Maryland Court Explains Notice of Harmful Conditions in Personal Injury Cases

Many Maryland residents rely on public transportation and expect that they will be able to access such conveyances without suffering harm. Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for passengers on public transportation to encounter dangerous conditions that ultimately cause them to suffer injuries. Whether a transit authority will be held liable for harm sustained in an accident on one of its vehicles depends, in part, on whether it had notice of the allegedly harmful condition, as explained in a recent Maryland opinion. If you were hurt while riding public transportation, it is advisable to speak to a Maryland personal injury lawyer to evaluate your possible causes of action.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries while riding a bus owned and operated by the defendant transit authority. Specifically, she tripped over the frame of the wheelchair ramp while entering the bus and stumbled. She subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for her harm. Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment arguing, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to establish the defendant had notice of the allegedly dangerous condition as required to recover damages under Maryland law.

Notice of Dangerous Conditions

In Maryland, in order to recover damages for negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate a duty, a breach of the duty, proximate cause, and damages. Further, a property owner’s liability to a person injured on their property depends on the individual’s status; for example, property owners have a duty to protect invitees from injuries caused by unreasonable risks that the invitees are unlikely to uncover.

Common carriers like transit authorities, though, owe their passengers an elevated duty of care. Specifically, they owe passengers the highest degree of care to provide them with safe methods and means of transportation. They are not insurers of passenger safety, however. Instead, they have an obligation to transport passengers to their destination as efficiently and safely as possible.

Thus, for a common carrier to be liable for negligence due to harm allegedly caused by a dangerous condition, they must have constructive or actual notice of the condition. In the subject case, the court explained that the defendant submitted undisputed evidence that it regularly inspected the bus and the wheelchair ramp prior to and after the plaintiff’s incident and that none of its inspections revealed an issue with the ramp. Further, other passengers walked over the ramp without incident. As the court found there was no evidence that the defendant had notice of any hazardous condition, it granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Confer with an Experienced Maryland Attorney

Trip and fall accidents can cause significant injuries, and in most instances, they are caused by reckless behavior. The capable Maryland personal injury lawyers of Foran & Foran, P.A. are adept at helping people harmed by the negligence of others recover damages for their losses, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our office is in Greenbelt, and we regularly represent parties in personal injury lawsuits in cities in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at (301) 441-2022 to set up a confidential and free consultation.


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