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Bowie Slip and Fall Lawyer
A slip and fall case distinguishes itself from a typical car accident case in several ways. The biggest reason for this is the type of defendant. If you slip and fall at a grocery store in Bowie, there is a good chance that the grocery store has adequate insurance or assets to cover your damages. Meanwhile, if you are injured in a truck accident, the driver may not even have insurance.
Slip and Fall Accidents Can Happen To Anyone
When you are on the road, you know that many things are out of your control and the potential for severe injuries. But when you are in a grocery store or a restaurant, you may be less alert for potential hazards. Additionally, this is something that is out of your control. If you are older, you are more susceptible to hazardous conditions. You are more vulnerable if you are tired from a long workday and decide to stop at the grocery store. On the other hand, you can be in excellent physical condition but still fall victim to a slip and fall.
The idea behind a slip and fall is that it is not an obvious hazard. In fact, you likely do not have a claim if it is an overtly obvious danger. Particularly if the hazard is in an unlit area, how could you know to expect a slippery surface? While it would be unreasonable to place the burden on you in that instance, the question becomes whether the owner of the premises is liable.
Proving Liability in a Bowie Slip and Fall Case
In a Friend’s House
In a friend’s house, where you are a welcome guest, you are a licensee for legal purposes. What is a licensee? A licensee enters onto land with the owner’s permission for their purpose or business rather than for the landowner’s benefit. A licensor has less of a duty than does a business towards guests. The licensor owes a duty to warn of or make safe, dangerous conditions known to the licensor that creates an unreasonable risk of harm. Notably, this must be a risk that the licensee is unlikely to discover independently. These are the rules of law in place in Bowie, Maryland.
In simpler terms, a licensee is an invited social guest. The homeowner has no duty to inspect for hazardous conditions or repair known hazards. However, they must warn of a known hazard if it is not already apparent to a social guest. For example, if you invite your friends to your home and know that opening a cabinet door will cause things to fall out and hit someone in the face, you do not warn your licensees. If those licensees do open the cabinet and get seriously injured, you may be liable. This is partially because you knew about the hazardous conditions but didn’t tell them. It is not because you did not repair the hazard; you do not have to do so in your home. But, because it is a nonobvious hazard, you are exposed to liability.
In a Store or Restaurant
An invitee enters the premises in response to an express or implied invitation. In the case of a retail store or restaurant, the guests would be business invitees. These business invitees can lose their invitee status if they exceed the scope of the invitation. An invitee may go into a portion of a store that the invitation cannot reasonably be said to extend. For example, if you enter a clothing store to meet a friend and shop around for a few minutes. After a while, you see something interesting behind the counter next to the cash register, so you walk around the counter behind the register. It cannot reasonably be said that your invitation to an open retail store allowed you to go behind the cash register area. Thus, the store will not be liable for a slip and fall in that section if you get injured.
A store must use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the property safe for invitees. This covers the same duty owed to licensees but includes a duty to make reasonable inspections to discover and repair dangerous conditions. Let’s say a business becomes aware of a hazardous condition, either by someone in the store informing them or by reasonable inspection. In this case, there are two defenses available to the store. First, the store may state that they warned the invitee. A yellow “wet floor” sign may suffice for a slippery surface. That is why they are common in many hotels, restaurants, and stores. Second, the obviousness of the danger is an important consideration. If a danger is so apparent, there is no sense for the business to warn you. You would be found contributorily negligent yourself for not avoiding it.
Documenting a Slip And Fall
Any Bowie personal injury lawyer will advise you of the importance of documenting a slip and fall. Just to remind you, we must prove your case as we are the party bringing suit. To prove each element of negligence by the business, we need evidence. Distinguishing a slip and fall from a vehicle accident case, the evidence makes its case. You can see from where the damage on the vehicles is how the accident occurred. This evidence can either contradict or support a narrative and make a case. Meanwhile, without proof of a slippery surface, a jury would have no way of understanding what you slipped on or the obviousness of the danger.
