Maryland Premises Liability Cases Involving Known and Obvious Hazards

All Maryland land owners have a duty to make sure that they maintain a safe premises for those whom they invite onto their property. If a property owner fails to fix a known hazard, or fails to warn visitors about a dangerous condition of the property, the landowner may be held liable for any injuries through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

Not all injuries that occur on another’s land, however, will result in the landowner being held liable; an injury victim must be able to establish the elements of a premises liability lawsuit in order to recover for their injuries. Traditionally, these lawsuits are governed by the common-law principle of negligence, which requires plaintiffs to establish that the landowner violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant’s violation of that duty was the cause of their injuries.

When it comes to defending against Maryland premises liability cases, landowners often make two arguments. First, that they were unaware of the hazard and thus did not have the opportunity to fix it. And second, that the hazard was known to the plaintiff or was so obvious that no duty arose to warn the plaintiff about it. A recent case illustrates the second of these two examples.

The Facts

The plaintiff was visiting her husband at the hospital, who had recently been admitted. During the visit, the plaintiff’s husband asked if she could get him a glass of water. The plaintiff walked across the room, got a glass of water and then, on the way back, tripped on some cords that ran across the floor of the room.

The plaintiff explained that she did not see any cords on the floor prior to her fall. However, she admitted to seeing a telephone on her husband’s bedside table. The plaintiff argued that the hospital was negligent in allowing the cords to run across the floor. The defendant argued that the plaintiff either knew of the hazard because she was aware of the phone, or should have known of it because the cords running across the floor were an obvious hazard.

The court agreed with the plaintiff, finding that there was no evidence she knew about the placement of the cords, even if she was aware there was a telephone in the room. The court held that being aware of the presence of a telephone would not necessarily lead someone to believe that the cords to the phone were running across the floor.

The court then considered whether the cords were an obvious hazard, ultimately determining that the defendant failed to prove they were obvious. The court explained that the cords ran flush against the floor and were partially obscured by the bed-side table. Thus, the court held that there was a genuine issue of fact as to obviousness of the hazard presented by the cords. As a result, summary judgement in favor of the defense was not appropriate.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims in a wide range of cases, including those arising from serious slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Procedural Requirements in Maryland Personal Injury Cases Involving Government Defendants, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 15, 2018.

Maryland Court of Appeals Allows Premises Liability Case to Proceed Based on Defective Condition of a Property Built in 1990, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 2, 2018.

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