Property ownership comes with responsibility: if you own or manage a property and invite or allow other people onto it—whether for business, social, educational, or recreational purposes—you owe those people a duty of care, in the sense that they should not have any reason to fear that they will come to harm while on your premises. You must take reasonable care to prevent hazardous conditions, and if one should occur, to promptly correct it, and in the meantime, warn those people who have come onto your property to avoid the danger the condition poses. This duty of care is at the heart of the legal theory of premises liability. If you fail in this duty and someone is hurt, you may be held liable for that person’s damages. This is the essence of premises liability under the law.
Examples of Premises Negligence
Premises liability may arise in various ways. The most common is the slip, trip, and fall accident, where a slippery floor, uneven walking surface, dangerous staircase, sudden unmarked drop-off, or some type of obstacle causes someone legally on the property to fall and sustain a serious injury. This type of premises liability is explained in greater detail elsewhere on the dedicated Slip, Trip & Fall Accident page on our site.
There are numerous other situations from which a legal action for premises liability might arise. These are just a few of the many possible situations where a property owner may be found negligent and subject to liability to an injured party for damages:
- Animal attacks may incur liability on the part of the property owner, for example, if a dog with a history of attacking people were to bite a child visiting the owner’s home. Another example might be a landlord who knew that a tenant was harboring dangerous dogs on the rental property and took no steps to remove the dogs or evict the tenant, and a person was injured on the premises. Dog bite cases are the second most common premises type of injury claims. Click the following link for more information about Baltimore dog bite injury cases.
- Negligent security causes of action may arise when a violent crime occurs, such as assault, battery, rape, abduction, or even murder on the premises because the owner failed to provide adequate security. What is considered adequate security depends upon the type of property and the neighborhood where it is located but might include hiring an outside security firm, using monitored security cameras, installing improved lighting, or making repairs to walls, doors, or windows.
- Lead paint poisoning in children may occur in older dwellings. Lead was a component of household paint until 1978, when laws were passed banning lead based paints. Buildings that predate the lead paint ban may have layers of the older lead-containing paint, which may be exposed by drilling or peeling of top layers. Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law requires that owners of properties offered for rent which were built before 1978 register their with Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), submit to lead-based- paint inspections, give out state-provided educational materials, and meet state-mandated lead paint risk reduction standards under a variety of conditions. Prior to occupancy, an empty rental unit in Maryland, unless it has already been certified as lead free, must be inspected by a state authorized lead inspector. If a landlord fails to have his property inspected and a child or pregnant woman tests positive for lead exposure, the landlord may be held liable for damages that result from the exposure.
- Burn injuries caused by fires that are caused by negligence on the part of a building’s owner may also incur premises liability. If you were in a building or home that caught fire and you suffered serious burn injuries, you might be able to recover compensation from the owner of the property. Not all fires are the result of negligence, so it is important that the cause of the fire is identified. However, if a preventable condition is found to be the cause, you will have a good chance of recovering money for your injuries, with the help of a premises liability attorney. Examples of conditions that, depending on the type of building and its use, might tend to indicate negligence include:
- Damaged or malfunctioning electrical outlets
- Overloaded electric circuits
- Faulty or exposed electrical wiring
- Gas leaks
- Improperly cleaned or malfunctioning dryers
- Lack of smoke detector alarms
- Lack of fire extinguishers
- Lacking or malfunctioning sprinkler systems in certain types of building
- Locked or obstructed fire exit doors
- Gas explosions in residential or commercial buildings may result in serious injuries or death from burns, exposure to toxic fumes, or the injuries caused by the force of the blast. Explosions can be caused by heating systems, generators, stoves, grills, water heaters, or leaking gas lines or tanks. Who can be held liable will depend upon the specific cause of the explosion. It may be the owner or manager of the premises or a third party, such as a gas supply company or a manufacturer of a defective gas appliance.
- Drownings and near-drownings are a leading cause of death and of injury-related deaths for those between the ages of 1 and 14. Some drowning accidents are purely accidental, but others are the result of some dangerous condition that could be corrected by proper installation and maintenance of the pool area and equipment. Slippery pool decks, electrical defects, drains that can entrap a swimmer, broken or otherwise dangerous ladders, steps, slides, or diving boards might, in some cases, be attributable to owner negligence and thus premises liability.
- Playgrounds and amusement parks are meant for the enjoyment of children, but if they are poorly designed and lack appropriate safety features, they may cause injuries and even death. The owner of a school, daycare center, church, park, or commercial recreation facility has a duty to ensure that the equipment is safe, well-designed, and properly maintained. Regular inspections and prompt repairs to damaged equipment are necessary. If a child is injured while using play equipment or amusements and the injury is proven to be the result of improper inspection or maintenance, or if appropriate safety features, such as soft ground coverings are absent, the owner may be held liable for the child’s injury or wrongful death in a premises liability legal action.
Getting Legal Help for a Premises-related Injury
If you or a member of your family sustained a serious injury on someone else’s premises that you feel was due to the owner or manager’s negligence, you may be able to recover money to compensate for your economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost earnings, and other costs arising from the accident that can be proven with bills, receipts, credit card statements, and employment records. Non-economic damages are harder to assign a dollar value and include pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.
In is usually in your best interest to retain an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney to represent you and guide you through the legal process. In Baltimore and the surrounding area, you can get the legal help you need by calling Randolph Rice Injury Lawyers. The Rice law firm is client-centered and focused on achieving the best results the law allows. We offer a complimentary case consultation in which we will answer all of your questions honestly and advise you of your legal options. We will investigate your case, gather evidence of the defendant’s liability, assemble proof of your financial and quality-of life-damages, negotiate with the insurance company, and if necessary to get you a fair amount of compensation, will try your case to a jury.
Consult with Our Experienced Baltimore Premises Liability Attorney
It is important to get started as soon as possible because there are legal time restrictions on filing a lawsuit in Maryland. Don’t take a chance on losing your right to compensation. Call The Law Offices of Randolph Rice today at (410) 694-7291.