Proving a Defendant’s Knowledge of a Hazard in a Washington, D.C. Slip and Fall Lawsuit

In a Maryland slip and fall case, a plaintiff has the burden of proving several elements before they are entitled to recover for their injuries.  Maryland slip and fall victims must prove that a dangerous condition existed, that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition, and that the defendant had knowledge in enough time for the opportunity to remove the condition or to warn the plaintiff. This means that a plaintiff generally has the burden of proving what the defendant actually knew —  or what the defendant should have known, given the surrounding circumstances. Thus, the knowledge requirement can be broken down into actual knowledge and constructive knowledge.

If a plaintiff claims the defendant had constructive knowledge, they must show how long the dangerous condition was present before their fall. If a plaintiff fails to prove that the defendant created or knew of the dangerous condition, or that it existed long enough so that the defendant should have known about it, the defendant is entitled to summary judgment.

In a recent appellate opinion, the court dismissed a slip and fall case against a grocery store after a woman slipped and fell while shopping. The woman claimed that she fell on a liquid on the floor while she was at the store that appeared to be from a squished grape. The store argued that there was no evidence that the store had actual or constructive knowledge that there was any liquid on the floor. The woman claimed that there was a dispute over whether the liquid was on the floor long enough that the store should have been aware of the substance.

In this case, the court held that there were no disputed factual issues about the store’s knowledge of the liquid. Neither of the woman’s two witnesses noticed any footprints or cart tracks through the liquid. A store employee stated in an affidavit that the store trained him to look for hazardous conditions and to address them immediately. He passed by the area where the woman fell about 13 minutes before the woman’s fall, and the area appeared clean, dry, and free from debris. He had also passed three other times before that in the 30 minutes before the woman fell. Therefore, no other customer observed the liquid, the employee did not see the liquid, and there was no evidence of cart tracks or other footprints through the liquid. Thus, in this case, there were no facts to suggest that the grape and the liquid were present for long enough that the store should have been aware of their presence.

Have You Been Injured in a Slip and Fall?

If you have been injured in a Maryland slip and fall accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer that can assess the viability of your claim. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, have successfully represented plaintiffs that have been injured in all types of slip and fall accidents. They will not recover a fee unless you win your case. If you have been injured in a slip and fall in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C., call to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at 800-654-1949.

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