Gathering Contact Information
Additionally, speaking to witnesses is critically important in a Bowie slip and fall case. If you can talk to a witness who tells you that they told the business about the hazard 30 minutes before your injury, that testimony can prove an otherwise complicated element of your claim. Remember, we must prove that the business knew or should have known about the hazard. If the hazard has existed for a long time, that establishes that element. Security footage may also establish this element but is only sometimes available. And even if it is available, it may not clearly show the danger.
So, take all the pictures you can that may be relevant. Then, gather as much contact information as possible from those who witnessed your slip and fall or came up to you and told you they noticed something similar. Then, file an incident report on the scene with the business. But be careful regarding them paying you to settle the case or saying anything that could damage the value of your claim. Remember, they are not on your side, so you need a Bowie slip and fall lawyer to assist you immediately.
Recovering Money Damages In A Slip And Fall
Recovering money for damages in your Bowie slip and fall cases is the ultimate goal as compensation for your injuries. Determining how much your injuries are worth requires the expertise of a Bowie personal injury lawyer. There are many factors to consider when evaluating the ultimate value. The most crucial factors include your medical expenses, lost wages, how long you were treated, the extent and severity of your injuries, the county (Prince George’s County) that we would file suit in, and the assets or insurance coverage of the defendant. The more pain you are in, the more compensation you are entitled to. But of course, we must be able to prove this pain. If you have an injury like a fracture easily visible on an x-ray, we will have no problem proving that in court.
However, suppose you claim you hit your head on the steering wheel, but the airbags never deployed, and there is minor property damage to your vehicle. In that case, we will have a more challenging time convincing a jury of your injury. We cannot produce an x-ray in court or brain imaging scans that show your headaches. Of course, your testimony still qualifies as evidence. However, it is typically less convincing to a jury than something visible.
Our Bowie slip and fall lawyers have practiced personal injury law in Maryland for over 70 years. This experience has allowed us to hone negotiation skills to maximize client compensation. We understand how to achieve favorable results. We know when an insurance company is maxed out when they are bluffing, and to keep pushing—part of the reason is our ability to assess a case. Through our experience in the courtroom and at the negotiating table, we have a robust understanding of what a case is worth. We assess a case by identifying its strengths and weaknesses. Every case we encounter has both of these elements. While we may convince the defense team otherwise, no case is perfect. The ability to downplay the weaknesses while emphasizing the strengths of your case ultimately benefits you as we negotiate its value.
Do Not Wait To File A Claim
In every consultation, one of the first questions we ask is when the injury occurred. Bowie slip and fall attorneys must be conscientious about the applicable statute of limitations. In Maryland, you usually have three years from the date of injury to file your claim in court. But simply because you have three years does not mean you should wait two and a half months to speak with a Bowie slip and fall lawyer. There are several reasons why you should not wait.
Reason one is crucial advice you need to hear for your case immediately. Delaying in acting on this advice or receiving the advice too late can be detrimental to the value of your case. You have specific duties placed on you as a plaintiff that you must adhere to. First, you must mitigate damages. This applies to a multitude of actions you must take post-injury. Second, to ultimately recover lost wages, there are specific steps you must take. Unfortunately, when we have a new client who hires an attorney too late, they may lose thousands of dollars in compensation because of this delay.
Reason two is that many Bowie slip and fall lawyers will not take your case the closer you get to the deadline. First, having not hired a lawyer is a red flag. Generally, this only happens when a potential client has tried to resolve the claim without a lawyer and the liability portion of the claim has been denied. Second, the closer you get to the deadline, the more difficult it is for us to take your case.
When we take your case at a late stage, there are many things we need to do before we can file suit. If you have yet to hire an attorney, we must get copies of all your medical records. For some providers, this can take several weeks. Attorneys do not want to risk taking your case at a late stage and not having sufficient time to handle it properly. If we did, we would expose ourselves to malpractice.
Contact a Bowie Slip and Fall Lawyer
At Gelb & Gelb, P.C., we take slip and fall injuries seriously. We know the impact a severe injury can have on your life. What is worse is when that life-changing injury is due to the negligence of some careless business. By placing your faith in us, we will leave no stone unturned in winning your case. You can call our office today for a free consultation.
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