Here’s one Personal Injury Case that Won’t Fly

A Maryland man who tried to stage a personal injury case has been charged with fraud after a very poor attempt at staging a slip and fall lawsuit.  Of course, nobody should ever try to stage any fake personal injury case.  But this guy really takes the cake for his lame attempt. 

According to news reports, this man was caught on video entering an elevator at a Metro station and dropping a banana peel on the floor, then slipping and falling on the peel as he exits the elevator.  I watched the video.  When the man enters, the floor is clean and clear.  After the man enters, we see a banana peel on the floor in front of the elevator door. 

Of course, this is right after we see the man look up into the camera.  Was he checking to see if it was on?  Did he just want to give them a good shot of his face?  That’s what he did. 

And a banana peel?  Really?  This guy’s been watching too much bugs bunny. 

Thanks to the magic of videotape, it does not appear this man will be successful in his personal injury lawsuit.  They caught him in the act.

This case occurred in DC.  If he had been in Maryland, his personal injury case would have gone nowhere even if the video was turned off. 

Maryland slip and fall personal injury cases are not favored by the Courts. Maryland has two legal doctrines that make that type of personal injury case difficult.  One is “assumption of the risk”, which means you knew of the danger of personal injury, and appreciated the danger, but chose to encounter it anyway.  A good example is crossing a snowy walk.  In Maryland, the Courts have said if you chose to cross a snowy walkway, you assumed the risk of your injury and cannot file a personal injury claim. 

The other doctrine is “contributory negligence”, which means your own negligence contributed to the personal injury accident.  A good example would be making a “rolling stop” through a stop sign and being part of the cause of a car accident.  Even if the other guy is way more negligent than you, if the jury thinks you are also partly negligent you have no case. 

In Maryland personal injury cases for a slip and fall in a business, there is one more hurdle – the business must have some notice of the defective condition that caused the slip and fall.  Basically, they must either know of the dangerous condition, or they should have known of it. 

Of course, the “should have known” question is the interesting one.  Lawyers in personal injury cases of this sort will spend a lot of time examining that issue. 

In this particular case, there is no question that Metro had no prior notice of the banana peel.  The floor was clearly clean about 1 minute before the accident.  Even if there were less evidence of this man’s fraud, he likely would be unable to make a personal injury claim in Maryland. 

DC is different, and he probably would have been successful in his attempt to manufacture a claim if the video did not so clearly catch him dropping that banana peel  – and looking guilty as heck when he looked up into the camera twice!

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