Maryland law concerning injuries occuring on someone else's premises make such claims difficult. Many of the usual dynamics of car or truck accident claims pertain but with the additional consideration of what status one holds when present on someone else's premises.
What does that mean? Maryland defines people present on another person's property as having one of four different statuses. One can be:
1). An " invitee" which is a person on the premises of another for purposes related to the owner or occupiers business.
2). A " social guest or licensee by invitation" is someone on the owner's premises by express or implied invitation unrelated to the owenr's business.
3). A " bare licensee" is on the owner's premises with the consent but not the invitation of the owner and is there to serve their own interests rather than those of the owner.
4). A " trespasser." is on the owner's property without their consent.
The legal duty owed each of these classes of visitors is different with bare licensees and trespassers being owed only a duty of the property owner refraining from " willful injury or entrapment."
Invitees can have the expectation that the property owner will "use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the premises safe" and " to protect the invitees from injury caused by an unreasonable risk that they by exercising ordinary care" would not discover.
Social guests and licensees by invitaion have very similar rights and expectations although the Maryland Pattern Jury Instructions 24:3 and 24:4 are slightly different and the case law makes some odd reading.
The distinctions between the categories of visitor appear to be both historic and largely the result of perceived business relationships. Injury victims can also have their statuses change during their stay on properties.
The most significant recent evolution of this area of the law concerns landlord responsibility for third party criminal activity. More on that next week.