Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Parking Lot Slip-and-Fall Case, Citing Plaintiff’s Failure to Establish That a Hazard Existed

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising several important issues that commonly arise in Maryland premises liability lawsuits. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed following a defense motion for summary judgment. Finding that the plaintiff could not establish the necessary elements of her case, the court affirmed the dismissal of her case.Legal News Gavel

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting the defendant fast-food restaurant with a few family members. The plaintiff’s nephew parked in the restaurant’s parking lot, and the group crossed the drive-thru lane and entered the restaurant.

When it came time to leave, they left the same way they had come in. However, this time, as the plaintiff approached her nephew’s car, she got distracted by one of the cars in the drive-thru lane. As she returned her attention to where she was going, she tripped and fell on a cement parking barrier, resulting in serious injuries. The barrier, which was a few inches high, was the type used to prevent vehicles from parking too far into a parking space.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the barrier presented an unreasonable risk of injury. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the manner in which the pavement of the drive-thru lane was painted caused the unpainted cement barrier to blend in with the ground, making it difficult to notice.

The restaurant argued that the plaintiff should have noticed the barrier because it was obvious. The plaintiff responded that she was necessarily distracted by the car in the drive-thru lane. Essentially, the plaintiff argued that her failure to notice the barrier should be excused because she was focusing her attention on safely crossing the drive-thru lane.

The lower court permitted the plaintiff’s claim to proceed on the theory that she was understandably distracted, and that was why she did not notice the barrier. However, on appeal, the court reversed that decision. The appellate court explained that, before analyzing whether the plaintiff’s failure to notice the barrier was excusable, the plaintiff must first establish that the barrier was indeed a hazard. Here, the court explained that the barrier was not a hazard, and thus, the plaintiff’s claim could not succeed. The court explained that these barriers are common in parking lots and do not present an unreasonable risk of injury.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured after slipping and falling on another party’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent victims in all types of personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice cases, including Maryland premises liability cases. To learn more about how we can help you recover compensation for the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Premises Liability Cases Involving Known and Obvious Hazards, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 16, 2018.

Maryland Court of Appeals Allows Premises Liability Case to Proceed Based on Defective Condition of a Property Built in 1990, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 2, 2018.

 

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