Court Upholds Government Immunity in Recent Hiking Accident Case

Recently, a state court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a young man who was seriously injured while hiking in a city-owned park after hours. The case required the court to determine if the city was entitled to government immunity regarding the plaintiff’s claim that the city should have installed a retaining wall near the trail’s edge. Ultimately, the court concluded that the city was entitled to immunity because the plaintiff’s allegations involved the design of the trail, which was covered under the state’s official immunity.

The case is important for Maryland premises liability plaintiffs because Maryland courts apply similar laws in cases against local governments.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and several friends snuck into a city-owned park after dark to go “ghost hunting.” While the plaintiff was making his way down a steep embankment to the trail below, he lost his footing, fell, and rolled down the hill. When the plaintiff reached the trail, he was traveling with so much momentum that he slid across the trail and over the ledge. The plaintiff fell about 10 feet before landing on the ground and then slamming into a tree.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city, claiming that the city was negligent in failing to place a guard rail along the trail. The city claimed that it was entitled to official immunity.

The Court’s Decision

The court agreed with the city and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The court explained that the plaintiff’s allegations involved the design of the trail, which is specifically covered under the state’s trail immunity statute. The plaintiff’s argument that his injuries were not caused by a condition of the trail but by the absence of a guard rail did not convince the court that immunity should not apply.

Maryland’s Recreational Use Statute

As noted above, Maryland applies a similar – although slightly different – law in these cases. Under Maryland’s recreational use statute, landowners cannot be held liable for injuries occurring on their land if they allow visitors to use their land for recreational purposes free of charge. Thus, since the plaintiff in the case was engaged in “ghost hunting,” which courts would likely determine to be a recreational activity, immunity would likely attach. Additionally, the fact that the plaintiff was illegally trespassing at the time would likely mitigate any duty the city owed him.

Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on another party’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While issues of immunity may arise in some cases, you should not assume that to be the case. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent victims in all types of Maryland premises liability and wrongful death claims, including those occurring on publicly owned land. We are accustomed to dealing with immunity issues and have had success explaining to courts why immunity should not attach. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyer today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Because Hazard Was “Open and Obvious”, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 18, 2018.

Court Discusses Admissibility of Social Media Evidence in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 2, 2018.

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