Maryland Black Ice Fall Lawyers

George Patterson Top 100 Maryland Super Lawyer
from 2013-2015
Maria Patterson Top 100 Maryland Super Lawyer
Maria Patterson Top 50 Maryland Female Super Lawyer

Falls on Black Ice

Maryland lawyers George and Maria Patterson have litigated dozens of injury cases arising from falls on black ice.   The term "black ice" is used to describe clear ice that is over a black surface such as a parking lot.  Black ice is often difficult to see and the surface may just appear damp as opposed to icy.  Many lawyers refuse to take cases where a person was injured due to falling on black ice. Such cases have always been met with mixed results in the Maryland courts.

Maryland is a contributory negligence state. That means if you committed a negligent act that contributed to your injuries, you are barred from recovery. In slip and fall cases the argument that the person was not looking where they were walking or failed to see a hazard that was there to be seen is almost always present.  Contributory negligence is almost  always argued by defense lawyers in cases involving a fall on black ice.   Even if a business owner or landlord failed to clear black ice from a sidewalk, an injured customer or tenant could still lose their case if a court or jury found that the person was contributorily negligent for walking on black ice that they should have seen.  The Maryland personal injury lawyers at RGPH have successfully guided clients past these tricky defenses.

In Maryland assumption of the risk is also a defense to personal injury claims for falling on black ice. A person assumes the risk of an injury if they voluntarily encounter a dangerous condition and are injured by that condition.  Voluntarily stepping on a sheet of ice qualifies as assuming the risk of slipping on that sheet of ice and falling.   Defense lawyers will always attempt to prove that a person who fell on black ice assumed the risk of their injuries.  The personal injury lawyers at Reinstein, Glackin. Patterson & Herriott have successfully defeated claims of assumption of the risk and contributory negligence for clients that have fallen on black ice.

The Maryland Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals have issued opinions in cases that establish the legal analysis that trial Courts must follow in slip and fall cases. Prior to October 2011, the law in Maryland was that a person assumed the risk of falling on ice as a matter of law if they had reason to know of the risk of slipping on ice. The required knowledge was not knowledge that ice was actually present. It was the appreciation of the reasonable likelihood that, under the weather conditions and other circumstances, black ice might be present. The assumed risk was found as a matter of law, when one stepped on an unknown surface with an awareness that it might be icy. White ice is easily seen. With black ice, one can infer that it might be present. Either established the element of awareness.

The Maryland Court of Appeals overruled this analysis of cases involving falls on ice. The Court identified facts that are present in many cases where a person falls on black ice that a jury could rely on to conclude that the person did not assume the risk of her injuries. For example, the person may have observed that the surface appeared wet but knew from past experience that the land owner usually salted the surface promptly. The person had walked the same path after it had snowed and been cleared with no problems. The temperature may have been above freezing within an hour of the fall. The change in the case law permits most cases where a person stepped onto a surface that they believed to be wet but was actually covered by a sheet of invisible or black ice to present their case to a jury.

Prior to these recent decisions, judges would find against a plaintiff before their case reached the jury, if the person knew or should have known that the temperature was below freezing and that the conditions were sufficient that black ice might be present. The defense lawyer only had to prove that the conditions were sufficient for ice to form and the the injured party knew or should have known that the conditions for black ice to form were present.

Lawyer George Patterson obtained a $200,000 recovery for a tenant that fell on black ice while walking on a sidewalk to her car.  The apartment complex had offered her $30,000 to resolve her case before suit was filed.  Questioning of the corporate designee of the apartment complex revealed that the defendant knew refreezing of ice at night was a problem and that extra salt needed to be placed in such areas. 

The personal injury lawyers at RGPH have litigated cases involving falls on black ice for the past 17 years.  The injury lawyers have prevailed in fall cases on black ice when the law was unfavorable to plaintiffs and have continued to prevail in black ice fall cases now that the law is more lenient on those who have fallen on black ice. 


If you fell on black ice or invisible ice and you reasonably believed that the area was not covered with ice please give the top rated Prince George's County injury lawyers, Maria Patterson and George Patterson a call to schedule a free consultation at 301-383-1525. The injury lawyers at Reinstein, Glackin, Patterson and Herriott have tried dozens of cases involving injuries that occurred as a result of falls on black ice. These trials have been for falls in Bowie, Upper Marlboro, Forestville, Suitland, Oxon Hill, Silver Spring, Landover, Largo, Laurel and College Park, Maryland.

The personal injury lawyers at Reinstein, Glackin, Patterson and Herriott also have an office in Rockville, Maryland located at 11 North Washington Street, Suite 530. 

The Maryland black ice fall lawyers at Reinstein, Glackin, Patterson & Herriott serve clients in Prince George's, Montgomery, Calvert, Charles, St. Mary's, Howard, Anne Arundel, Queen Anne's and Talbot Counties. The Maryland personal injury lawyers represent clients from Silver Spring, Waldorf, Oxon Hill, Suitland, Largo, Landover, Upper Marlboro, Bowie, Olney, Prince Frederick, Brandywine, Leonardtown, Annapolis, Lexington Park, Columbia, Mayo, Davidsonville, Edgewater, Rockville, Bethesda, Solomons, Huntingtown, Chevy Chase, Owings, Germantown, Oxon Hill, Beltsville, Deale, Clinton, Severna Park, Laytonsville, Easton, Crofton, Columbia and La Plata.
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