To succeed on a Maryland injury claim, the plaintiff must prove all of the required elements, including that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. In a July 12, 2017 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an employer owed a duty to someone who was shot by its employee. The plaintiffs in the case sued the defendant-employer for the actions of its employee under a negligence theory. After the lower court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs appealed.
The defendant in the case was a security company that employed a guard to pick up cash deposits in an armored vehicle. After a group of robbers stole money from the guard and drove away, the guard fired shots at their car, hitting the rear tire and striking one of the robbers. The robbers continued driving for another mile before seeing the plaintiff by his parked car. The robbers jumped out of their vehicle, shot the plaintiff twice in the head, and stole his car. In his lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the security company owed him a duty of care to protect him from the actions of the robbers because its employee had shot at the robbers’ vehicle, creating a previously non-existent risk of harm to the plaintiff.
To prove a negligence claim in Maryland, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, the defendant breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered an injury as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty. Generally, a private person is under no special duty to protect another person from criminal acts by a third person. There are three exceptions, however: (1) if the defendant has control over the conduct of the third party; (2) if there is a special relationship between the defendant and the third person or between the defendant and the plaintiff; or (3) if there is a statute or ordinance that is designed to protect a specific class of people.
On appeal, the court concluded that none of the three exceptions applied in the case. The court also clarified that there is no exception to the general “no duty” rule for affirmative conduct on the part of the defendant that creates a previously non-existent risk of third-party harm. The court went on to find that no duty existed in this particular case under Maryland’s seven-factor test, which balances the foreseeability of harm along with other considerations to determine whether a duty was created.
The personal injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. represent plaintiffs in tort cases throughout Maryland. We have assisted victims in bringing wrongful death cases, premises liability claims, medical malpractice actions, and many other cases arising out of negligence. If you have been injured in an accident, contact a trusted lawyer for guidance by calling Foran & Foran, P.A. at (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Plaintiff Pursues Negligence Claim Against General Store and Ice Cooler Company, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 23, 2016
Plaintiff Appeals Decision in Personal Injury Claim Against Maryland Amusement Park, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published July 27, 2017