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Approaching Slip and Fall Cases

We approach slip and fall cases very carefully because in Maryland these cases are very difficult to win. Maryland is one of the few states that follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, meaning that if someone is found even one percent at fault for the injury, then they won’t be able to recover. The difficulty in that is that if someone slips on something, they have to be sure that there is no reason why they might have slipped on it. That means that if someone falls in a big puddle or something and they are found liable because they should have seen it, they won’t be able to recover. They would want to figure out who owns the building and who maintains the building. If those are two different people, then they need to figure out who is responsible for the defect.

What are the first things that you look at in a slip and fall case?

We want to identify as many parties who were responsible for the slip and fall as possible. I want to identify the owner and the person who maintains or runs the premises. I also want to find out if there were any independent contractors who either performed work poorly or improperly that led to the cause of the damaged or defective event that caused an injury. If it’s a snow and ice case, I would want to find out if there is a contractor who was supposed to take care of the snow and ice but didn’t do what they were supposed to do in a timely or effective manner. If, for example, there was a delivery of ice or frozen products and it caused water to remain on the floor, I would want to find out who made that delivery. I would want to find out whether the incident was reported, whether anyone saw it, and whether there is any video surveillance of the accident or of the premises that would speak to what happened, when it happened, what was done to prevent it, who saw it, and what procedures were followed in order to avoid or prevent the accident.

What are the first questions that you ask a client in a slip and fall case?

We would ask them how the accident happened and what they were doing at the time of their slip and/or fall. I would also ask them whether or not they reported it, and, if they did, who they spoke to, when they spoke to them, and what conversations were had. I would ask them whether they saw anything around. It depends on what type of accident it is. At first, I try to pinpoint what it was that caused them to have an accident or fall. I try to identify anything on the premises that the defendants could be held liable for, be it a cracked floor, something on the floor, or snow and ice. I want to pin down what was wrong with the premises that caused the injury.

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