People who are hurt on the property of another business or individual may be able to hold a negligent party responsible for their injuries, as long as that party owed them a duty of care. In Woods v. Dolgencorp, LLC (D. Md. Oct. 21, 2016), the plaintiff suffered injuries after tripping on a buckled mat in front of an ice cooler at a general store. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the general store as well as the business that provided and maintained the ice cooler, alleging it was negligent in properly placing the mat. The ice cooler defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiff because it did not own, control, or manage the store at which the accident occurred. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland heard the motion.
In Maryland, the elements of a negligence claim are: (1) that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) that the defendant breached that duty, (3) that the plaintiff suffered an actual injury or loss, and (4) that the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of the duty. In premises liability actions, the defendant’s duty is dependent on the status of the plaintiff on the property. In Woods, as a patron of the store, the plaintiff was an invitee on the premises. An owner is responsible for harm caused by a natural or artificial condition if the owner knew about or could have discovered the condition through the exercise of reasonable care, or the owner should have expected that invitees would not discover the danger or would fail to protect themselves against it, or the owner invited entry upon the land without making the condition safe or giving a warning.
In Woods, the ice cooler defendant had an agreement with the general store to provide and maintain the coolers in good condition and working order and clean any spills or debris after restocking the coolers. The defendant did not have an obligation to maintain any accessories to its coolers, such as the mats. In addressing the plaintiff’s negligence claim, the court found that the ice cooler defendant did not have possession of the premises or control over the mats on those premises. Furthermore, the defendant had no duty to maintain the area surrounding the ice cooler. Accordingly, and since the plaintiff was not injured on the ice cooler itself, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant on her negligence claim.
Similarly, with regard to the plaintiff’s premises liability claim, the court found that the defendant was not responsible for any harm caused by the condition of the general store. The court explained that the defendant was not present at the date of the accident, nor did it have notice of the buckled mat, nor did the defendant possess the property at issue. As a result, the plaintiff’s claims against the ice cooler defendant were dismissed.
The Maryland injury lawyers at Foran & Foran, P.A. understand that your negligence claim is an important matter that requires aggressive and diligent representation. We have helped many plaintiffs bring premises liability claims against careless businesses and property owners, and we have advocated for people in personal injury actions against incompetent health care providers, irresponsible drivers, and other negligent defendants. To discuss your case with a knowledgeable attorney at Foran & Foran, call (301) 441-2022 or contact us online and schedule a consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Plaintiff Wins on Appeal in Slip and Fall Case Against Convenience Store, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 5, 2016
Maryland Court of Special Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published July 15, 2015