How Does the Contributory Negligence Law Impact Slip and Fall Cases?
People slip and fall every day. Most of the time, they don’t suffer any serious injuries and there’s no one to blame. They may fall at home or slip on a wet sidewalk on a rainy day. However, if you slipped and fell on someone else’s premises and suffered injuries, you need to know your options. Slip and fall cases often result in broken bones, cuts and bruises, sprained ankles and wrists, spine and nerve damage, and head injuries. You may be entitled to compensation. However, you will need to prove that the property owner’s negligence contributed to the accident. Whether you opt to pursue compensation by filing an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit, a number of rules will affect your claim. In addition to the three-year statute of limitations, you’ll also need to be aware of Maryland’s contributory negligence doctrine. Both of these factors can limit your ability to claim compensation. If you need help handling your accident, call a local Maryland slip and fall attorney for help.
What’s Contributory Negligence?If you’ve never been involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you may not have heard this term before. However, you need to know about it if you intend to seek compensation for your slip and fall injuries. If you contributed to your injuries in any way, the defendant can use this to prevent you from getting compensation. This means that you should be prepared for the property owner to argue that you were responsible for your injuries. This can happen in any jurisdiction but it’s especially important in Maryland. Most states practice what is called comparative negligence. If the plaintiff shares some of the blame, they can still claim compensation. However, the amount they can get is reduced by their percentage of fault. If they were deemed 30 percent at fault, they would get 30 percent less than they would otherwise get. Defendant use this law to reduce the amount they have to pay. In contrast, Maryland practices pure contributory negligence. This is a much harsher system. You won’t be able to get any compensation at all if you’re found to share any of the blame. You and your Maryland slip and fall attorney will have to present strong evidence to prove that you had no role to play. Otherwise, you could be left to handle your medical bills and other losses on your own. If your injuries were serious, you could be facing high medical expenses, lots of time away from work and a long recovery period. You, therefore, need to do everything possible to get the compensation you deserve.
How Property Owners Try to Evade Liability in Slip and Fall CasesThe property owner, their insurance company and their lawyer can try a variety of things. Remember, they just need to shift a tiny portion of the blame on you to get out of compensating you. They may try to convince the court that:
- You were wearing inappropriate or unsafe shoes
- You entered an area of the property where visitors aren’t expected to go or where they aren’t usually allowed.
- You were walking and texting or otherwise not looking to see where you were going.
- It should have been obvious that the conditions were dangerous.
- The dangerous area was cordoned off by sign and/or cones.