Parking lots are riddled with potential hazards, from potholes, to shopping carts, to inattentive drivers. It is not surprising, then, that there are thousands of people who are injured in Maryland parking lots each year. A significant number of these injuries are the result of slip-and-fall accidents. Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit arising out of a parking lot trip-and-fall.
As the court described the facts leading up to the filing of the case, the plaintiff was injured while she was returning a cart after shopping at the defendant grocery store. The plaintiff finished shopping and entered the shopping cart corral without issue, however, as the plaintiff was leaving the corral, she tripped on a raised crossbar connecting the ends of the corral. Evidently, the corral was hit by a delivery truck several months prior to the plaintiff’s accident, which bent the frame of the corral. As a result, the crossbar of the corral lifted off the ground by a little over an inch. It was this raised crossbar that caused the plaintiff to trip and fall.
The plaintiff initiated a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant. In response, the defendant argued that the plaintiff should not be permitted to recover for her injuries because the hazard that caused her injury, the raised crossbar, was open and obvious. The defendant explained that it had called to have the crossbar fixed, but hadn’t scheduled a day to have the repair completed. The defendant also noted that the plaintiff was able to safely enter the corral, suggesting she knew that the crossbar posed a potential hazard. The lower court agreed, and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.