Maryland Court Discusses Establishing a Property Owner’s Liability For an Accident

Under Maryland law, property owners generally have an obligation to maintain their premises in a safe condition to prevent visitors from suffering harm. Simply because an accident occurs at a property does not mean that the owner neglected its duties, though. Instead, a property owner will usually only be held liable for harm if it was caused by a dangerous condition on their premises that the owner knew or should have known of, as discussed in a recent Maryland case. If you were hurt in a trip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you might be able to recover compensation, and you should speak to a Maryland premises liability lawyer about your potential claims.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries when she stepped off of a curb and fell into a six inch depression in a shopping center parking lot owned and managed by the defendant. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that it negligently failed to inspect and maintain the subject lot. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it did not owe a duty to the plaintiff or have a duty to inspect the lot for conditions of which it had no prior knowledge. The court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff appealed.

Establishing a Property Owner’s Liability

The trial court’s ruling was affirmed on appeal. In Maryland, a property owner may be liable for physical harm invitees suffer due to a dangerous condition on their land, but only if they know or reasonably should know that the condition presents a reasonable risk of harm to visitors, that said visitors are unlikely to discover the condition, and the owner fails to protect them from the potential danger.

In other words, property owners have a duty to warn visitors of known dangers that are hidden and to take reasonable precautions against dangers that are foreseeable. A key element of this duty is actual or constructive knowledge of the condition. Absent such knowledge, there is no basis for imposing liability on the property owner. Additionally, without presenting evidence of actual or constructive knowledge of a condition, it would be unreasonable to impose a duty on a property owner to constantly inspect their premises.

In the subject case, the court ultimately determined that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence demonstrating that the defendant had constructive knowledge of the allegedly dangerous condition through which a jury could have reasonably determined it had a duty to inspect the property. As such, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Maryland Attorney

Property owners that negligently fail to maintain their property may be held accountable for any harm that is the direct result of their carelessness. If you fell on another person’s property, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should meet with an attorney. The Maryland premises liability lawyers of Foran & Foran, P.A. can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and help you gather any evidence that would support your claims. Our office is in Greenbelt, and we regularly represent people in personal injury lawsuits in cities in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at (301) 441-2022 to set up a confidential and free conference.

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