Articles Posted in Premises Liability

When someone is injured on the property of a person, business, or government entity, the injured party may be able to seek compensation for their injuries through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. In order to be successful in a premises liability lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to establish certain elements. Specifically, an accident victim must be able to show that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Fallen TreeA recent appellate court case filed by a plaintiff who was injured by a fallen tree branch illustrates which elements a plaintiff must prove in order to be successful in a premises liability claim.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented an apartment in a complex that was owned by the defendants. During a storm, a tree was seriously damaged, and a portion of the tree ended up being suspended between the tree’s trunk and the gutter of the apartment complex.

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Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit dealing with the naming of government defendants in a personal injury case. The case is instructive for Maryland premises liability plaintiffs because similar requirements are in place here in Maryland that may prevent a plaintiff’s full recovery if she fails to name certain parties in her complaint.

BoardwalkThe Facts of the Case

After a young girl died in an amusement park accident on a New Jersey boardwalk, her parents filed a premises liability lawsuit against several defendants, all of which were related to the amusement park operation. At the time of the accident, the plaintiffs’ daughter was on a school trip. The plaintiffs did not name their daughter’s school in the lawsuit.

In a pre-trial motion, the defendants collectively moved to add the daughter’s school, arguing that there was evidence suggesting the school officials were also negligent and partially responsible for the girl’s death. However, the defendants failed to provide timely notice of the pending lawsuit to the school.

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Swimming pools are a great way to bring friends and family together on those hot summer days. However, those who have swimming pools on their property assume a good deal of responsibility to avoid accidental drownings. Indeed, Maryland swimming pool deaths account for nearly 400 fatalities each year and represent about 20% of all drowning deaths in the state.

Swimming Pool WaterThose who have swimming pools on their property must take adequate precautions to ensure that those who use the pool are safe. Largely, local regulations govern which precautions are necessary. A recent personal injury case illustrates the difficulties one wrongful death plaintiff had when attempting to establish liability on the part of a condo association that operated the pool where his son drowned.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s son was swimming at a swimming pool located in a condominium complex where his aunt lived. At the time, the boy’s aunt was not present, but he was with other family members. The group used the aunt’s key card to gain access to the pool and did not seek approval from the condo association to use the pool.

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In Maryland, whenever someone is injured on the property of a person, business, or government entity, the victim may be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. Proving a premises liability lawsuit in Maryland requires a plaintiff to establish certain elements, which can vary depending on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. For example, a “business invitee” is owed a higher duty of care than someone who enters another party’s land without permission.

Swimming PoolGenerally speaking, a Maryland premises liability plaintiff must prove that the landowner knew or should have known about the hazard but failed to take corrective action to remedy the harm. The plaintiff will also need to establish that they were unaware of the hazard that caused their injury. Importantly, a plaintiff must also specify the alleged act of negligence they claim caused their injury. A recent case illustrates how one plaintiff’s failure to include an additional theory of liability prevented him from arguing that theory on appeal.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was working with the defendant realtor to find an investment property. The defendant had a listing in mind that he thought would be a good fit for the plaintiff. The property had a pool in the back yard, which the defendant had arranged to be professionally serviced and then emptied prior to listing the property for sale.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a premises liability case in which the plaintiff was injured by a falling tree branch while visiting a public marine park. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the trail immunity, which confers immunity to state and local governments when someone is injured while using a public trail. Ultimately, the court concluded that since the plaintiff’s injury was caused by the falling tree branch, rather than the trail itself, immunity did not attach, and the plaintiff was permitted to continue forward with her lawsuit.

Live Oak TreeThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and a friend were visiting Mission Bay Park, which is the largest marine park in the United States. The two were walking on or near a path when a branch from a eucalyptus tree fell, injuring the plaintiff. She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the government entity in charge of maintaining the park, claiming that the tree was negligently maintained.

The government claimed it was immune from liability under trail immunity. However, the court explained that the injury was not caused by a defect or dangerous condition of the trail itself, but instead by the negligently maintained tree. Thus, trail immunity did not apply.

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Maryland premises liability lawsuits are often centered around the relationship between the parties. For example, land and business owners owe a greater duty of care to those whom they invite onto their property than those who gain entry by accident or through trespassing. Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a slip-and-fall case brought by a tenant in a condominium complex against the condo association and the property management company. The court ultimately dismissed the case against the defendants because no landlord-tenant relationship could be shown, illustrating the importance of naming the proper parties in a Maryland premises liability lawsuit.

