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Who is Liable for Ice Related Accidents in Maryland?

Winter means temperatures are less than ideal for going out, and heavy rains, sleet, ice, and snow can contribute to all sorts of problems for people. One of these problems is accidents. Whether it is an auto accident or a slip and fall due to bad weather, you may still have a claim for damages.

Ice can cause deadly auto accidents and serious-injury slip and falls where victims suffer everything from broken bones to spinal cord and brain injuries. It is important to understand the specific laws that relate to determining fault in Maryland personal injury matters.

Elements of a Slip and Fall Claim

Slip and fall cases have certain elements that must be present. The first is duty, which means the property owner (or renter or lessee, depending on the circumstances) owes a legal duty to protect you from dangerous conditions on their property. They must then have breached this duty, usually by not taking sufficient action to protect you. Third, you must have sustained damages. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. Finally, the damages you sustained must have been caused by the owner’s breach of duty.

When weather elements like snow and ice are involved, proving liability becomes trickier. Did the owner know about the presence of ice or snow? Were they negligent in failing to protect others from the icy conditions? There is another possible scenario. Did they create the dangerous condition? Perhaps they shoveled snow in a manner that created a hazard.

Assumption of Risk

The legal theory of assumption of risk is likely to be raised by the defendant as a defense to your personal injury claim. Assumption of risk is as the name suggests—you assumed a risk by entering the premises walking on ice or snow. This can be a total bar to recovery. However, for the defense to succeed with this theory, they have to prove you knew, or should have been aware, of the danger ahead but opted to enter anyway.

Icy Road Auto Accidents

You might assume that if your car slid across the road due entirely to bad weather, that you would not be at fault. However, drivers have a legal duty to control their vehicle at all times, including on snowy or icy roads. If the other driver is the one who lost control and hit you, you may have a strong position for recovery. If both cars lost control at the same time and slid into each other, it may be 50/50 fault, in which case both sides would be barred from recovery. Your Maryland auto accident attorney can explain how liability works in your particular scenario.

Contributory Negligence in Maryland

Maryland is a contributory negligence state, which means that if the defendant can successfully place at least 1% of fault on you, then you can be barred from receiving compensation. This differs from a comparative negligence state, wherein you could be entitled to some compensation even if you share a percentage of the fault. For example, if a Maryland jury finds you 10% at fault for your accident, you will receive nothing. If this was a comparative negligence state, you would receive 90% of your damages after a jury award of 10% at fault. This is one reason why it is so important to retain the best Maryland personal injury attorney.

Contact a Charles County Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been in an auto accident or suffered a slip and fall due to someone else’s negligence, contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro today at 301-870-1200 to schedule an initial consultation.