Experienced Premises Liability Attorney in Gaithersburg Holds Property Owners Accountable
Determined advocacy for victims of negligence in Maryland and D.C.
A visit to a store or restaurant can quickly become a nightmare when a hidden hazard causes a fall and, consequently, a severe injury. At The Law Office of Christopher J. Smith in Gaithersburg, I regularly represent clients who entered public or private property only to slip, trip or otherwise hurt themselves because the person in charge did not act responsibly. If you've been hurt in a premises liability accident, I am determined to secure the full compensation you deserve.
Responsibilities of Maryland property owners towards different types of visitors
Property owners and lessees who control the premises have a duty to make the area reasonably safe for visitors. But the extent of that duty varies depending on who the visitor is. The types of visitors are as follows:
- Invitee — This category refers to persons invited onto the property for a business purpose, such as customers in a store or restaurant. A property/business owner owes the highest duty of care to invitees; these defendants can be liable for hazards they didn't know about, but should have discovered and/or remedied with reasonably diligent inspection and safety protocols.
- Licensee — This category includes social guests who enter a premises by invitation. The duty is one of reasonable care to keep the premises safe and to warn of known hazards that are not obvious to a visitor.
- Bare licensee — This type of visitor enters the property for his own purpose, but with the owner's consent. The duty is minimal, requiring only that the landowner refrain from wantonly or willfully injuring the licensee or creating new hazards without alerting the licensee.
- Trespasser — The lowest form of duty is owed to someone who illegally enters a property. The landowner must not willfully or wantonly injure or trap the trespasser.
In all cases, the court inquires as to whether the property owner's conduct was reasonable under the circumstances.
Common injuries in premises liability cases
Premises liability encompasses a broad range of injury events taking place on public and private property. For example, patrons of a business could suffer a sudden slip and fall onto the hard surface. This could result in:
- Broken bones
- Compressed vertebrae
- Torn ligaments or cartilage
- Concussion and traumatic brain injuries
Additionally, pedestrians on a city sidewalk adjacent to a worksite could be hit with flying debris. These types of construction site accidents occur when contractors do not take reasonable precautions to make their sites safe for passersby.
Another common injury event is a dog bite on premises where a dangerous dog has not been properly restrained to protect lawful visitors.
These injuries can be serious, even permanent, so it is imperative that you retain a reliable attorney as soon as possible.
Determining liability in a slip and fall accident case
Legal responsibility for a premises liability accident depends on whether a property owner's actions were unreasonable under the totality of the circumstances. The law understands that property owners are not all-knowing and cannot be everywhere at once, but a court will determine if the person in charge of the property did all that can be reasonably expected to prevent an accident. This can include:
- Having inspection routines in place
- Having protocols for responding to recurring hazards, such as spills on a floor
- Whether the amount of time between the creation of the hazard and the accident allowed for a response
- Whether removing the hazard was feasible
- Whether providing a warning about a hazard was adequate
Arguments over liability can be complex, which is why you should only trust your case to an experienced attorney with a track record of success.
Contact a knowledgeable Maryland attorney for a free premises liability accident consultation
The Law Office of Christopher J. Smith in Gaithersburg pursues full compensation for clients injured in premises liability accidents. To schedule a free consultation, call 301-760-7460 or contact me online.