Slip and Fall Accidents
Our Law Firm Stands Up For Your Rights
People slip and fall and injure themselves far more often than many people might realize. Among the elderly, slip and fall accidents are among the most common personal injury accidents. And when these accidents occur, they often result in very serious injuries.
Slip-and-fall accidents are a leading cause of injury in the United States. Each year, thousands of people are injured in accidents that occur when premises are not properly maintained and managed. Depending on the type of property (residential or commercial), a property owner's responsibility ranges from clearing the snow in the parking lot, to ensuring that there is a trained lifeguard on-duty at an apartment swimming pool, to making sure that there are warning signs out for wet floors and other hazards, which the owner or property management knows about, but may not be immediately visible to guests and others on the premises.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident because of a property owner's negligence, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney. Maryland slip and fall accident lawyer Stuart L. Plotnick and his talented legal team at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC have handled numerous personal injury cases in Montgomery County and surrounding areas. There's no substitute for experience, no substitute for success.
Why Do These Accidents Happen?
"Slip and fall injury" or "trip and fall injury" is the generic term for an injury that occurs when someone slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else's property. In general, slip and fall accidents happen due to the reckless or negligent actions of other people or companies who own or maintain the areas inside or around a residential or commercial building. They do not correct or warn of a danger that they should have fixed. More specifically, such accidents might occur due to:
- Spilled water left on floors in restaurants, stores and other public places
- Ice-covered sidewalks
- Unmarked obstacles, including objects left in hallways or on sidewalks
- Uneven stairs and loose railings
- Poorly lit public spaces
- Cracks or holes in a surface
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your slip and fall accident, don't simply assume that you will automatically be compensated for your injuries. Contact our law firm and learn more about all your legal options.
Duty to Maintain a Safe Property
Property owners have a duty to use reasonable care when maintaining their premises, striving to ensure the safety of anyone using their property. If an owner discovers unsafe or dangerous conditions on their premises, they should take swift action to repair them, and warn visitors in the meantime. If not, the injured victim can pursue compensation through a premises liability lawsuit.
Landlords, employers, shopping malls, property managers, homeowners, elevator companies, local governments, and mass transit authorities can all be responsible for injuries on property if they do not take proper precautions to protect visitors to the property. In many cases a local, city, state or federal government may be at fault if the injury occurs on public property it controls.
Duty to Inspect
Not only does the property owner or landlord have a duty to correct hazards or warn people about them, they must also regularly inspect the property to stay on top of any unsafe conditions. The owner or occupier has a duty to repair, replace, correct, or give proper warning of any condition that could harm others. For example, store owners are responsible for regularly inspecting store aisles because of the danger of merchandise falling to the floor and creating a hazard for customers. The same store owner has a duty to inspect the aisles and walkways to ensure that no dangerous conditions exist that could lead to a fall. Failure to make these reasonable inspections may make the owner liable for any injuries caused by unaddressed hazards.
Types and Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can occur in a variety of locations, including stores, schools, apartment buildings, garages or parking lots, and more. Some of the most common types of slip and fall accidents involve:
- Snow or ice left untreated or uncleared
- Wet or greasy substances on floors
- Uneven or broken sidewalks
- Poor or bad lighting of walkways or parking lots
- Construction sites with debris lying around or unmarked hazards
- Unrepaired potholes
- Inadequate or broken handrails, stairs or flooring
- Public swimming pools and other surfaces without adequate slip-resistant materials
- Apparatus such as jungle gyms, swing sets, and trampolines which are attractive to children
What Should I Do if I Am Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you have been injured on someone else's property, you should complete an accident report at the time of the incident, making note of what happened, who witnessed the accident and the conditions that caused the fall. Take photos of the area as soon after the accident occurred as possible. Use your cell phone!
If you were physically hurt, seek immediate medical attention. If you delay seeking treatment, the property owner may argue that it was not their negligence that caused your injury, but something else that occurred between the time of your accident and your visit to the doctor.
If a report is not completed at the location or scene of the accident – or if the accident was not observed by others – take the time to write down your recollection of what happened as soon as you possibly can. Information you document immediately after the accident is by nature much more accurate than information gathered later on, when your memory is not as fresh.
Be sure to include information such as:
- Date and time the fall down accident occurred
- A description of the circumstances surrounding the accident, such as water or grease on the floor, and whether or not any warning signs were present notifying patrons of the hazard.
- Contact information for who was present at the time the accident occurred, and a written record of the comments made by those who witnessed the fall or helped afterwards
- Description of the lighting at or around the scene
- Weather conditions (if the accident occurred outdoors)
- Taking pictures of the hazard and the scene of the accident can be crucial to a slip-and-fall injury claim. The owner or manager of the property may also have video or surveillance cameras that record the event. Getting to this early by notifying the owner that it must preserve this information is critical.
- Accident or Incident Report: Usually, it is a store or business's policy to require an accident report be made concerning this incident – it is not mandated by law. No matter what the store's policy is, however, completing a timely accident report and taking pictures is the most beneficial for all involved parties, but be careful not to provide incorrect or other information which may hurt your case.
Knowing what to do after a slip and fall accident can be confusing. Many injury victims aren't even sure what their rights are or if they can pursue financial compensation for their injuries. That's why it's important to speak with a lawyer familiar with such cases as soon as possible after your accident.
Contributory Negligence and Assumption of Risk:
Even though a property owner has a duty to keep his premises safe, at the same time, a person on the premises has a duty to look out for their own safety. If the victim knows or should know of the danger before the slip or trip, they will lose their case because they did not adequately protect themselves. You have to look where you are walking. So the person who decides to walk on ice or is looking at his cellphone at the time they step in that hole may very well lose their case, because paying attention to what was ahead or taking a different path could have saved them from the accident.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Evidence builds strong legal cases. Without proof that the property owner knew about the hazardous situation or had a sufficient amount of time to discover the danger and in turn warn others about or correct it, you will likely have a very hard time getting the money you rightfully deserve for your slip and fall accident.
Attorney Plotnick worked as a lawyer for the insurance companies before he founded his own private practice representing victims. As a result, he knows how insurance companies think and what evidence they're looking for when determining whether or not to compensate a slip and fall accident victim.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident because of a property owner's negligence in Rockville, Bethesda, Wheaton or any of the greater areas of Maryland, Virginia, or Washington D.C., please contact the Law Offices of Maryland slip and fall attorney Stuart L. Plotnick today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced slip and fall lawyers. We can help you obtain the compensation you need to fully recover from your injuries.