Can Weather Conditions Impact My Slip And Fall Claim?

The weather has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives. We’ve all had that vacation at the beach ruined by rain. Kids love it when snow cancels school for the day. It can turn our commute to work into a nightmare. And it can be the cause of a serious slip and fall injury. 

If you are on the property of a business or someone else’s property and you fall and suffer an injury because of their negligence, you might be entitled to compensation. Let’s look at the property owner’s responsibilities and your own responsibilities in such a situation.

Owner’s Responsibilities To You

There are degrees of responsibility owed to others by businesses and property owners, depending upon why you were on the property in the first place.

  • Business Owners: The highest degree of responsibility is on them when you are welcomed onto their property to conduct business, such as stores, salons, and public properties such as parks. The owner must maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition, warn visitors of any unsafe conditions, and remedy such hazards in a reasonable time frame.
  • Licensees: They are owed the next highest degree of responsibility. This includes guests paying social visits, and people with implied permission to be on the property, such as delivery drivers.
  • Trespassers: You might think a property owner would have no duty to a person who was not invited onto the property. They might have no idea the person was even there. There is a duty, however, to ensure there are no unreasonable hazards on the property.

One of the most common weather-related conditions is the water on the floor of a business. A visitor comes in from the rain with wet shoes and a dripping umbrella. The owner should take such measures as putting up a wet floor sign, laying down a mat by the door, and perhaps, providing wet umbrella covers at the entrance. Then, the owner has a duty to mop up any puddles as soon as possible. Another common hazardous condition is an icy walkway or parking lot. The owner might block off the icy patch or provide a way to get around it. And the owner should most definitely put down salt or ice melt. Remember, we said the business owner has a duty when they should have known there was an unsafe condition; anyone should be able to anticipate both of these scenarios.

Your Responsibilities

The property owner will do their best to put the blame on you. Maryland, Virginia, and DC have a rule called contributory negligence. This means that if the owner can prove you are at least partially responsible for your accident, you will not be entitled to compensation. 

Therefore, there are actions you are reasonably expected to take on someone else’s property: pay attention, use caution, and respect the owner’s property. Yet even if you do everything right, you might still fall. In that case, you will want to collect evidence, just as you would in any other personal injury accident.

If you are seriously injured, seek medical treatment immediately. After you notify the manager, you should take the following steps, if you are able :         

  • Photograph the scene. Try to take photos from different angles. Show what caused you to fall and any warning signs that were, or were not, there at the time. 
  • Ask about security cameras. It seems as if there are cameras everywhere nowadays, so these tapes can be very helpful. Ask to see the videos, but if the business refuses, take steps to prevent them from destroying the tapes, such as a written letter of notice asking them to preserve the video.
  • Take witness statements. Be sure to get their names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails. Ask them for a brief statement if they are cooperative, and jot it down or record it on your phone, with their permission.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. You might think you’re not injured at the time, but some injuries could become apparent later. Seeing a doctor, clinic, or hospital will establish a record of the incident and your injuries.

We Are Here To Help

It’s important for you to protect yourself following a slip and fall accident in Maryland, Virginia, or DC. The insurance companies and the property owners make the process stressful, because they will look for ways to derail your claim by arguing that you are responsible for what happened to you. The owners have duties to their customers, however, and these may be heightened under the weather conditions.

An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through interactions with property owners and their insurance companies. At Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, we have decades of experience in personal injury cases. Contact us at (571) 532-9070 or online for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.