Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a woman who tripped on a raised portion of the sidewalk that was maintained by the defendant city. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to prove that the city should have been aware of the defect’s existence.The case discusses the concept of “constructive notice,” which is important in Maryland personal injury cases. Generally speaking, a Maryland slip-and-fall plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant landowner knew or should have known of the hazard that caused their injuries. However, establishing that a party had actual knowledge of a hazard can be difficult because it would require the plaintiff to be able to see inside the mind of the defendant.
Thus, courts allow for plaintiffs to circumstantially establish knowledge of a hazard through other relevant facts. This concept is called constructive knowledge. Essentially, the idea is that courts are comfortable imputing knowledge when a reasonably attentive person would have noticed the hazard.