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Maryland Plaintiff Sues City After Injury from Defective Storm Drain Gate

Defective, negligently maintained street infrastructure such as broken water meters or crumbling sidewalks can result in serious personal injuries to pedestrians.  In a March 12, 2012 case, the plaintiff in a Maryland injury lawsuit sued a city for negligence after falling on a broken storm drain grate and injuring her leg.  The case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland after the trial court entered judgment in favor of the City.

The plaintiff in the case was returning to her car after attending a professional football game.  As she walked among a crowd of fans, the plaintiff stepped onto a broken storm drain grate that was missing one of its metal bars.  The plaintiff’s foot and leg fell through the gap in the storm drain, causing her to fall.  After a fan helped her dislodge her leg from the storm drain grate, the plaintiff was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery on her leg.

The plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the City, alleging that it had been negligent in failing to properly maintain a storm drain and that was part of the street.  At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case at trial, the City moved for judgment, arguing that there was no evidence that it had actual or constructive notice of the defective storm drain.  The trial court granted the motion, and the issue was presented to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

In Maryland, local governments do not have immunity from liability for injuries caused as a result of its failure to keep its streets, as well as the sidewalks, footways and areas contiguous to them, in a reasonably safe condition.  A city’s liability for failing to maintain public streets and walkways in a reasonably safe condition depends upon evidence that the municipality had either actual or constructive notice of the existence of the unsafe condition.  A city may be found to have constructive notice of a defect resulting in an unsafe condition with evidence that, by virtue of the nature of the defect, or the length of time it has existed, the city would have learned of it by exercising due care.

At trial, the plaintiff presented photographs of the storm drain grate.  The appeals court found that the photographs did not provide any persuasive information that the missing bar on the storm drain grate had been a long-standing, dangerous condition.  Nor was there other evidence from which a jury could find, without speculation, that the gap in the storm drain grate had existed for a significant period of time.  The appeals court went on to affirm the judgment entered in favor of the City.

If you have been hurt in a trip and fall accident, a Maryland injury lawyer can help you determine your legal options.  At Foran & Foran, P.A., we can represent people in a wide-range of personal injury cases arising out of negligence, such as medical malpractice and premises liability actions.  Request a free initial consultation with one of our accident attorneys by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.

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