Maryland law imposes a duty on landowners to keep their property safe for those whom they invite onto their land. This includes both a duty to remedy any known dangers, as well as a duty to warn visitors about any hazards that may not be readily apparent. However, under Maryland’s recreational use statute, landowners who allow the public to use their land for recreational purposes cannot be held liable by those who are injured on their property as long as the landowner does not charge a fee for the use of their land.
The Maryland recreational use statute is not absolute, and there is an exception for a landowner’s “willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition.” A recent decision issued by a federal appellate court discusses this exception and when it may apply.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was seriously injured in a bicycle accident that occurred on land that was owned and maintained by the Air Force Academy. Evidently, the plaintiff was riding his bike along a bicycle path when he encountered a large sinkhole. The sinkhole spanned the width of the path and, despite its large size, was difficult for riders to see as they approached it.