Maryland Premises Liability Cases
Every year, many people are injured on someone else’s property. Sometimes the injuries are minor, but other times they can be significant. Although they are more commonly referred to as “slip and falls” such claims are known in the legal world as premises liability claims and they require very specific investigation and knowledge of the law in order to prevail. What follows is a brief explanation of premises liability claims in Maryland, what factors are used to evaluate and analyze them, and how a skilled and experienced attorney can help navigate these personal injury claims and help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your physical injuries and emotional distress.
Status of Injured Party
Whether you are entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from a slip and fall depends on the status at the time you were injured. Maryland law recognizes four categories of Plaintiffs: (1) An invitee, (2) a social guest or licensee by invitation, (3) a bare licensee, and (4) a trespasser.
There is a full discussion of these different categories in the Slip and Fall section of this website, but for purposes of this topic, it should be noted that your status on the property at the time of the injury will in many instances determine whether you have a claim. In fact, it is fairly common that two separate incidents with identical underlying facts could result in different outcomes depending on the status of an injured party at the time. You should always rely on an experienced personal injury lawyer to review the facts of your case and make a determination not only as to which category you fall into, but whether the facts of your case provide a viable premises liability claim.
Notice and Opportunity
Most premises liability claims in Maryland occur when the injured party is an invitee.
In those situations, Maryland law requires that you demonstrate not only that the hazardous condition existed on the defendant’s property, but that they either knew or should have known that it existed and also that the owner had a reasonable opportunity to remedy the condition.
In other words, you are not automatically entitled to compensation simply because you injured yourself on the property of another. You have to actually establish the negligence or wrongdoing of the defendant in order to succeed.
This means that legal defenses like contributory negligence and assumption of risk are all available to the defendant property owner. Additionally, the defendant can argue that the alleged dangerous condition was “open and obvious” to argue that the Plaintiff should have been able to avoid it.
The notice and opportunity requirement puts the burden on the Plaintiff to establish how long the hazardous condition had existed prior to the incident and also whether the property owner had a reasonable opportunity to remedy the hazardous condition even if they had notice.
These questions are fact-specific and will depend on the individual case. Slipping on black ice that may have formed over hours is different than slipping on water in a grocery store that someone may have spilt less than a minute before the incident.
What Does This Mean for Me?
It is critical that you gather all the information your personal injury attorney might need in order to properly evaluate your trip and fall claim. Examples of information that would be important are:
- Photos of the scene of the incident while the hazardous condition still exists.
- Any witness names and contact information.
- Copies of any incident reports or police reports.
- If it is in or at a commercial area, ask whether there are any videos that may have captured the incident. Video evidence can be immensely helpful and is also very instructive for juries if the case ever goes to trial.
It is also critical that you contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Key pieces of evidence that could affect the outcome of your case may well be lost if you delay. Time is of the essence and you need to make sure that you maximize your chances of prevailing in your claim and for being compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
So if you were injured on someone else’s property in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or anywhere in the state of Maryland, call us at 443-275-6345 for your free consultation. There is no fee unless we recover. Let us fight for you!
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