Duty of Care in DC Slip and Fall Cases

A property owner’s duty of care in DC slip and fall cases extends to their need to protect their customers from unreasonable risk of harm. The owner has a duty to take precautions to protect them from danger.

A property owner must inspect their property for conditions that create a risk of harm. If you suspect that your property owner has not fulfilled their legal obligation to warn you prior to an incident, contact an understanding slip and fall attorney right away.

Defining Legal Obligations of a Property Owner

A property owner needs to provide reasonably safe premises. The owner needs to provide a premise that is free from slipping hazards or should have known about slipping hazards. For example, one cannot stop water from getting into a lobby when it is raining.

However, if the property owner knows that rain is coming into the lobby, they have a duty to put a sign up that warns of the danger.

If a property owner is unaware of their obligations and fails to live up to their obligations, that could be considered breached duty of care in DC slip and fall cases.

Liability in Public vs. Private Properties

Many public properties in DC are federal or quasi-federal and are subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The act allows people to recover against the federal government for injury, wrongful death, and property damage caused by the negligence of a federal employee in the scope of their employment.

A private premises owner has a different expectation of duty of care in DC slip and fall cases. They do not have the discretion to decide to make repairs. If a poorly maintained properly leaves a dangerous condition developing, they can also be held liable for failing to make proper repairs.

Potential Impact of Constructive Notice

When the defendant knew about the hazard on their property but ignored it or did nothing to correct it in time, that establishes actual notice. Constructive notice means they should have known about the hazard.

An example of actual notice is when someone spills a drink in a restaurant and tells the waiter about the spill. An example of constructive notice is a snowstorm with slippery conditions.

The property owner knows it is snowing and that can be taken as constructive notice of the slippery conditions. Constructive notice is inferred when the condition is there for a sufficiently long period of time for someone to see it and correct it.

Role of Notice in a Contributory Negligence Jurisdiction

Notice is an element that must be established when proving duty of care in DC slip and fall cases. It means the defendant knew or should have known about the conditions that caused the accident.

Because Washington DC is a contributory negligence jurisdiction, if the defendant can prove that the injured party is even one percent responsible for the accident, they are not able to recover.

In a comparative negligence jurisdiction, any negligence reduces the amount the plaintiff can recover by the percentage they are found culpable.