D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act


District of Columbia

Employment Discrimination

Expert Witness Issues

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

Federal Civil Procedure


Jordan Coyne LLP news

Lead Paint Poisoning

Legal Ethics

Legal Malpractice

Liability of Agents and Brokers


Motor Vehicle Accidents

Personal Jurisdiction

Police Civil Liability

School liability


Workers Compensation

Most Recent Entries

Recent Case Notes from Jordan Coyne LLP

D.C. Court of Appeals clarifies the method to assign permanent partial disability awards

Jordan Coyne LLP is pleased to announce that Padraic Keane has been advanced to Partner

In Memoriam - James F. Jordan

Virginia Workers’ Compensation:  Injury After Clocking Out

Monthly Archives

May 2017

February 2017

November 2016

April 2016

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

May 2015

April 2015

October 2014

August 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

August 2013

July 2013

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

October 2010

August 2010

January 2010

November 2009

September 2009

August 2009

April 2009


RSS 2.0

Assumption of the Risk - Slip and Fall on Icy Sidewalk
In Mary Thomas v. Panco Management of Maryland, LLC, et al., ___________ Md. App. ____________ (Oct. 1, 2010), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed a ruling from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, holding that, in a slip and fall case, a plaintiff can be held to have voluntarily assumed the risk of slipping on ice or snow even if the plaintiff has no alternative safe route to reach his or her destination, provided, however, that the plaintiff has some alternate safe course of action.

Ms. Thomas sued the owner and management company of her apartment complex for personal injuries that arose when she fell on black ice on the sidewalk in front of her apartment building and fractured her right leg.

In order to establish assumption of the risk, the defendant must establish that the plaintiff (1) had knowledge of the risk, (2) appreciated the danger of the risk, and (3) with this knowledge and appreciation voluntarily encountered the risk. At trial, Ms. Thomas testified that the sidewalk in front of her apartment did not get much direct sunlight and that she knew that when the snow and ice did melt in this area that water would flow onto the sidewalk, making it wet. Further, it was known to Ms. Thomas that when wet, icy conditions could develop on the sidewalk if temperatures fell below freezing. Ms. Thomas encountered icy conditions in the morning of the injury on her way to work. Ms. Thomas then encountered wet conditions two more times later in the day before the temperatures fell below freezing. Later that evening when Ms. Thomas left her apartment for a third time, ice had developed on the sidewalk and Ms. Thomas, who did not see the black ice slipped and fell and broke her leg. The trial court found that Ms. Thomas, based on bits and pieces of information that she possessed and gathered throughout the day as well as her experience at the apartment complex as a longtime resident, had knowledge of the risk that she might be stepping down upon ice and that a reasonable person in her position would have appreciated the danger of that action.

Ms. Thomas argued that even if she had knowledge of the risk and appreciated the risk, she did not voluntarily assume the risk since she had no alternative means of egress from her apartment to the parking lot. However, the Court opined that Ms. Thomas had alternatives, she could have called the apartment complex?s maintenance staff to put down salt, or she could have refused to take her granddaughter to church in the first instance knowing the sidewalks might be icy. Thus, in affirming the trial court, the Court of Special Appeals concluded that Ms. Thomas? actions would only be considered involuntary if she lacked the free will to avoid the situation. Accordingly, even though Ms. Thomas did not have an alternative safe path to her car, she did have a safe alternative course of action to not encounter the known risk, such that her decision to leave her apartment constituted voluntarily encountering the risk which satisfied the third and final prong.

Posted by Robert A. Anderson on 10/21/2010 at 01:23 PM