When someone slips and falls in public in Maryland, they may feel embarrassed and try to pretend that it never happened. Often, they will just assume that it was their fault, and go about their day. Even if injured, they might think that it is their fault because no one pushed them or tripped them, and they were the only ones around when they fell. While sometimes people fall or trip for no reason, oftentimes, falls are the result of a hazardous or dangerous condition. For example, people may fall because of a sticky or slippery substance on the floor, the floor not being even, or different heights between steps. In these cases, it may not be their fault at all, but rather the fault of those who own or maintain the property.
Maryland law allows those injured in such cases to file a certain type of negligence lawsuit against the owner of the property: premises liability. To be held responsible, a court must find that property owners either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, but yet did not fix it or warn you about it. Additionally, a court must find that the plaintiff was not a trespasser on the property—a property owner does not owe a duty of care to those who are on their property illegally.
For an example of a premises liability claim, take a recent appellate case concerning a plasma donation center. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was a donor at the center and was walking into the bathroom when he fell, hit his head on a sink, and suffered severe injuries. According to the plaintiff, when he was laying on the floor he noticed that there was liquid on it, and some of that liquid got onto his shirt. He also stated that he noticed dirty footprints in the liquid. He filed a premises liability suit against the plasma donation center, alleging that they either knew or should have known about the liquid on the floor, and that it created a dangerous condition. Evidence presented in this suit included testimony that the employees of the center used separate bathrooms, and that the bathrooms were generally not cleaned by the center until after 7 p.m. each night, meaning the center would not have known about the liquid.