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Can A Homeowner's Insurance Be Held Accountable for a Slip and Fall on Their Property?

If you slip and fall on someone else's property, the owner of the property could be responsible for your injuries. Determining liability and who is accountable in any personal injury incident is a key component and vital first step of any case.

There are many situations where people trip, slip, or fall under certain circumstances (such as an icy sidewalk) where the property owner may be held accountable if they knew or should have known about the situation beforehand. 

Maryland premises liability law covers slip and fall and other types of accidents caused by dangerous conditions on someone else's property. In order for a homeowner to be held accountable for a slip and fall on their property, one of the following must typically be true: 

  • The homeowner knew about the dangerous condition and did not attempt to fix it
  • The homeowner themselves created the dangerous condition that led to the accident 
  • The homeowner should have known about the dangerous condition and taken the right steps to prevent injuries 

Most frequently, a homeowners insurance company will defend the case based on a lack of "notice." This is a surprisingly sophisticated argument. It assumes, that there was a dangerous condition, and that that condition caused actual injury to an innocent person. However, the contention is, that because the premises owner did not "know" of the condition they are not responsible. Some argue this position actually discourages vigorous inspection, rather than encouraging it. 

The classic example of adequate notice is where the premises owner is provided with direct knowledge- either by report or prior injury- that there is a defective condition on the property. As many may surmise, proving this happened is rarely possible.

Some factors the law points to in deciding if a homeowner knew, or should have known of a dangerous condition are: 

  • How long had the dangerous condition existed, and did the homeowner have a reasonable amount of time to become knowledgeable and fix the situation?
  • Was the dangerous condition open and obvious, or latent
  • What was the habit, routine and custom of the homeowner to inspect and monitor their property? 

     -This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 7/6/20. 

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