Dark StaircaseThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was living in a condo that she rented from the owner. The plaintiff had an oral lease with the owner; no written lease existed. While living in the condo, the plaintiff complained to the condo association several times about the lack of lighting near a specific set of stairs; however, the association took no action. One day, the plaintiff slipped and fell while descending the stairs. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, naming both the condominium association and the property management company responsible for the complex’s maintenance.

The defendants argued that the plaintiff should not be entitled to recover compensation because she was aware of the hazard that ultimately caused her fall. In response, the plaintiff cited the “necessity rule,” which allows for recovery even when an accident is caused by a known hazard if the tenant must cross the hazard by necessity. The trial court agreed with the plaintiff, and the defendants’ motion for summary judgment was denied. The defendants then appealed to a higher court.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Colorado issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by the parents of a young girl who was seriously injured while playing in her school’s playground. Ultimately, the court concluded that the zip-line on which the girl was playing did not constitute a “dangerous condition” and upheld the school’s governmental immunity.

Zip LineThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs’ daughter was playing on a zip-line in her school’s playground when she fell from the apparatus and fractured her wrist and forearm. There was a sign next to the zip-line stating “adult supervision required”; however, it was not clear if there was a school employee nearby when the accident occurred. After their daughter recovered, the parents filed a premises liability lawsuit against the school.

Initially, the school asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that under state law, the school was entitled to government immunity. However, the plaintiffs argued that under the same state law, immunity is not proper when a government is responsible for a “dangerous condition” that is on public property. Thus, the question for the court was whether the zip-line constituted a dangerous condition.

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When a party files a personal injury case against a defendant, the defendant has the opportunity to argue one or more defenses in hopes of escaping liability. In some cases, the ultimate determination comes down to which witness is more believable. However, in other cases, the facts are not necessarily contested, and the parties argue whether a legal defense applies.

FiremenOne common defense in Maryland personal injury cases is “assumption of the risk.” The doctrine of assumption of the risk stands for the proposition that a person cannot seek to hold another party liable for injuries they sustained while engaging in an activity that they knew was risky. A recent case brought by a firefighter illustrates this principle.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a firefighter who was called to assist in the efforts to put out a wildfire that had gotten out of control. The firefighters set up a headquarters inside the center of an oval racetrack and set up camp outside the track. However, by the time the plaintiff arrived, all of the camp spots had been taken. She then sought permission to camp inside the track. She was given permission and spent the first night there without a problem.

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Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is emitted through chemical reactions that occur during the operation of certain machinery. For example, carbon monoxide is a byproduct that is emitted when running cars and trucks, gas ranges, furnaces, grills, stoves, and lanterns. Most homes and business contain at least one appliance that emits carbon monoxide.

Indoor PoolCarbon monoxide is toxic to humans, and if present in sufficient amounts, it can result in death. Carbon monoxide tends to build up in areas without sufficient ventilation. The side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, stomach aches, fatigue, weakness, and confusion. Often, those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning feel as though they are intoxicated and want to go to sleep.

Carbon monoxide is responsible for more than 20,000 emergency room visits each year and an additional 400 deaths. The young and the elderly are most at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, but all ages are at risk. While the gas is very dangerous, carbon monoxide detectors are very effective at detecting abnormally high levels of the gas in the air, and they can alert guests and residents that they need to evacuate when carbon monoxide levels get dangerously high. However, not all states require homes and businesses to install carbon monoxide detectors.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that was brought by a woman who slipped and fell on a “corn hole” game board as she was talking to a sales associate in a car dealership’s showroom. The court ultimately determined that because the evidence presented showed the plaintiff had successfully negotiated her way around the board several time before, and because it was open and obvious, the defendant was entitled to summary judgment.

Banana PeelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff went with a friend to the defendant’s car dealership to look at the selection of available pick-up trucks. Upon arrival, the plaintiff saw a sales associate in an office across the show room. She crossed the show room, passing a four-foot-long board that was part of a corn hole game. The plaintiff and her friend spoke to the associate, and then made their way out into the lot. A short time later the two came back into the show room and went back to the sales associate’s office, again making their way past the corn hole board.

The plaintiff and her friend had a brief conversation with the associate before leaving his office. On her way out of the associate’s office, he stopped her to ask her a question. She briefly responded and then continued her exit. However, as she did, she tripped and fell on the board, injuring her knee. The plaintiff then filed a premises liability lawsuit against the car dealership, claiming that it was negligent in the placement of the game board.

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