I slipped on the ice. Can I sue? Does it matter if it was "black ice"?
As discussed in other articles, Maryland employs the archaic doctrine of "contributory negligence" which bars any financial recovery to a Baltimore accident victim if they bear even the slightest responsibility for contributing to their injury. Baltimore personal injury lawyers are often confronted with a similar, related defense, employed by insurance companies -"assumption of the risk".
"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." Allen v. Marriott, 961 A.2d 1141, 183 Md. App. 460 (Md. App., 2008).
When dealing with falls in an icy parking lot, walkway, or sidewalk, in many instances "[t]he risk is that of slipping on ice. The required knowledge is not knowledge that ice is actually present. It is the appreciation of the reasonable likelihood that, under the weather conditions and other circumstances, ice might well be present. The assumed risk is not that of stepping on ice per se. The assumed risk is that of stepping onto an unknown surface with an awareness that it might well be icy. With white ice, you see it is there. With black ice, you infer the likelihood that it may be there." Id.
So, the question is not whether ice was present, but, rather, in light of the weather conditions, history, and other circumstances, ice might be present. "Either establishes the element of awareness." Id. If the plaintiff is aware of the danger, there is no recovery. I've seen some truly horrific injuries that result from 'sliding' on the ice. While the injuries can be devastating, these are some of the most difficult cases in which to prevail due to the array of defenses available to the insurance company. If you've been injured in a fall on snow or ice, consult an experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney to explore any possible defenses the at-fault party may have.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 3/1/19.