Maryland Premises Liability Attorney
Premises liability law holds landowners (and renter-tenants) legally responsible when someone else is injured on their property. If you have been hurt at another’s business or home, you may be entitled to fair compensation. But your rights depend upon a number of factors, including whether you had permission to be on the property. To completely understand this complicated area of personal injury law, you should speak with a Maryland premises liability lawyer who has experience litigating such claims. These claims range from slip and falls to carbon monoxide poisoning on another’s property.
The Maryland premises liability attorneys at our firm have experience working within the constraints of Maryland civil statutes, and we can help you to evaluate your chances of filing a successful claim. Call our law firm today to conduct your free initial consultation.
- Elements of a Claim
- Owner Liability
- Visitor Liability
- Public Property Liability
- Private Property Liability
- Establishing a Claim
- Negligent Security
- Importance of a Lawyer
Premises Liability in Maryland
Many premises liability cases are commonly called “slip and fall” civil actions. They usually happen at a business that is open to the public. Shopping malls, grocery stores, and other retail outlets are typical defendants where permission is assumed. All property owners are legally obliged to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner. If they fail in their obligation, they may be held legally accountable (liable) for harm that result from such negligence. This breach of the owner’s duty to protect visitors often occurs when the owner creates conditions, either through inattentiveness or outright failure to address hazards, that can result in injuries.
Premises liability also applies to owners – or renters – of private residences. However, the legal standards of duty of the “owner” are different. This is where “permission” comes in; as it depends on the purpose for the injured person’s visit to the residence. A trespasser rarely has legal standing to be compensated for injuries sustained while on the premises without owner permission. If owners are unaware of a trespasser’s presence, they rarely have a duty to warn a trespasser of any dangers. On rare occasions, courts have ruled if the owner is aware of a trespasser on his or her property or if they are aware trespassing has occurred, the owner may be obligated to exercise ordinary care – warning of a danger. Should someone suffer an injury while working on a construction site, they might also have a case with respect to premises liability. Those exceptions are complicated and rare, and are best-explained by an experienced Maryland premises liability attorney.
If, however, the harmed person is invited onto the property, he or she is classified as a social guest or a business invitee. But even those have subtle differences that may affect their right to compensation. Again, you should speak with a dedicated Maryland premises liability lawyer about the specific facts of your case.
- Hotel Injury
- Icy Sidewalk Injury
- Supermarket Injury
- Gym Injury
- Swimming Pool Injury
- Parking Lot Injury
- Commercial Property
Duty to Protect You from Harm
Generally, both guests and business invitees are entitled to the following duty of care by the owner; who is liable for physical harm caused by some condition on the premises if the plaintiff is able to prove the following three elements:
- The possessor knew or should have known of the condition, should have realized that it posed an unreasonable risk of harm to the visitor, and should have expected that the licensee (visitor) would not discover or realize the danger;
- The possessor failed to exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe, or to warn the subsequently injured visitor of the condition and corresponding risk;
- And, the visitor-plaintiff did not know – or have reason to know – of the condition and the risk involved.
All property owners (or legal tenants) must exercise reasonable care to insure your safety when you are present on their property; be it as an employee, social guest, or business invitee. There are even special requirements for owners of property that children could access. They must “reasonably” maintain their premises to protect you from accidents, physical harm, or criminal activity from the moment you arrive on their property until you leave its boundaries. This includes parking lots, driveways, and, in many cases, sidewalks in front of their premises. Most of these liability claims arise when someone is injured from some – but not all – of the following situations:
- A broken or poorly-maintained walkway, which can cause a slip and fall
- Falling objects
- Ignored debris; it can include man-made foreign substances or natural: such as leaves, water, and ice
- Failure to warn visitors of a hazard, commonly referred to as “improper signage”
- Unanticipated slips and falls on the owner’s premises
When bringing a premises liability claim, it is important to first identify who owns or possesses the property. The law states that a person is considered “in possession” of the property when that person:
- Occupies the property/land with the intent to control it
- Previously occupied the property with the intent to control it; or it is vacant and no other person has subsequently occupied that property with intent to control it
- Is entitled to immediate occupation of the property (due to recent purchase or lease agreement, but has yet to occupy it) if no other person is in possession of the property
Under certain additional circumstances, the owner of the property can be held responsible even if he/she did not know of the dangerous condition, but failed to properly monitor the property’s condition. For example, if a person steps into a hole in a lawn at an apartment complex that was undetected because the apartment’s management staff failed to monitor the lawn’s condition, or if a person ingested lead paint that wasn’t properly taken care of inside a building, that person may have the right to pursue compensation for his or her injuries.
Defendant Insurance Coverage
One of the most important elements in a premises law claim is determining whether the defendant can pay your damages. A defendant with no assets or other financial means may not be worth the time and expense of pursuing a claim. The main source of recovery is generally the defendant’s homeowner’s policy or – if the defendant owns commercial property – a business/commercial policy, or some other general liability policy.
If the owner has a mortgage: a homeowner’s, business owner’s, landlord’s or other policy is usually required to cover potential liability claims. There is one important exception; a landlord is not necessarily responsible for injuries that occur in a tenant’s apartment or other leased space, though such coverage is often required in the lease that is signed by the tenant. So if the leased space is a store or other commercial property, insurance coverage is likely available. However, not all residential tenants carry renter’s insurance.
Virtually all such policies contain a “duty to defend.” In broad terms, this means the insurance company will provide the defendant with a defense attorney and pays for all expenses. But it also typically means the insurance company is in control of the defense, though it is not the actual defendant. Some insurance companies are in the business of generating premiums first and paying claims last. Therefore, the attorneys that you may face may be focused on defending their true clients – the insurance company. That is why you may want to retain an aggressive and knowledgeable Maryland premises liability lawyer. If you think your injury may not fall under premises liability, learn more about other injury claims here.
Your Compensation Rights
Defending against an injury lawsuit can get very expensive, especially if there is a trial. Because of this, if the amount of a plaintiff’s claim is less than the cost of a trial — or the defendant’s position is weak — the insurance company will probably consider a fair settlement as a reasonable way to settle the issue. This is where an experienced Maryland premises liability lawyer’s ability to craft a strong plaintiff claim, then negotiate a fair settlement amount, is a distinct advantage. Being able to win damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and other harms and losses suffered without a trial – if the amount suits the plaintiff’s needs – is clearly preferable to the expensive and exhaustive alternative, for both sides.
Your attorney’s thorough investigation into the accident is absolutely crucial in winning your claim because the condition of the property can change very quickly and evidence can be lost or destroyed. If you, or a family member, have been injured on someone else’s property, it is in your best interest to contact the Maryland premises liability lawyers at our firm as soon as possible. Don’t let your compensation rights slip away due to delay. Call us for a complimentary appointment today. You owe nothing unless you are compensated.