirror from the basement that had been glued to the wooden framing along the wall. The defendant and the plaintiff decided the best way to remove the mirror would be to use a pry bar to pry the mirror off the wooden boards.
As the plaintiff pried the mirror from the boards, the mirror broke into several sharp pieces. The plaintiff was moving the glass shards out to the trash when the glass sliced his wrist, severing his ligaments.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant homeowner. In response, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff should be precluded from recovering compensation for his injuries because the plaintiff knew of the risks involved in carrying the pieces of broken glass. The plaintiff argued that the defendant, as the person who originally hung the mirror, knew that it was glued to the boards and that it could potentially break when the plaintiff attempted to remove it.
The court determined that the plaintiff and the defendant each possessed equal knowledge of the harms involved, and therefore the plaintiff could not bring a premises liability claim against the defendant. The court explained that, in order to succeed in a premises liability action, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant had superior knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Here, that was determined not to be the case.
Washington, D.C. Premises Liability Law
Washington, D.C. does not require that a premises liability plaintiff establish that the defendant had a greater knowledge of the hazard. However, a plaintiff may be precluded from recovering compensation for their injuries if the condition that caused their injuries is determined to be “obvious.” Similarly, if the plaintiff is found to be at fault for their own injuries, recovery will not be permitted.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience handling all types of personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall claims. We accept cases across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Appellate Court Determines Teacher Was Immune from Liability in Recent Failure-to-Supervise Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 16, 2018
Court Rejects Insurance Company’s Denial of Golf Cart Injury Claim, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2018