Premises Liability Lawyer in Woodbridge, VA
Have you been injured on another’s property?
If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, you may have a premises liability case. Premises liability claims can come in many different forms. For example, a victim may have tripped and fallen in a store or been bitten by a property owner’s dog. However, simply being injured and being on someone else’s property does not make a premises liability case. Remember that in order for you to make a recovery, someone has to be liable for your injury. In other words, they have to do something wrong which contributed to your injury. Then, in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, you have to deal with the issue of contributory negligence. The contributory negligence rule generally states that if the claimant was negligent and that negligence contributed to the cause of the accident, the claimant cannot win in Court. The rule applies even if the defendant was 99.9 percent responsible. Each case must be individually analyzed.
Slip and Fall Accident Example
Take the following example in a trip and fall situation. A shopper walks across a soaking wet parking lot on a rainy day. She is wearing a pair of flip-flops and carrying a purse. As she crosses the sidewalk and enters a store she is facing two wet floor signs which the employees of the store put out to warn their customers that the linoleum floor is slippery. Although the tiles are wet, the store has been regularly drying the tiles. However, each new customer tracks more water into the store and the floor is slightly wet. The shopper does not see the warning signs because she is speaking on her cell phone and not watching where she is going. She slips and falls down on the tiles about five feet into the store. She gets back up, brushes herself off and continues to shop. She suffers no permanent injury and sought no medical treatment, but she does feel pain for a few days in her leg where she fell. One week after the fall, she is completely healed.
If the customer came to D. Michael Mullori Jr. Attorney at Law, I would evaluate the issues in the claim and ask the following questions:
- Was the store negligent? It depends. On the one hand, the store employees tried to keep the floor clear and put up warning signs. On the other hand, most stores will put out movable rugs or rubber pads on their tile right inside the store knowing that most customers are occupied with children or other packages as they enter a store. It’s a good precaution, costs almost nothing, and saves a lot of senseless injuries. A smart store manager would likely have instructed his employees to use a pad on such a rainy day.
- Was the customer contributorily negligent because she was not watching where she was going? It depends, but you should always keep an eye out to see what a reasonable person would see.
- Was the customer sufficiently injured to warrant making a claim? Probably not.
All three questions are critical, and as is usually the situation with premises liability cases, the first two are open questions. Only a jury can decide liability issues like those presented above. However, since the lady in this example was not significantly injured, my firm would decline the case.
If you change the facts around, the analysis changes. The case becomes more substantive as the liability of the store increases and caution displayed by the shopper improves. For example, assume the rain ended hours before, but the store floor is still wet because no one cleaned it up despite the employee’s knowledge that the floor was wet. There are no signs to warn the customers and no rubber mats, rugs or pads to protect them from falling. The customer was watching where she was going, but she could not see the water on the floor because of poor lighting in the entryway. In that case, the store is clearly negligent and the shopper is not. Provided she is significantly injured in the accident, she probably has a valid case.
The Experience to Handle Complex Cases
As you might have guessed, most cases are not so easy to analyze. In real life, most cases do not fit neatly into the good case / bad case categories like they do here. Plus, no case is a good case until the proper evidence has been assembled. I have the experience to make sure that your good case is handled properly.
If you or someone you care about has been injured on someone else’s property, call (703) 490-5995 for a free case evaluation.
D. Michael Mullori Jr.:
- Cares About You
- Has Lots of Trial Experience
- Wants to Dedicate His Time to Your Case
- Is a Local Woodbridge Resident