Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Stemming from Slip-and-Fall at Doctor’s Office

For a plaintiff to succeed in a personal injury case, they must be able to establish that the defendant’s negligence resulted in their injuries. In the context of a Washington, D.C. premises liability case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant was aware of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries and failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the hazard.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability case discussing whether a plaintiff’s claim against a doctor’s office could proceed. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not establish that the office knew of the hazard before the plaintiff’s fall and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was walking near a desk at the defendant doctor’s office when she felt something grab her pant leg. The plaintiff fell to the ground. While on the ground, the plaintiff noticed a wheelchair nearby that was leaned up against a desk. The plaintiff did not see what caused her to fall, but assumed it was the wheelchair.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the doctor’s office. In response, the office moved for summary judgment, arguing that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the plaintiff failed to present any evidence that any employee of the office was aware of the wheelchair and the hazard it presented. In support of its position, the office presented the testimony of a desk attendant who came to the plaintiff’s assistance after her fall. The desk attendant explained that the wheelchair was not present when he left the desk to help the plaintiff, but that he noticed it for the first time when he returned. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the defendant appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision, finding in favor of the defendant doctor’s office. The court explained that the plaintiff presented no evidence to contradict the desk attendant’s testimony that the wheelchair was not leaning up against the desk before the plaintiff fell. The court noted that the plaintiff testified that she did not see the wheelchair before her fall and that she only noticed the wheelchair after she had fallen. This, the court explained, was consistent with the desk attendant’s testimony, and failed to show that the office knew of the wheelchair’s presence or the danger it presented.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have a long history of representing injury victims in a wide range of cases across the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. We offer free consultations to accident victims to discuss their options and how we can help. To schedule your free consultation today, call 410-654-3600.

More Blog Posts:

Court Rejects Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Claim Against Big-Box Retailer in Recent Personal Injury Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 16, 2018

The Expert Witness Standard in Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Cases, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2018

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