Skip to Main Content

Can I Sue If I Fall On Black Ice?

The American Meteorological Society tells us black ice is “a popular alternative for glaze. A thin sheet of ice, relatively dark in appearance, may form when light rain or drizzle falls on a road surface that is at a temperature below 0°c. It may also be formed when supercooled fog droplets are intercepted by buildings, fences, and vegetation.” [].

It’s really kind of a misnomer. The problem with black ice is that it’s not black, it’s clear, which makes it essentially impossible to detect, until it’s too late.  

The phrase, and the concept, has found its way into Maryland judicial opinions. Personal injuries caused by slips and falls on black ice often end up in litigation, and that litigation gives insurance defense attorneys a chance to argue for the application of a particular affirmative defense to bar the plaintiff’s claim.

“Assumption of the risk rests upon an intentional and voluntary exposure to a known danger and, therefore, consent on the part of the plaintiff to relieve the defendant of an obligation of conduct toward him and to take his chances from harm from a particular risk.” (holding that the requisite conduct must show consent to accept the risk because “the legal position is then that the defendant is under no duty to protect the plaintiff”). “If established by the evidence, assumption of the risk functions as a complete bar to recovery because it is a previous abandonment of the right to complain if an accident occurs. In Maryland, it is well settled that in order to establish the defense of assumption of risk, the defendant must show that the plaintiff: (1) had knowledge of the risk of the danger; (2) appreciated that risk; and (3) voluntarily confronted the risk of danger.” (internal quotations and citations omitted)” Poole v. Coakley, 423 MD 91 [2011].

The test is an objective one.

“[F]or a plaintiff to have knowledge of the risk……there must be undisputed evidence that he or she had actual knowledge of the risk prior to its encounter. Actual knowledge can be proven, for example, by evidence of the particular plaintiff's subjective knowledge of a risk, e.g. previous experience with or sensory perception of the danger, or objective knowledge of a risk that the law deems so obvious that it could not have been encountered unwittingly”. Id.

I've handled black ice cases. My preference on any injury case is to hold a case evaluation and strategy conference with any prospective client as quickly as possible after the accident. Timing is often vital. Feel free to contact me today. 410 591 2835. 

Proudly Committed to Serving
my Clients Since 1994
  • Mr. Kirk was very responsive, efficient and knowledgeable at onset. Mr. Kirk kept me abreast of every movement during my cases tenure and gave what I thought was great advice throughout the entire process. I highly recommend him to anyone needing honest, effective and immediate legal services. Cite Spacer R.S. Baltimore, MD
  • I couldn’t of asked for a better lawyer, Mr. Eric Kirk was OUTSTANDING. When I needed advice he answered quickly, when I was frustrated he understood and he help me figure things out. Not only is he a great lawyer but he’s also a great man & his vibe is amazing. He cares about his clients and he goes above & beyond to help them out. He settled my accident case in a short 3 months, and he got me a great amount. More than I expected. He is now my lawyer for life, I would recommend him to any and everyone. I appreciate doing business with you Eric. Cite Spacer A.A. Baltimore, MD
  • Thank you Eric Kirk for your superb handling of my Worker's Compensation Case. You were very thorough and took the time to understand me and what I was experiencing, working with me side-by side. You were recommended to me by a satisfied prior client and I would recommend you 100%. Thanks again for a job well done. Cite Spacer K.G. Baltimore, MD
Read More Testimonials