Holding a local government or municipality liable for negligence may be difficult in some cases. A Maryland injury attorney can assist plaintiffs by presenting the evidence persuasively to a judge or jury. In a December 19, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland injury claim against the city counsel, local government, and an excavation company following an accident involving a water meter. The case was brought before the Court of Special Appeals after the trial court granted summary judgment against the plaintiff.
The plaintiff in the case alleged that she was injured when a water meter cover opened and she stepped into the hole. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they had no notice of the allegedly defective water meter lid, nor did they have any duty to inspect in the absence of notice. The plaintiff contended that the defendants had notice because the excavation company was working in the area to repair water leaks. She also provided a letter from the city informing the company of the plaintiff’s suit. The letter contained a handwritten note to “take notice lid is broke” with a date.
In a Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that: (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the plaintiff suffered injury or loss, and (4) the injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty.
To establish the element of duty, the plaintiff must show the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged dangerous condition and the opportunity to remove the danger or warn of it. In the absence of actual notice, a city may have constructive notice of a dangerous road condition if, by virtue of its nature or the length of time it has existed, the municipality would have learned of it by exercising due care.
On appeal, the court explained that in response to the defendants’ properly supported summary judgment motion, the plaintiff bore the burden to present evidence that a material dispute existed. The court found that the plaintiff relied on documents that required inferences or speculation outside of those documents, but did not provide the additional factual support, either through affidavits or testimony, that was needed to establish notice. The court also noted that the documents referred to work that took place slightly south of the broken water meter location, and did not prove that the city should have been aware of the issue. Consequently, the appeals court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.
At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland accident lawyers provide dedicated legal representation to victims of negligence. We assist plaintiffs and their families in personal injury, premises liability, and wrongful death claims as well as medical malpractice suits. Call our office at (301) 441-2022 or submit the contact form on our website to make an appointment with one of our skilled injury attorneys today.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Decides Appeal Involving Pedestrian Fall on Icy, Broken Sidewalk, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published July 24, 2017
Maryland Plaintiff Wins Case Against County, Police Department After Violent Arrest, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published March 22, 2018