Maryland Premises Liability
If you get hurt because of a dangerous condition on another person’s property such as a store or someone’s home, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. However, like any personal injury case, the insurance company will try to deny your claim or pay as little as possible. This is why you should seek help from an experienced Maryland premises liability attorney.
Attorney Greg Jimeno once worked for an insurance company. He has seen the claims process from the inside. He knows how insurers operate and how to tackle tough issues in these cases. Our legal team uses his knowledge and insight every day to pursue compensation for our clients, including clients with property-related injuries.
To discuss whether Jimeno & Gray, P.A., can assist with your premises liability claim, contact us today. We will provide a free consultation about your case. We will also explain how the claims process works after you get hurt on commercial or residential property in Maryland.
What Is a Premises Liability Claim?
A premises liability claim is like other personal injury cases. To recover compensation in a settlement or judgment, you must establish that:
- Another party owed a duty of care to you.
- The party failed to live up to that duty, or breached it.
- As a result of that breach, you suffered actual harm, or damages.
In a premises liability case, the party that owes a duty of care may be a property owner or occupier. In other words, it could be a landlord or tenant. The party could be a person or a business or government agency. So, you could bring a claim whether you were injured at a store, mall, sidewalk, parking lot, office building, park, sports venue or neighbor’s home.
In Maryland, the common law as well as state and local laws defines the duty of care that property owners and occupiers owe to different visitors.
The common law puts visitors into three general categories:
- Invitee – A person who visits for the purpose of the owner’s business. A store customer is an example. The owner must exercise reasonable and ordinary care, maintain the property in a reasonably safe manner and protect the visitor from unreasonable risks that the visitor would not discover on his or her own.
- Licensee – The law actually puts two types of visitors in this category:
- Licensee by invitation – A person who visits as a social guest. A friend who goes to a neighbor’s home for a party is an example. The owner must exercise reasonable care and warn of any dangerous conditions that the property owner knows about and which the visitor may not detect.
- Bare licensee – A person who visits with the owner’s permission for his or her own purposes. A salesman is an example. The owner cannot engage in willful or wanton misconduct that may harm the visitor or create any new danger, without warning, that puts the visitor in harm’s way.
- Trespasser – A person who visits without the owner’s permission. The owner has a duty to avoid only willful or wanton misconduct that may injure the visitor. However, in some situations, the owner may owe a higher duty of care to a child trespasser.
Insurance companies often challenge an injured visitor’s status. They want to claim that a property owner or occupier owed a lower duty of care and should not be held liable for the visitor’s injuries.
In some situations, a statute or local ordinance may establish the duty of care that a property owner or occupier owes to visitors. If this situation arises, the visitor does not have to establish the property owner’s common law duty of care. For example, a local housing code may impose a duty on apartment owners to remove lead paint from its units and common areas.
Some other issues that commonly arise in Maryland premises liability cases are:
- Owner’s knowledge of the dangerous condition – Time is a key factor. For instance, if a store customer slips on a puddle that was only a few minutes old, the customer may find it hard to argue that the owner knew about the hazard and should have fixed or warned about it. However, if the puddle had sat there untouched for several hours, the owner likely should have known of it and could be held liable.
- Whether the hazard was “open and obvious” – Maryland is one of the few states that prevent a person from recovering anything if the person is even slightly at fault for his or her injury. That’s why insurance companies often claim that a visitor suffered harm from an “open and obvious” hazard and could have avoided injury.
- The victim’s injuries are unrelated or exaggerated – Even where a property owner’s negligence is clear, some insurers will claim that a victim’s injuries are not as severe as the victim claims or not the product of an incident on the property.
At Jimeno & Gray, we thoroughly investigate premises liability cases. We gather evidence from the scene, analyze photos and videos, interview witnesses and inspect records and reports. If necessary, we may discuss the case with experts. Our law firm also gathers medical records, consults with physicians and works with experts to determine the cause, nature and extent of a client’s injuries.
What Are Different Types of Premises Liability Claims?
With our experience, the attorneys and staff of Jimeno & Gray can handle a wide range of premises liability claims, including those that involve:
- Slip and falls – This is the most common type of premises liability claim. Examples are falls that occur due to slick surfaces (such as floors with snow, ice, slush or a spilled liquid), broken or uneven surfaces, poor lighting or lack of guard rails.
- Swimming pool accidents – These accidents often occur due to poor maintenance of the swimming pool area, inadequate locks or poor supervision of children.
- Negligent security – These incidents frequently occur at motels, shopping malls and apartment complexes where owners know (or should know) of safety risks to visitors but fail to take reasonable steps to prevent an attack.
- Nursing home abuse or neglect – Unfortunately, many elderly residents of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Maryland suffer life-threatening falls and injuries such as hip fractures. Poor maintenance, medication errors and other forms of abuse or neglect by the facility’s operators lead to these incidents.
Every premises liability case is slightly different. We focus on the specific facts and issues in each client’s case, including how the client’s injuries have uniquely affected his or her need for medical care, capacity to work and ability to enjoy life. As a small law firm, we like being able to give that close, personal attention to each client we serve.
What Can You Recover in a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
At Jimeno & Gray, we never talk about the value of a premises liability case when we initially meet a client. We wait until we have thoroughly investigated a case, reviewed all records, consulted with experts and documented all losses. We arrive at the value by looking at the same factors that a jury would consider when awarding compensation:
- Extent and duration of your injuries
- Effect of your injuries on your health and well-being
- Physical pain and mental anguish you have endured
- Any disfigurement, humiliation and/or embarrassment because of disfigurement that you have suffered
- Past and future medical and other expenses incurred due to your injuries
- Loss of past earnings and diminished future earning ability
- Non-economic harm such as pain and suffering, inconvenience and loss of consortium.
We prepare solid cases for settlement negotiations – typically with the insurance company that provides the property owner or occupier with commercial liability or homeowner’s insurance. However, if necessary, we are always ready to go to court. Our legal team features former State attorneys who are highly skilled and experienced trial lawyers.
What Steps Should You Take If You Are Injured on Another’s Property?
If you suffer a serious injury while on the property of another in Maryland, you should contact Jimeno & Gray without delay. We will provide a free consultation, listen closely to what happened to you and explain how we can help you to pursue just compensation. As you prepare to talk with us, you should do your best to take these steps:
- Report it. You should report about the accident (in writing, if possible) to the property owner or occupier. For instance, if you fell at a store, you may need to file an incident report with the store manager or security staff.
- See a doctor. You should get checked for injuries for the sake of your health. A delay in seeing a doctor can make your injuries worse and prolong your recovery. Make sure to follow the doctor’s orders as well.
- Gather everything. Keep copies of all of your medical bills and other expenses, accident scene and injury photos, eyewitness contact information and insurance company correspondence. You should also keep the clothes that you wore when the accident happened.
- Do not speak with the insurance company. You should refrain from giving a recorded statement or access to your medical records to an insurer for the property owner or occupier. When you work with Jimeno & Gray, we will deal with the insurer on your behalf.
- Do not resolve your claim until you complete treatment and meet with a lawyer. You will not know the full value of your premises liability claim until you complete your medical treatment. Additionally, a lawyer should review any settlement offer that you receive before you accept it. A lawyer can advise you on whether the offer fully and fairly compensates you.
Our Experienced Maryland Premises Liability Attorneys Can Help
With only a few exceptions, you must file a premises liability claim in Maryland within three years after an incident occurs on the property of another. So, you should not wait to get legal help. Contact us today. Jimeno & Gray is ready to review your case and pursue all compensation that you deserve.