During the winter months plenty of businesses are left with parking lots that are packed with snow and ice. If a person falls, is the business responsible or liable for someone falling in their parking lot?
In the state of Maryland and Virginia there are doctrines of contributory negligence. This means that if the condition is open and obvious, than the person will probably not be able to recover because they are knowingly putting themselves in harms' way.
Only when the area where you slipped/tripped/fell in is part of the property owners premise, and he/she failed to take the appropriate precautions to correct a problem that led to the accident would a person be able to recover for damages.
Some common examples of these conditions and the rules regarding a property owner's duties are as follows:
- Ice or Snow outside a Building: the law does not require a property owner to remove ice or snow that accumulates outside his/her establishment as the result of weather. However, if conditions on the property cause an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow, the property owner may be liable for a slip and fall accident. For example: when ice accumulates on the rood, then melts and drips off because of clogged drains and then refreezes on the ground or when the slopping surface of a parking lot causes ice to melt and form puddles and to refreeze into black ice patches.
- Not Enough Outdoor Lighting: Inadequate lighting may cause a person to fall in parking lots, or to trip over a curbing, or fall on a step or stairs from a parking lot to a store that is not well lit. Also, holes, cracks and uneven surfaces can cause a person to slip and fall in poorly lit areas. It is the duty of the property owner to maintain the proper lighting, if not, they can be held liable for a person's injury.
- Parking Lots: The proper maintenance of parking lots falls on the owner of the parking facility. They must be kept in a manner such that it is reasonably safe for people to use it. This means that all cracks and holes must be filled and patched over properly. In addition, differences in height from one section of the lot to another should be gradual in nature, rather than abrupt to prevent a slip and fall accident from occurring.
- Sidewalks: If a sidewalk is used in an excessive manner by customers entering and exiting a business, then the property owner will be responsible when a dangerous condition exists on his/her private walkway. In general sidewalks are considered public property and are to be maintained by the city or town, but in cases where the sidewalk is used exclusively by customers of a business, then it is the business owners' responsibility to maintain it properly and if an accident occurs they can be held liable.
Therefore; if you or your loved one is involved in a slip and fall accident, please contact our office, so we can review and examine your possible claim properly, and, hold the responsible party liable for your injuries, and, obtain a proper settlement for your damages.