In a recent wrongful death case before a state appellate court, the court allowed a case to proceed against a property owner for the alleged defective condition of a building built in 1990. The plaintiffs filed a Maryland wrongful death case against the owner and property manager of a shopping center. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to warn a HVAC repairman that there was no roof access from a wall when he fell from the wall back in 2012. The worker was severely injured as a result of the fall, and died 12 days later from his injuries. The defendants argued the claims were barred by the statute of repose, because there was a 20-year limit on claims, as the building was completed in 1990.
Here, the statute stated that a claim cannot be filed for an injury “resulting from the defective and unsafe condition of an improvement to real property” if the injury occurs more than 20 years after “the date the entire improvement first becomes available for its intended use.” However, Maryland Code of Courts and Judicial Proceedings 5-108 states that the section did not apply “[i]f the defendant was in actual possession and control of the property as owner, tenant, or otherwise when the injury occurred” in certain causes of action, in certain causes of action involving asbestos, or in a cause of action for injury to real property resulting from a defective and unsafe condition of an improvement to real property under certain conditions.
The plaintiffs contended the claim fell under an exception, and the defendant argued that the exceptions only applied in asbestos cases. The court found the possession-and-control exception applied in non-asbestos cases, as the first time the exception was created, the court did not reference asbestos. Therefore, the court applied the exception to cases against anyone in possession or control of real property, and the plaintiffs’ claims were not barred by the statute of repose.
Statutes of Repose
A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations in that it limits the time during which certain claims can be filed. A statute of limitations limits the time to file certain claims, but may be extended in some cases, for example if an injury could not have been discovered until after the expiration of the statute of limitations. A statute of repose is generally more strictly construed because it protects potential defendants from liability that may arise well into the future, generally by putting a fixed time limit on the period of liability.
Contact a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, insurance companies routinely deny claims, delay access to medical treatment, and fail to pay for reasonable medical care. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent injury victims and their family members in cases against those who are responsible for their injuries. We have decades of experience assisting Maryland injury victims, and know what it takes to succeed on behalf of our clients. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Procedural Requirements in Maryland Personal Injury Cases Involving Government Defendants, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 15, 2018.
Pre-Suit Requirements in Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuits, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 1, 2018.