People who have been injured in a retail store or other business may be able to recover their medical expenses and other losses if the accident was caused by negligence. In a March 14, 2018 Maryland premises liability case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed an injury claim filed by a plaintiff against a retail clothing store. After the circuit court had granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed.
The plaintiff in the case was injured when she tripped and fell in the defendant’s store. She alleged that her flip flop sandal became caught on an unsecured transition strip of rubber, which separated a carpeted section of the store from an uncarpeted aisle between departments. The plaintiff contended that the transition strip was damaged and detached from the ground, creating a dangerous condition for store patrons.
At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was an invitee of the defendant’s store. In Maryland, there is an assumption that the defendant, a retail establishment, will exercise reasonable care to ascertain the condition of the premises. In light of this assumption, the defendant has a duty to warn invitees of known hidden dangers, a duty to inspect, and a duty to take reasonable precautions against foreseeable dangers. In a premises liability case, the evidence must show not only that a dangerous condition existed, but also that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of it, and that that knowledge was gained in sufficient time to give the defendant the opportunity to remove it or to warn the plaintiff.