CBS Baltimore Report on Toddler Killed by Falling Mirror at Shoe Store
A major US shoe store chain offered its condolences to the family of a toddler who was killed when a mirror at one of its locations fell on top of her. CBS Baltimore affiliate WJZ News Channel 13 reported on the March 2, 2018 incident, stating that the company had launched an investigation to help them understand how the accident occurred. Local police mentioned that the little girl was with her family shopping for new shoes in the moments before the mirror fell. Officials found her severely injured at the scene and transported her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A family spokesperson noted that the 2-year-old girl died of complications resulting from internal bleeding, and she lost a substantial amount of blood due to her fatal injuries.
Businesses that open their doors to the public have a duty to keep the property safe from dangerous conditions that could cause injuries. However, proving your right to compensation in a Maryland premises liability case requires more than showing a breach of duty. While you should always discuss the details of your situation with an experienced Baltimore County, MD personal injury attorney, an overview of premises liability laws may be helpful.
Elements of a Premises Liability Claim
A personal injury case based upon negligence requires the victim to prove certain facts to recover compensation from the party responsible for causing the injury. In the context of a premises liability case, the elements are:
The property owner, manager, or tenant had a duty to keep the premises safe for certain members of the public who may enter. The extent of this duty depends upon the circumstances in a premises liability case, but it generally involves whether the responsible party:
- Knew about a dangerous condition;
- Should have known of a hazard through reasonable inspection; or,
- Had sufficient time to correct the safety risk.
The responsible party breached this duty, leading to the existence of hazardous conditions on the property. The breach is typically through an act or omission, such as:
- Failure to make repairs to a known danger;
- Conducting repairs in a careless manner, increasing the hazardous nature of the condition;
- Failure to inspect the premises to assess the presence of safety risks; or,
- Failure to post signs or warnings about potential dangers.
The breach was a direct cause of the victim’s injuries, such that the victim would not have been hurt if it was not for the responsible party’s actions.
The victim suffered losses as a result of his or her injuries.
Special Considerations in Maryland Premises Liability Cases
Beyond the general elements, there are some specific factors that may affect a victim’s claims.
The Status of the Victim: Under Maryland law, only licensees or guests may recover compensation for their injuries. A guest is someone whom the property owner would invite onto the premises with permission and for the mutual benefit of both parties. Examples include a shopper at a store, a diner at a restaurant, or a patron at a hair salon. A licensee is someone who is present upon the property due to the implied consent of the owner, such as a US mail personnel or a delivery person.
When the victim is a trespasser upon property, there is no right to recover compensation under Maryland premises liability law. The owner of the property does not have a duty to protect a person who has no legal right to be there.
Contributory Negligence: The actions of the victim while present upon the property are also a factor in a premises liability case, regardless of status as licensee or guest. Maryland follows a harsh rule termed “contributory negligence,” which acts as a complete bar to compensation when the victim’s careless conduct contributed to his or her injuries. Therefore, the responsible party may raise a defense when:
- The victim made use of the property’s physical features in a negligent manner, such as by sliding down stair rails, climbing on shelving,
- The victim ignored a sign marking a hazardous condition; or,
- The victim entered into a closed off area of the premises.
Many states follow the law of comparative negligence, where the percentage of negligence attributable to the victim will reduce the amount of his or her compensation. Maryland’s contributory negligence law is an all-or-nothing concept: ANY amount of negligence on behalf of the victim will prevent recovery.
Damages Available for Injuries in a Premises Liability Case
There are two types of damages an injured victim may recover through a premises liability claim:
- Economic Damages, which are the readily ascertainable losses that stem from an injury and are often out-of-pocket. They include medical costs related to treatment, including emergency, urgent, rehabilitative, and long-term care; and lost wages, if the victim was unable to work due to the injuries.
- Non-Economic Damages, referring to the subjective losses a victim sustains. Examples would be pain and suffering, loss of personal relationships, loss of future income and business opportunities, and others.
Wrongful Death Cases Based Upon Premises Liability
In the case of the toddler killed by the falling mirror, there are two claims under Maryland law:
- Wrongful Death, which is a case that the victim’s surviving loved ones bring to recover for the emotional losses they suffer due to his or her death. Only individuals designated by law can file a wrongful claim, including a spouse, parent, and children of the victim.
- Survival Action is the claim the victim would file if he or she had been injured instead of killed, so it is similar to a personal injury case. The personal representative for the victim’s estate would sue for the economic and non-economic damages mentioned above.
Trust a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer with a Maryland Premises Liability Case
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed due to a property owner’s negligence, please contact the law office of Bob Katz to schedule a free initial consultation. One of our attorneys can review your circumstances and explain your options under Maryland’s premises liability laws.