A negligence claim can arise out of any number of circumstances, including accidents that occur on the property of individuals or businesses due to their carelessness. These are specifically known as premises liability claims. In a relevant decision issued on February 23, 2017, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether a lower court properly granted summary judgment against the plaintiff on his premises liability claim against a hospital.
In 2007, the plaintiff had visited the hospital to participate in a sleep study. Early the next morning, the plaintiff left the hospital and walked toward the bus stop. The plaintiff noticed that the sidewalk outside the hospital was wet with sleet, ice, and mud, but he proceeded to walk through it. He eventually reached a section of the sidewalk where, beneath the mud and slush, two concrete slabs were joined together unevenly. Unaware of the differential, the plaintiff tripped over the elevated slabs and fell, suffering a fractured leg and a broken ankle.
The plaintiff brought suit against the hospital, alleging that it had negligently breached its duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in maintaining the hospital grounds. The hospital contended that, although it maintained the area of the sidewalk on which the plaintiff fell, it didn’t own it or owe a duty to the plaintiff. The trial court held that since the hospital did not own the sidewalk at issue, it owed no duty of care to the plaintiff that would render it liable for his injuries. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the hospital’s admission that it maintained the sidewalk created an issue of fact regarding its ownership. The appeals court disagreed, explaining that the hospital did not waive the issue or concede ownership of the sidewalk when it answered the plaintiff’s interrogatory.