By some estimates, the District of Columbia gets nearly 19 million tourists per year. By and large, these visitors stay at hotels and homestays across the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. region. Occasionally, a hotel or homeowner fails to take the necessary precautions to make the property safe for visitors, increasing the chance of an accident. When an overnight guest is injured due to the negligence of a hotel or homeowner, the property owner may be held liable through a Washington, D.C premises liability lawsuit.
It is important to keep in mind that many issues can come up in a Washington, D.C. premises liability case. A recent state appellate opinion illustrates a common issue that comes up in hotel slip-and-fall cases. Specifically, the case deals with whether the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to establish that the hazard he claimed caused his fall presented an “unreasonable risk” of harm.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was in town for a sporting event and stayed at the defendant hotel with a friend. While the plaintiff was taking a shower, he slipped and fell, hitting his head. The plaintiff briefly lost consciousness. The plaintiff took pictures of the tub after his fall, and two days later his wife reported the incident to the hotel.
The plaintiff’s wife claimed that the hotel manager told her over the phone that the room should not have been rented to her husband because it was being renovated. The manager also allegedly said to her that the tub in the room did not have anti-slip strips. However, the manager testified that he did not tell the plaintiff’s wife that there were no anti-slip strips. In addition, the hotel presented several witnesses who testified that the anti-slip strips could be seen in the photographs taken by the plaintiff after the accident. The witnesses explained that long dark streaks along the floor of the shower were anti-slip strips that had become discolored over time but were still functional.
The hotel moved for summary judgment, arguing that that plaintiff was unable to refute the hotel’s evidence indicating that the anti-slip strips did not wear out over time. In granting the defendant’s motion, the court implicitly determined that the tub actually had anti-slip strips. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court was mistaken when it assumed the existence of the anti-slip strips, and the court agreed. The court explained that the defendant’s evidence suggesting that the photograph showed anti-slip strips was contradicted by the plaintiff’s testimony that there were no anti-slip strips, as well as the testimony of his wife regarding her discussion with the hotel manager. Because the existence of the anti-slip strips was in question, the appellate court determined that the lower court erred when it based its decision on plaintiff’s inability to prove that the anti-slip strips wore out over time.
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, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have over two decades of experience assisting clients and their families pursue claims for compensation based on the injuries they have sustained. We handle all types of personal injury cases across the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. areas, including premises liability claims, car accidents cases and wrongful death claims. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 410-654-3600 today.