Under Maryland premises liability law, a landlord may be held responsible if its negligence caused a personal injury to a tenant. In a March 1, 2019 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland negligence claim against his landlord after he was assaulted on the premises. A lower court held that under the circumstances alleged by the plaintiff, the defendant did not have a duty to protect the plaintiff from criminal activity. The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.
The plaintiff in the case paid the defendant a monthly free to park his ice cream truck on its premises. After parking his truck one night, the plaintiff was robbed and shot multiple times by two armed assailants. The plaintiff argued that, due to a prior robbery that had occurred in the parking lot several years ago, the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to protect him from the foreseeable risk of harm of the robbery.
In Maryland, a negligence claim requires four elements: (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the plaintiff suffered an injury, and (4) the injury was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
A landlord has a duty of reasonable care to keep the premises safe and to protect against known, or reasonably foreseeable, risks. Generally, there is no special duty under Maryland law requiring a landlord to protect its tenants from criminal acts committed by third parties on its property. However, if the landlord knows, or should know, of criminal activity against individuals or property in the common areas, the landlord then has a duty to take reasonable measures, in view of the existing circumstances, to eliminate the conditions contributing to the criminal activity. This duty arises primarily from actual criminal activities existing on the landlord’s premises and not from knowledge of general criminal activities in the neighborhood.
On appeal, the court noted that on the day of the robbery, the defendant had cameras surveilling the parking lot, a barbed wire fence, and security personnel patrolling the premises. The court held that the sole instance of a similar crime that had occurred nine years ago and did not involve harm to the victim was insufficient, as a matter of law, to create a duty for the defendant to provide security measures to prevent the conditions that led to the plaintiff’s injuries. Accordingly, the judgment in favor of the defendant was affirmed.
If you are seeking legal recourse after an accident, the Maryland injury attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. can advise you of your options. We represent plaintiffs in medical malpractice actions, premises liability claims, car and motorcycle accident cases, and other personal injury suits arising out of negligence. Call our office at (301) 441-2022 or contact us online to request a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Plaintiff Pursues Appeal Against Clothing Store After Trip and Fall Injury, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published May 15, 2018
Department Store Customer Injured in Escalator Accident Pursues Maryland Negligence Claim, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published September 9, 2018