Local governments, like other property owners, have an obligation to keep public spaces safe for visitors. While the procedures involved in filing a case against a government are slightly different from those required in a Maryland premises liability lawsuit against a private individual or corporation, in each of these situations a plaintiff must be able to prove that the landowner’s negligence in maintaining their property resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
To prove that a landowner was negligent, a plaintiff must first show that the landowner knew of the hazard that caused their injuries. Once the defendant’s knowledge is established, the plaintiff must show that the landowner was somehow negligent in failing to remedy the hazard or warn of the hazard’s existence. Finally, a plaintiff must prove that their injuries were the result of the landowner’s negligence. This is referred to as “causation.” In a recent case involving a slip-and-fall injury that occurred at a cemetery, the court discussed the plaintiff’s burden to prove causation.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was visiting the gravesites of several family members in a cemetery that was owned by the defendant city when he stepped in a hole that was covered by grass. Evidently, the hole was deep enough such that the plaintiff fell down to his knee, folded over at the waist, and struck his head against the ground.
The plaintiff returned to the cemetery the next day to find two city employees filling holes with dirt. The plaintiff informed the employees that he had fallen into a hole the day before, and explained where the hole was located. The employees indicated that they were aware of the hole and planned to fill it later that day. The employees did not mention how long they had known of the hole’s existence.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city, as the owner and operator of the cemetery. The plaintiff claimed that the city was negligent for failing to fill the hole with dirt or for failing to warn visitors of the hole.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim based on the plaintiff’s inability to establish causation. For the purposes of its decision, the court assumed that the city failed to conduct an adequate inspection of the cemetery. However, the court went on to note that the plaintiff presented no evidence that a more thorough inspection of the cemetery ground would have resulted in the discovery of the hole. Thus, even if the city was negligent for not adequately inspecting the cemetery for holes, the court held that such negligence was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland personal injury law firm Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in all types of personal injury actions, including slip-and-fall accidents and other cases involving premises liability. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have suffered, call 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Issues Important Decision for Maryland Accident Victims with Claims Against the Federal Government, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 1, 2019.
Contributory Negligence in Maryland Premises Liability Cases, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 18, 2019.