Accidents can happen anywhere, and when they do, the question of responsibility arises. If you're injured while on someone else's property, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim. Premises liability is a legal concept that holds property owners accountable for injuries that occur on their premises due to negligence. Each state in the United States has its own laws governing premises liability, and in this blog post, we'll take a closer look at how Maryland handles these cases.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a legal doctrine that imposes a duty of care on property owners to maintain a safe environment for visitors and guests. When a property owner fails to uphold this duty, they may be held liable for any injuries or damages that occur as a result.
Types of Visitors:
In Maryland, visitors are typically categorized into three groups:
Invitees: These are individuals who are invited onto the property for business purposes, such as customers in a store or clients visiting an office. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care and must regularly inspect and maintain their premises to prevent hazards.
Licensees: Licensees are social guests or individuals with implied permission to be on the property. Property owners must warn licensees of known dangers that are not obvious to them.
Trespassers: Trespassers are individuals who enter the property without permission. Generally, property owners owe limited duty to trespassers and must avoid causing intentional harm.
Common Causes of Premises Liability Claims:
Several factors can contribute to premises liability claims, including:
a) Slip and Fall Accidents: These occur when visitors slip, trip, or fall due to hazardous conditions like wet floors, uneven surfaces, or poorly maintained walkways.
b) Negligent Security: Property owners may be liable if inadequate security measures lead to criminal attacks, such as assaults, robberies, or burglaries.
c) Dog Bites: Maryland follows a strict liability rule, holding dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their pets, regardless of the animal's previous behavior.
d) Dangerous Property Conditions: This includes unmarked hazards, broken stairs, faulty elevators, or inadequate lighting that pose risks to visitors' safety.
Proving Premises Liability:
To succeed in a premises liability claim in Maryland, the injured party (plaintiff) must establish the following elements:
Duty of Care: The property owner owed a duty of care to the injured person based on their visitor status.
Breach of Duty: The property owner breached their duty by failing to maintain a safe environment or address known hazards.
Causation: The property owner's breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff's injuries.
Damages: The plaintiff suffered actual damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, due to the accident.
Comparative Negligence in Maryland:
Maryland follows a "pure" contributory negligence rule, which means that if the injured person is found to be even the slightest bit at fault for the accident, they may be barred from recovering any compensation. This strict standard highlights the importance of seeking legal advice promptly to assess the viability of a claim.
Premises liability is a crucial aspect of personal injury law in Maryland. If you've been injured on someone else's property due to their negligence, it's essential to understand your rights and the potential for seeking compensation. Consultation with an experienced premises liability attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the law and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages. Remember, timely action is essential, so don't delay if you believe you have a valid premises liability claim in Maryland. Stay informed, stay safe, and protect your rights.