The Various Theories of Recovery in a Premises Liability Case

Premises liability lawsuits, more commonly known as slip-and-fall cases, are based on the legal theory of negligence. Essentially, these claims rely on the the duty that a landowner or occupier owes to those people who are invited onto its land. Historically, there have been three classes of “guests”:  invitees, licensees, and trespassers.

Invitees are owed the highest duty from landowners. Most commonly, invitees are customers of a business. Licensees are the next-most protected group, and they consist of social guests. Finally, trespassers are owed the most minimal duty, and generally this only requires that a landowner not employ traps or other devices to intentionally harm the trespasser.

Theories of Recovery Available to Premises Liability Plaintiffs

When someone is injured on the land of another, they may file a lawsuit against the landowner. The duty owed to the plaintiff will depend on their classification above. Once the plaintiff’s status is determined, the court will then determine if the defendant violated that duty of care. This can result in one or more of several available claims. A recent premises liability case arising out of a slip-and-fall accident outside a hotel illustrates several potential theories of liability.

Alcala v. Marriott International

Alcala was a business traveler who was staying at a Marriott hotel for a few days while visiting a client. One day during her stay, she was on her way out to visit the client, and she slipped on a patch of ice that had accumulated outside one of the hotel’s main doors. Alcala sued Marriott based on several theories.

Failure to Train

Alcala claimed that the employee on duty at the time of the accident was not properly trained on how to safely clear a sidewalk. In fact, the employee testified that she was unaware that too much deicing agent can actually have the opposite effect, causing an icy buildup.

Failure to Maintain and Inspect

Alcala also claimed that Marriott was negligent in failing to keep the walkway clear because the company either did not visually inspect the walkway or failed to do anything to cure the icy conditions.

Failure to Use Slip-Resistant Material in the Walkway’s Construction

Finally, Alcala also claimed that the walkway itself was not safely created, in that the material of which it was made was not up to industry standards.

In the end, the jury did find in favor of Alcala and awarded her $1.2 million in damages for her broken ankle. However, since there were some issues with the judge’s instructions to the jury on two of the four theories presented, and the jury failed to specify the theory under which the defendant was negligent, a new trial was ordered.

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 Maryland or Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As you can see, there are several alternative theories under which you may be entitled to compensation, depending on your case. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience representing clients in all kinds of accidents, including slip-and-fall cases. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Determining Fault in Multi-Party Washington, D.C. Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, June 9, 2016

Motions for Summary Judgment in Washington, D.C. Courts, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, May 9, 2016

Contact Information