The owners of businesses and nonprofit organizations, including churches, are required to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for employees, customers, and other members of the public. In the event that a hazardous condition results in an injury to an employee, customer or guest, property owners can be held accountable with a personal injury lawsuit. A case recently filed by a woman who was injured on the premises of a church has been dismissed, however, as the organization that she sued was not the legal owner of the property where she was injured.
According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff was employed by the defendant church as a security guard at the time of her injury. While at work, the plaintiff was instructed to escort a person off the property, when she tripped on a small piece of fencing surrounding a garden and suffered injuries. In addition to a workers compensation claim that she filed through her employer, the plaintiff also filed a premises liability claim against the church, alleging that they were negligent in failing to maintain their premises in a safe manner.
In response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the defendant put forth three defenses. First, the defendant argued that they were not the owners of the property where the plaintiff was injured, as another separate organization owns the property and the plaintiff simply uses it for church services every Sunday. Additionally, the defendant argued that the fence was an open and obvious hazard and that the plaintiff herself was negligent by failing to look out for and avoid the hazard. The trial court accepted all of the defendants’ arguments and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. Importantly, the court found that the plaintiff presented no evidence that the defendant actually owned the property where she was injured.
The plaintiff appealed the ruling to a state appellate court, where the lower judgment was upheld. The appellate court only addressed the first argument, that the defendant was not the owner of the property in question. The court found that the property where the plaintiff was injured was owned by a separate organization from the defendant, and the defendant could not be sued for the plaintiff’s claim. Based on this ruling the defendant’s arguments became moot, as the dismissal was affirmed.
Can Property Owners Be Held Liable for Slip and Fall Accidents
Yes, under the doctrine of premises liability, property owners may be liable for any injuries occurring on their land. However, these claims are often contested, so it is essential to work with an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer when pursuing a premises liability or slip and fall claim.
How to Successfully Pursue a Premises Liability Claim
If you or someone you know has been hurt in an accident caused by a dangerous condition or negligent person, you may be entitled to financial compensation. It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side to help make your case and pursue action against the appropriate parties, as sometimes things may not be as they appear. With the advice of a qualified Washington, D.C. slip and fall lawyer from Liebowitz and Mzhen you can confidently decide how to proceed. With our experience, you’ll see that your claim is being pursued properly. If you have questions about your case, call us today at 800-654-1949 and schedule a free and quick consultation with one of our attorneys.