In some cases, Maryland trip and fall accidents may be caused by building design defects, negligent contractors, or careless property owners. A person injured by a dangerous condition on real property may seek damages from the allegedly negligent or liable party in a personal injury suit, as in a recent case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. In its January 6, 2021 opinion, the court considered an appeal filed by the plaintiff after a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant on her negligence claim.
The plaintiff in the case was working at a model home in Maryland. As she was leaving the property, she fell on the exterior front steps. She testified that she stepped down with her right foot onto the first step, then moved her left foot without realizing there was a second step. In her suit against the landscaping company and concrete contractor, the plaintiff claimed that the steps did not comply with the relevant building code requirements.
Prior to trial, the concrete contractor filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that although it had poured the concrete for the front stoop of the property, it was not involved in the design or installation of the brick steps and walkway. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff’s negligence claims proceeded solely against the landscaping company. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.
To prevail on a Maryland negligence action, the plaintiff must prove the existence of a duty owed to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, and an injury proximately caused by that breach. In the instant case, the plaintiff had alleged that the concrete contractor had created a dangerous and defective condition of the stairway and owed a duty to repair the negligently constructed staircase.
On appeal, the plaintiff contended that the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of the concrete contractor. The appeals court concluded that because it was undisputed that the concrete contractor had not constructed the stairway in question, the contractor did not create the allegedly defective and dangerous condition on which the plaintiff fell. The court also noted that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the concrete stoop that was constructed by the concrete contractor. As such, the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the concrete contractor.
The plaintiff then argued that the lower court erred by precluding her from offering evidence and testimony regarding the riser heights. The appeals court rejected the argument, explaining that insofar as the plaintiff’s liability expert had testified that the riser height did not cause or contribute to the plaintiff’s fall, it was therefore irrelevant. The court went on to affirm the jury verdict in favor of the defendant.
At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland premises liability attorneys can provide legal guidance regarding a personal injury or an accident caused by negligence. We handle a range of cases, including motor vehicle collisions and medical malpractice actions. Arrange a free consultation by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting Foran & Foran online.