Plaintiff Alleges Injuries Caused by Defective Door in Maryland Premises Liability Claim Against Strip Mall

After some types of accidents, it may be difficult for a person to remember the circumstances leading up to their injury, or understand exactly how it occurred. In a recent Maryland negligence case, the plaintiff could not remember the events leading up to a fall that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.  She filed suit against the owners of the store and strip mall where she was injured, alleging negligence claims.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland decided the matter in an October 22, 2019 decision.

The plaintiff in the case suffered a head injury as she exited a store located in a strip mall.  Although the plaintiff did not remember anything about the accident, the store owner was present at the time.  He testified that while he did not see the plaintiff fall, he saw her backing out of the door with her hands full.  Shortly thereafter, he saw the plaintiff on the ground and went to help her.  Two days after the fall, the plaintiff was hospitalized with a hematoma, consistent with having fallen and struck her head, and underwent emergency surgery.

The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the defendants, alleging in the complaint that her injuries were caused by a defective door.  Specifically, she alleged that the door suddenly and without warning flung open as she exited the store, causing her to fall and hit her head onto the concrete sidewalk.  The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, concluding that there was no evidence of any defect in the door, nor that she fell due to an issue with the door.  The plaintiff subsequently appealed the decision.

To prevail in Maryland negligence action, the plaintiff must establish the following elements: (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss; and (4) the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty.  The defendants in the case acknowledged that they owned the plaintiff the highest standard of care as a business invitee.

On appeal, the court ultimately held that, even assuming the defendants had breached their duty to the plaintiff, there was not sufficient evidence to show that their actions were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.  The appeals court reasoned that nothing in the record showed what caused the plaintiff to fall.  In the absence of any evidence that the door actually struck the plaintiff, the court found that the plaintiffs’ allegations were too speculative to establish the element of causation.  The appeals court therefore affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

If you were injured due to the carelessness of another person or business, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.  The Maryland premises liability lawyers at Foran & Foran represent injury victims and their family members in actions arising out of negligence, including wrongful death and medical malpractice claims.  To speak to a qualified attorney about your case, call our office at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online and request a free consultation.

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