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Premises Liability

The owners and possessors of property are responsible to keep their property safe. This may include maintenance and upkeep, taking appropriate security measures, and ensuring that property is in compliance with building and safety codes. If adequate safety measures are not taken and someone is injured as a result, the owner may be subject to legal consequences.

Types of Claims

Slip and falls are one of the most common types of premises liability claims in Maryland. They occur when a person slips or trips and falls, injuring him or herself. Slip and fall accidents may be caused by spills in grocery stores, poorly lit stairways, debris left on floors, icy parking lots, etc. However, for a slip and fall accident to be legally actionable, the accident must be caused by a dangerous condition on the property rather than a visitor’s clumsiness. As winter and cold weather approach, it is especially important to be careful to avoid slipping on ice and snow.

Negligent security claims may occur when a person is injured by criminal activity on another’s property. These claims require that a property owner know that criminal activity is occurring on property and fail to take appropriate security precautions to keep visitors safe.

Premises liability claims may also arise when visitors are exposed to dangerous substances on property. This often occurs when landlords fail to comply with housing codes, and tenants suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning or are exposed to substances such as lead paint or asbestos.

Many other types of accidents, including those caused by falling objects, uncovered swimming pools, or the failure to warn of a hazard, are also covered by Maryland premises liability law.

Types of Visitor

The duty a property owner owes to visitors depends on the type of visitor. Maryland law divides visitors into four groups:

  • Invitees
  • Licensees by invitation
  • Bare licensees
  • Trespassers

Invitees are those invited onto the premises for the owner’s benefit. These are generally visitors to a place of business; shoppers in a grocery store, for example. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care. Property owners must keep their premises reasonably safe and warn of hidden dangers. Licensees by invitation are social guests. Property owners and possessors have the responsibility to take reasonable care to keep the property safe for licensees by invitation.

A bare licensee is a person to whose presence a property owner acquiesces, but who was not invited onto the property. Property owners must avoid purposely or recklessly injuring bare licensees, but need not do more than that. Trespassers are also owed the lowest duty of care. Once the property owner becomes aware of the trespasser’s presence, he or she merely must avoid wantonly or purposely injuring the trespasser.

Who is Responsible?

If a person is injured by a dangerous condition on another’s property, the victim may sue either the owner or the possessor of the property. A person is a possessor of property if he or she:

  • Occupies the property with the intent to control it;
  • Previously occupied the property with intent to control, and the property has been vacant since; or
  • Is entitled to immediate occupation (for example, by renting the property, but not yet moving in), if no one else is in possession.

Property owners and occupiers are, of course, open to liability if they knew of the dangerous condition and failed to fix it. But they may also be liable if they fail to monitor their property. For example, if an owner was unaware of a broken stair, but did not monitor the building to ensure its safety, the owner will likely be liable if someone is injured as a result.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If you have been injured because of a dangerous condition on another’s property, a lawyer can help you recover compensation. Please contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro for a free initial consultation.

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