Elements of a Maryland Premises Liability Claim

Premises liability stems from the duty of an owner of property to a visitor. The basic tenets of the law are the same. However, the circumstances leading to the claim are different. Some claims stem from a slip and fall in a restaurant or some other public place. Premises liability cases may result from a death or injury involving swimming pools or any other specific circumstance dealing with that particular piece of real property.

The basic principle of a premises liability case is one where the premises is unfit for a particular use due to the negligence of another. For example, a restaurant owner with a restaurant in such unsafe conditions that is not safe and an individual visits the restaurant.

An experienced premises liability attorney can evaluate factors of their client’s premises liability claim in Maryland and work with them to determine a fair and reasonable resolution of the claim based on the injuries sustained and any expenses available to the injured client.

Factors of a Claim

The factors are all the same regarding the elements of the law in terms of the real estate. The real property owner has a duty to the invitee or licensee. A licensee is a legal term used to describe a social guest that is visiting property where the incident occurs. A licensor, on the other hand, is the property owner who grants the licensee permission.

The evaluation of responsibility or duty is whether the property owner knew or easily should have known of a dangerous condition and failed to correct it and whether the property owner had sufficient time to correct the deficiency.

Both can be established based on the facts and circumstances of any case. Whether it is a slip and fall, a drowning in a pool, or any other particular circumstance, there is at least a prima facie case of premises liability in Maryland.

Premises liability differs from other personal injury cases in that the actual premise is the mechanism of injury, such as negligent maintenance or ownership of the property which resulted in injuries to the innocent person.

Common Locations

Premises liability cases can take place at any real property, whether it is a private home, a commercial business, or any other form of real property.

However, the majority of cases stem from incidents occurring at commercial properties such as grocery stores, parking lots, condominiums, or swimming pools. Premises liability is directly related to the actual care of the property.

Accidents have a higher frequency of occurring in areas visited by large numbers of people. For example, premises liability cases can occur in a grocery store because it is a single location where many people congregate and could result in a high propensity of issues. Likewise, premises liability cases can occur in areas that may present a hazard or unsafe conditions such as a swimming pool or other unique feature of a particular property.

Determining Liability

Liability is determined by a judge or jury as a factfinder in a case such as this. Premises liability is rooted in negligence. Maryland premises liability requires that the plaintiff – the injured person, brings the lawsuit and presents the necessary facts and evidence to establish liability in their favor. At that point, the fact-finder makes a determination about liability or who is at fault.

Typically, the issues affecting premises liability are the legal defenses of contributory negligence or assumption of risk that would knock out a premises liability case.

Legal Status of a Visitor

The legal status of a visitor is important in premises liability cases. If a trespasser is on the property, then the duty owed to a trespasser is different than that of an invitee or a licensee. For example, if a condominium building has a pool that is open to its residents, that condominium association has a duty to provide a safe pool to the occupants of the condominium.

That duty is different for someone who climbs over a fence and breaks into the condominium premises in the middle of the night to use the pool as a trespasser. The condominium association does not have a duty to safeguard the pool in the middle of the night from a swimmer who had no business being there. The legal status of the person on the real property is an important factor when evaluating a premises liability case in Maryland.

Duty of Care

Owners of a property owe a duty to maintain the property in a suitable condition for its intended purpose. The duty can change depending on the nature of property. When the property is a home, that duty may be different than that of a restaurant or a supermarket.

Those duties may also differ from an apartment complex with a swimming pool for other maintenance issues that are required.

Strength of a Case

A strong or weak premises liability case in Maryland depends on the facts and circumstances of that individual case. The issues are whether the real property owner failed to maintain the property in a reasonable and safe manner and if a dangerous condition existed such as a slippery wet floor or some other condition. Was the property owner aware of it and was there sufficient time to rectify the problem? If those factors exist, there is at least a reasonable case for a premises liability claim. If those factors do not exist, there is likely no sufficient basis for a claim.

When there is a clear issue of contributory negligence or assumption of risk, a premises liability attorney may not take the case. Likewise, if the premises owner was unaware of the dangerous condition or did not have time to correct the dangerous condition, there would likely be no finding of primary negligence by the property owner. Consequently, that case would also be declined.

Working with an Attorney

Premises liability cases are very complex in the nature of bringing a claim, evaluating the injury, and also evaluating any legal defenses that may be available to the property owner.

It can be difficult to establish liability given the nature of laws surrounding premises liability cases. Therefore, each case is evaluated based on the facts and circumstances of that specific case. The attorney makes a determination about which case to take depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Anyone who is injured due to the negligence of another should consult with a premises liability lawyer quickly to evaluate their situation and determine if a claim is feasible based upon the facts and circumstances of that individual case.