September 18, 2023
Contributory Negligence: Its Significance in Slip and Fall Cases
You’re walking through a local grocery store, mindfully navigating the aisles. Suddenly, you slip on a puddle of water and injure your back. Your first thought might be, “Is the store responsible for this?” The answer can be complicated, and this is where the concept of contributory negligence comes into play.
This legal principle can significantly affect the outcome of slip and fall cases, including your ability to recover any damages.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that says that a person who is injured in an accident can be partly at fault for their own injuries. If the court finds that you were contributorily negligent, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you are found to have.
Maryland is one of four states that still follows the contributory negligence rule. This means that if you are found to be even 1% at fault for your slip and fall accident, you will not be able to recover any damages from the property owner.
To grasp the full import of contributory negligence, consider these examples:
Not paying attention to where you are walking. If you’re focused on your phone instead of the path ahead, you might be found contributory negligent.
Wearing improper footwear. If you’re wearing high heels or flip-flops in a place where such footwear is risky, your choice could count against you.
Ignoring a wet floor sign. Walking past a clear warning sign and then slipping could be seen as your own fault.
Jogging or running in a store. Rushing through a store increases the risk of slipping, which could be construed as contributory negligence.
Carrying a large object that obstructed your vision. If you can’t see where you’re going, you could be found partly at fault for any subsequent fall.
In all these scenarios, a skilled lawyer in Silver Spring would have to work diligently to prove that your actions should not exempt the property owner from their greater share of fault.
The Legal Minefield
The intricacies of contributory negligence is complex. Say surveillance footage showed you glancing at your phone just before the fall. This simple act could disqualify you from claiming damages unless a skilled lawyer in Silver Spring convincingly argues that the establishment’s fault far outweighs your momentary distraction.
Robust evidence is your ally here. If the establishment failed to put up a “Wet Floor” sign, or if they were aware of a recurring slippery spot and did nothing, your Silver Spring lawyer can leverage this negligence to your advantage.
How to Minimize the Risk of Contributorily Negligence
There are a few things you can do to avoid being found contributorily negligent in a slip and fall case:
Stay Alert. Always pay close attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for wet floor signs, uneven flooring, or other potential hazards.
Wear Appropriate Footwear. Choose shoes that are appropriate for the environment you’ll be in. For example, avoid wearing high heels or flip-flops when you know you’ll be walking on potentially slippery or uneven surfaces.
Heed Warning Signs. If there’s a wet floor sign or any other warning indicating a potential hazard, don’t ignore it. Walk carefully around it or choose a different path.
Avoid Risky Behavior. Refrain from running, jogging, or engaging in other high-speed activities in places like stores where the flooring might be uneven or slippery.
Keep a Clear Line of Sight. Avoid carrying large objects that block your view. If you can’t see where you’re going, you increase the risk of missing warning signs or other indicators of potential hazards.
Your Next Move Could Change Everything
Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, but what transpires after the fall largely depends on the actions you take. Contributory negligence may seem unfair, but it is a part of Maryland law that you must navigate skillfully if you hope to get the compensation you deserve.
Montero Law Group, LLC is committed to helping you understand your rights and options. We’ve worked extensively with slip and fall cases in Maryland, gaining invaluable insights into how contributory negligence impacts these cases.
Don’t let a momentary lapse cost you dearly. Time is crucial in these matters, and the sooner you consult with us, the stronger your case will be. Reach out to Montero Law Group, LLC today and let us guide you through the complex landscape of Maryland’s contributory negligence laws.