When you visit a store, business or someone else’s home, you expect reasonably safe conditions that allow you to shop or move around without extraordinary caution. You expect stairs, railings and other installations to be as safe as they appear; you do not expect to have to avoid unusual dangers like spills, debris or dangerous animals. Thus, property owners have a duty to address safety hazards and/or adequately warn visitors of potential dangers. However, negligent owners may put you at risk by allowing hazardous conditions to exist. Worse, if you do sustain injuries, then the owner may try to deny liability by blaming you for causing your own accident.
After a fall or other accident, you may not even know who owns the property or what caused your injuries. If you were hurt in a store or business, then you may be up against an expansive corporation with near-unlimited resources. If your accident occurred on the property of someone you know, then you will face other challenges, such as uncertainty as to whether you should file a formal claim. Baltimore premises liability attorney Susan R. Green founded Hardball Law to be a source of stability and answers for those facing difficult legal questions like these. No matter where your accident happened or who is to blame, she can answer your questions and help you formulate a clear plan. If you need to stand up to a powerful company, then she can be the strength you need to fight for justice.
What are Common Reasons for Premises Liability Claims?
Depending on the circumstances, property owners and/or operators may be liable for any kind of dangerous condition on the premises. According to Maryland premises liability law, you may be able to recover compensation after accidents such as:
- Slip and fall accidents. Spills, uneven floors, trip hazards and loose carpeting can all cause a slip and fall injury. These types of injuries can be permanently disabling, such as traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. However, broken bones, lacerations and torn muscles can also require expensive medical treatment and prolonged rehabilitation.
- Dog bites. Animals are considered a kind of property. Therefore, if someone’s pet attacks you, then you may be able to file a premises liability claim, even if the incident did not occur on that person’s land.
- Swimming pool accidents. Pool accidents can include slip and falls as well as diving injuries and accidental drowning. Pool owners must therefore clearly mark depths and place “no diving” signs where applicable. Additionally, public facilities may have to have a certain number of on-duty lifeguards.
- Fires. A property owner may be liable for injuries related to a fire if he or she did not address fire hazards.
- Assault caused by lack of security. Certain businesses must have security measures that protect invitees from attacks, especially if assault is a known risk. These measures can include cameras, security guards and restricted access.
- Toxic exposure. Toxic substances like asbestos, lead paint and mold may cause or exacerbate an illness. Therefore, property owners are generally responsible for removing these materials.
When Can I File a Premises Liability Claim?
To recover compensation for your injuries and other damages in a premises liability claim, you and your attorney must demonstrate:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care.
- The owner violated the duty of care.
- You sustained actual damages as a direct result of the breach of duty of care.
Property owners owe a general duty of care to those who enter their property; however, the extent of this duty may vary depending on the circumstances. According to Maryland premises liability law, the different types of visitors and the duty owed to each by property owners are:
- Invitees. An invitee is a person who enters the property as a customer of the owner’s business. Property owners owe the highest standard of care to these types of visitors because they may profit from invitees. In general, property owners and/or operators must take all reasonable steps to address any hazards on the property or issue proper warnings.
- Licensee. Under Maryland premises liability law, licensees are social guests, who are owed a slightly lesser duty of care than invitees. Property owners must warn licensees of any hazards that are not immediately obvious, if the owner is aware of the hazard.
- Bare licensee. This is a visitor who is on the property for his or her own purposes, with the owner’s permission. Generally, the property owner owes bare licensees no duty of care aside from refraining from willfully placing the visitor in danger.
- Trespasser. A trespasser enters the premises without the owner’s consent. Therefore, property owners usually owe them no duty of care other than refraining from causing intentional injury. However, exceptions exist for child trespassers, who are owed a much higher duty of care. For example, pool owners must cover or fence off the pool to prevent child trespassers from accidentally drowning.
Questions? Contact Hardball Law to Speak with a Premises Liability Attorney
Premises liability claims can be complex, especially if a large company is responsible for your injuries and damages. These companies may claim that you are responsible for your own injuries or intimidate you into a law settlement. This can leave victims feeling powerless and overwhelmed by mounting healthcare costs.
Susan R. Green can defend your right to compensation from negligent businesses and other property owners. She does not back down, no matter how tough the opposition. Contact Hardball Law in Baltimore to schedule a free initial consultation today.