Court Permits Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case to Proceed Toward Trial, Based on Improperly Maintained Artificial Condition

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.

In 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.

Later that day, the plaintiff returned with her brother to pick up the trailer. This time, the plaintiff entered the store through the main entrance. She paid for the repairs and then walked out the main door, made a left, and walked around to the west side of the building, where the trailer was parked. However, as the plaintiff rounded the corner of the building, she slipped and fell where the pavement stopped and a strip of gravel began. The plaintiff suffered a broken leg in the fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the tire shop.

The evidence showed that the tire shop placed the gravel on the slightly sloped ground directly outside the west side of the shop. The gravel was placed to allow for water to drain away from the building. There was approximately a quarter-inch drop from the pavement to the gravel surface.

The plaintiff presented an expert witness who spent 35 years as a building inspector. The inspector prepared a five-page report, concluding that the tire shop violated building codes in placing the gravel on a sloped area. Furthermore, the tire shop had failed to place a sign warning customers to stay off the gravel or some physical barrier preventing customers from walking across the gravel.

Taking all of the evidence into account, the court ultimately determined that the plaintiff did raise an issue of fact as to whether the tire shop violated a duty of care it owed to the plaintiff, who was a customer of the shop. As a result, the plaintiff’s case will proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

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 team of Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers has extensive experience representing victims in a wide range of personal injury cases, including slip-and-fall claims. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Dismissed for Failure to Establish the Defendant Landowner Knew of the Hazard that Caused Her Fall, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 23, 2017

Court Finds Church Does Not Have Duty to Assist Parishioners from Parking Lot into Church, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 4, 2017

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