As with other states, Maryland law mandates that property owners and business
owners have a duty to create a safe environment for people who enter their
premises. Injuries can take place in a variety of locations, including
retail stores, business complexes, offices, restaurants, shopping centers,
and even parking lots. Injuries can also occur at someone’s home,
in their pool, or in a vacation property or hotel.
Types of Plaintiffs in a Premises Liability Case
In Maryland, the duty owed varies by the classification of the plaintiff
in a premises liability cause of action. The three main categories are
invitee, licensee, and trespasser.
You might be surprised to hear that there is a duty owed to a trespasser
at all, but the law mandates that you are responsible for not intentionally
harming them. So, you do not owe them the highest duty of care, but you
do have to be careful.
A licensee is someone who is on the property for any other reason apart
from business. An example of a licensee would be someone who is invited
to a friend’s house for a party.
An invitee would be someone who is on the property for business reasons.
This would be your customers if you have a store or restaurant, for example.
Property owners and businesses owe the highest duty of care to invitees.
Breach of Duty
There are a number of ways a business owner can be found negligent in a
premise liability case. Some of the most common ways include:
- Failure to warn about a hazard
- Failure to remove hazards
- Failure to maintain a property
There is an important related topic to be familiar with called attractive
nuisance. This applies when someone trespasses on a property due to an
“attractive nuisance,” whereby the owner can be held liable
for the resulting injuries. Attractive nuisances are often described as
things that would entice someone to enter the property that they may not
realize are dangerous. One of the most common attractive nuisances is
a swimming pool. In these instances, the homeowner can be liable if a
child enters the property and subsequently drowns in the pool.
Complexity of Premises Liability Claims
Premises liability claims are complex and rarely ever straightforward.
In some cases, there may be multiple defendants, each with a portion of
liability. Establishing liability is difficult and each case is entirely
different, even if the general facts surrounding the accident are the
same. Attorneys must prove that the property owner knew about the hazard
and failed to fix it prior to the injury. This differs from standard personal
injury claims because it is not necessarily another person who caused
the injury, but a problem on the property itself. If someone spills something
on the floor at a restaurant and you slip two minutes later, it is not
likely to be a successful
slip and fall case. If the spill was still there two hours later and in store cameras show
employees passing the spill multiple times, you likely have a successful
premises liability claim.
It is important to talk to a skilled
Maryland personal injury attorney right away to assess your claim and work to put together proof that the
property owner was negligent. At the Law Office of Robert R. Castro, we
have years of experience handling complex premises liability cases. Contact
us today to schedule a consultation.