Health care facilities, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and outpatient treatment facilities owe a duty of care to their patients and visitors. The duty of care is a facet of the facility’s obligation to prevent hazards and unreasonable risk of harm to those on their property. Hospital injury cases tend to fall under Maryland medical malpractice or premises liability laws. In contrast, hospital visitor injury claims are a bit more convoluted but generally fall under premises liability theories of negligence.
Maryland premises liability claims may apply in cases when a person suffers injuries because of a dangerous condition at another’s public or private property. The law provides property owners and occupiers to keep their land or business reasonably safe for individuals they can reasonably expect will enter their property. Challenges often arise when the property owner asserts that they did not owe a duty to the injury victim, based on their visitor status.
There are four types of visitor classifications for Maryland premises liability purposes. These classifications include invitees, licensee by invitation, bare licensee, and trespassers. Invitees are usually business guests or customers. Property owners have the duty to keep the property safe by engaging in inspections, protecting the visitor from foreseeable dangers, and warning them of any potentially dangerous conditions. Licensee by invitation is social guests, such as a guest at a party. In these cases, even though they are invited, a property owner must only warn the licensee of dangerous conditions the owner knows about, but they don’t need to inspect the property. Bare licensees are those who enter another’s property with consent and knowledge, but for the visitor’s purpose or interest. This may include solicitors or possibly hospital visitors. In these cases, the property owner must refrain from purposefully injuring the bare licensee or creating new dangers without warning. Finally, trespassers are those that enter another’s a property without permission. In these cases, the owner must only refrain from intentionally hurting the individual.
Many courts classify hospital visitors as invitees; however, the law is evolving and is not clear-cut. For instance, an appellate court recently issued an opinion stemming from injuries a man suffered in a hospital parking lot while visiting his wife. At trial, the hospital successfully moved for summary judgment, arguing that they did not owe him a duty of care to inspect the property because he was a licensee. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that he was an invitee, and even if he was a licensee, the hospital had a duty to keep the parking lot in a reasonably safe condition. Ultimately, the court found in the plaintiff’s favor and reversed the grant of summary judgment.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Maryland Accident?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of another’s negligence, contact Lebowitz & Mzhen to discuss the possibility of filing a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. The experienced, compassionate attorneys at our office take pride in representing injury victims. Our law firm handles various civil cases, including those stemming from motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, product liability, birth injuries, medical malpractice, and construction site accidents. Contact our office at 800-654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.