Limitations on a Maryland Landowners’ Liability During Recreational or Educational Activities

Generally, landowners owe a duty of care to people who come on their land, the extent of which depends on the relationship between the parties and the circumstances of the incident. Maryland’s Recreational Use Statute is an exception in that, when the statute applies, a landowner owes no duty of care to others, allowing them to escape liability in a Maryland premises liability case.

A recent case is an example of how landowners may avoid liability in such cases. In that case, a woman was injured while she was attending a free concert at a university. As she had been leaving the concert, she fell on a staircase with no handrails. She sustained serious injuries and died as a result. Her estate and her children filed a wrongful death claim against the university.

The university claimed that it was immune from suit under the state’s Recreational Property Act. Under the state’s law, a landowner does not have a duty to keep premises safe if others are using the land for recreational purposes. The concert took place at a county park, but the university had a permit to use it for the concert series. The woman’s family agreed that attending the free concert was a recreational activity. However, the family argued that the purpose of the concert series was mostly commercial. They noted that there were food and drinks available for purchase, that sponsors had tents and logos, and that it provided the university with a branding opportunity.

However, the appeals court held that the relevant inquiry was not the property owner’s subjective intent or whether the owner received an indirect financial benefit. Instead, the relevant inquiry was whether the landowner invited people onto the property to participate in a recreational activity or whether they were invited to engage in commercial activity. Considering this, the court found that at the time of the concert, the nature of the activity and of the property were recreational. In that case, the attendees were not required to buy food or drink and there was no evidence that the concert was organized to benefit the sponsors or the vendors. There was also no evidence that the university gained a financial benefit from the concert series.

Maryland’s Recreational Use Statute

Maryland’s Recreational Use Statute became law in Maryland in 1966, and limits a landowner’s liability toward people who enter the land “for any recreational and educational purpose” if the landowner made the land available to the public for those purposes. Under the statute, a landowner “owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use” by others for a recreational or educational purpose, or to warn others “of a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity” if they are entering for those purposes.

Contact a Maryland Premises Liability Lawyer

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, contact a Maryland premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The Maryland premises liability lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, have successfully represented plaintiffs in premises liability suits for years. Our lawyers understand the complex issues that come up in personal injury cases and we have the tenacity and resources to go after all parties that may be responsible for causing your injury. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at (410) 654-1949 or contact us online.

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