Establishing the “Duty” Element of a Maryland Personal Injury Case

In order to hold another person or entity liable for injuries sustained in a Maryland accident, the defendant must have owed a duty to the plaintiff to protect the plaintiff from the harm the plaintiff suffered. For example, a person who falls on a sidewalk generally cannot hold another passerby liable for the injuries from the fall because the passerby was not involved in the fall and did not owe a duty to prevent the person’s fall or even to render aid to the person. However, for example, the city might be liable for the person’s injuries if it failed to repair the sidewalk. In such a case, the city might have had a duty to repair the sidewalk if it was made aware of the sidewalk’s dangerous condition, and may have failed to meet its duty by failing to take any action.

Under Maryland law, duty is characterized as an obligation to meet a certain standard of conduct towards another. In considering whether a defendant owed a duty to a plaintiff in a certain scenario, courts will consider the relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury and whether the harm the plaintiff suffered was foreseeable, among other things. A recent decision from another state appeals court illustrates the limits of a hotel’s duty to a guest in one scenario.

In that case, the plaintiff brought a wrongful death claim against the hotel on behalf of their deceased loved one. Evidently, the deceased accident victim was a guest at the hotel, which offered guests a free golf cart service to take guests around the property. Per the hotel’s policy, the golf cart would cross a local public road next to the hotel to drop guests off on the other side but otherwise did not travel on public roads. One night, the accident victim asked a bellman to give him a ride in the golf cart, and asked to go to a grocery store which was across a highway. Per the hotel’s policy, the bellman did not take the decedent to the store and instead dropped him off on the other side of the public road. The decedent was required to cross the highway to get to the store and while waiting to cross on foot, he was hit by a car and later died.

The court found that the hotel did not owe a duty to the decedent to ensure his safe crossing of the highway. It found the hotel did not create a foreseeable zone of risk such that it owed the decedent a duty of care. The court held that the hotel safely brought decedent to the edge of the highway in the golf cart and did not undertake to transport him beyond that point. Thus, the court found that the hotel no longer owed a duty of care to decedent after he voluntarily got down from the golf cart.

Call a Maryland Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Maryland car crash, or any other type of preventable accident, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys represent injury victims across Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Our law firm has years of experience in personal injury cases, coupled with the necessary skills to effectively handle your case. To learn more about how we can help you pursue compensation for your injuries, call (800) 654-1949 or contact us through our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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