In many personal injury cases, the plaintiffs seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses caused by the careless acts of another person or business. In an important decision issued on May 31, 2017, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a jury verdict that found in favor of the plaintiffs on their negligence claim against the general contractor that built their home. The plaintiff in the case was injured after a safety guardrail in his home failed, causing him to fall 12 to 13 feet onto the concrete below.
After a trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $1,306,700 in damages, which was reduced by the statutory cap on noneconomic damages. The defendant subsequently appealed the verdict. On appeal, one of the defendant’s primary arguments was that it owed no duty to the plaintiffs to ensure the proper construction of the guardrail because the responsibility for its construction had been delegated to its sub-contractor.
In general, Maryland follows the rule that the employer of an independent contractor is not liable for physical harm caused to another party by an act or omission of the contractor or its employees. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, most of which fall into three categories: (1) negligence of the employer in selecting or supervising the contractor; (2) non-delegable duties of the employer; and (3) inherently dangerous work.