In general, Maryland personal injury law provides that landowners owe a duty to those whom they allow onto their property. This duty typically requires that the landowner cure any known hazards, or warn visitors about dangers that cannot be remedied. However, many state legislatures have enacted statutes that exempt certain property owners from liability if someone is injured while using the property for a recreational purpose.
These statutes are generally referred to as recreational use statutes. In Maryland, the recreational use statute is contained in Maryland Code section 5-1104. The law provides that a landowner who allows others to use their property without charge for an educational or recreational purpose cannot generally be liable for a guest’s injuries. This statute applies to both public and privately held land. A recent case illustrates the type of issues that can come up when a defendant cites the recreational use statute as a defense.
According to the court’s opinion, two sisters attended a free “Second Sunday” concert at a public park. To access the park, the women parked their car on the street and then descended a flight of stairs down the grassy slope. Once the women got about halfway down the hill, they exited the stairs and found a place to watch the show.
After the concert, the women found themselves lower in the auditorium. They found the same set of stairs they used to descend into the auditorium; however, the lower section of the stairs did not have a handrail. As the women climbed the stairs, one of them fell, hitting her head on a concrete step. She died as a result of her injuries.
The woman’s family filed a personal injury claim against the city. In its defense, the city argued that it could not be held liable because it did not charge for access to the concert. In addition, the city claimed that the purpose of the woman’s visit was for recreation. The woman’s estate argued that, although no fee was charged by the city to access the park, the city’s purpose in putting on the concert was to promote its private interests, as well as those of a nearby public college.
The court determined that it should consider both the plaintiff’s purpose for attending as well as the defendant’s purpose in offering their property. After doing so, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should not be dismissed under the recreational use statute.
Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property in Maryland?
If you or loved one recently suffered injury as a result of a Maryland slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At our Maryland personal injury law firm, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent clients who were injured in all types of accidents, including Maryland premises liability cases. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation. Because we work on a contingency basis, we will not bill you for any of our services unless we can recover compensation on your behalf.