Maryland Premises Liability

By Peter DePaolis

Maryland premises liability law holds landowners responsible when someone else is injured on their land. If you have been injured on another’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, your rights when injured on someone else’s property depend upon your legal status while on the property. Also, those who are physically injured by assault may be able to hold the assaulter responsible for damages.

This information provided by a premises liability lawyer is meant to help you understand the laws surrounding premises liability. Learn what you can do as a business or homeowner to prevent premises liability claims on your property here.

Property Owners or Possessors & Maryland Premises Liability

When bringing a premises liability claim, it is important to first identify who owns or possesses the property. The law states that a person is considered to possess the property when that person:

  • Occupies the land with the intent to control it
  • Previously occupied the property with the intent to control it and no other person has subsequently occupied that property with the intent to control it
  • Is entitled to immediate occupation of the property, if no other person is in possession of the property

Legal Status of Persons Entering the Property

The duty that a landowner owes to a person entering the property depends upon the legal status of that entrant. The law regarding the legal status of a land entrant and its impact on a landowner’s duty of care varies by jurisdiction. A person on the property belonging to another person is typically classified under the law as one of the following:

  • Trespasser
  • Licensee
  • Invitee

If the land entrant is a trespasser, the only duty of care a landowner owes to that individual is to refrain from willful injury or entrapment. A landowner must not allow any known man-made dangerous conditions on the property, such as a trap. Otherwise, a landowner is not responsible for any injuries to a trespasser.

If the land entrant is a licensee or an informal guest, the landowner owes the duty to exercise reasonable care of an ordinarily prudent person regarding any activities conducted on the property. This means that a landowner must act in a manner that most reasonable people would. The landowner also owes a duty to warn licensees of any known dangerous conditions that could not reasonably be discovered by the guest.

The most common instance of premises liability arises when an invitee enters upon the property of another. An invitee is an individual who is publicly invited onto the land, such as a customer who enters another’s store. A landowner still owes the same duty of care for activities conducted on the premises: as that of an ordinarily prudent person. However, the landowner has a greater duty of care regarding any dangerous conditions on the property. The landowner has a duty to warn the invitee of all concealed dangerous conditions on the land that the land occupier either knew about or could have discovered through reasonable inspection. This imposes a duty on the landowner to inspect the premises for any dangerous conditions and protect all invitees from such conditions.

It is important for you to contact a knowledgeable Premises Liability Lawyer to discuss these and other issues related to premises liability.

If You Have Been Injured on the Premises of Another

If you were injured while on the property of another, you may be entitled to compensation. If the property owner owed you a duty of care and failed to fulfill that duty, that individual or entity should be held responsible for your injury. If you have been injured and need assistance, please contact us at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P. We represent clients in personal injury cases in Maryland. We are ready to help.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.