In Maryland, landlords and other property owners owe a duty of care to their tenants and guests, and may be liable for injuries caused by their negligence. In an October 24, 2019 case, a plaintiff brought a Maryland personal injury negligence claim against the manager of her apartment complex and a paving contractor after she slipped and fell on a resurfaced asphalt parking lot. The case went to trial. After the close of the plaintiff’s case, the trial court granted judgment for the defendants on grounds of insufficient evidence of negligence of the defendants and assumption of the risk by the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed the decision, and the matter came before the Court of Special Appeals.
The plaintiff in the case had moved her car to a nearby shopping center due to repaving work being done to the parking lot of her apartment complex. She went to retrieve her car that afternoon and, seeing that the lot was still blocked off, parked on a nearby street. She began walking on a sidewalk back to her apartment building. Instead of continuing on that route, the plaintiff stepped on the parking lot to test its condition and found that it was firm. As she continued to walk across the parking lot, she reportedly slipped on a soft spot and fell on her right arm, injuring her back and head.
In Maryland, the owner or possessor of land may be liable for injuries to invitees by a condition on the land if they: (1) know or should realize that the condition involves an unreasonable risk of harm to the invitee, (2) should expect that the invitee will not discover or realize the danger or will fail to protect against it, and (3) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect the invitee against the danger.
The plaintiff argued that the defendants failed to give adequate warning to avoid contact with the parking lot. The defendants, in turn, argued that the plaintiff assumed the risk by walking across the blocked off lot. In Maryland, assumption of risk requires the defendants to show that the plaintiff had knowledge of the risk of danger, appreciated that risk, and voluntarily confronted the risk of danger.
On appeal, the court concluded that, even if the defendants had a duty to warn residents with something more than blocking the entrance of the parking lot, the plaintiff was aware of the danger and assumed the risk of injury. The court found that the plaintiff was aware that the parking lot had been resurfaced and knew that it could not be walked upon until it had dried. The court also noted that the plaintiff had alternate routes that she could have taken to reach her apartment building, including a bike path and a sidewalk that inclined on a dirt path. Accordingly, the appeals court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland personal injury attorneys can assist negligence victims and their families after an accident. We represent plaintiffs in premises liability cases, medical malpractice actions, and other negligence lawsuits in order to get them the compensation they deserve. Request a free consultation to discuss your injury case by calling Foran & Foran at (301) 441-2022 or using our website contact form.