Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to determine if a group of city contractors that designed and landscaped the foliage around an intersection could be held liable after a motorist was killed at the intersection. Ultimately, the court concluded that because the city approved the work and the alleged hazard was readily apparent, the contractors were absolved from liability.
The case is important for Maryland car accident victims because, while the exact doctrine applied in Maryland differs slightly from that which was applied in this case, the concepts and considerations underlying the court’s rationale are consistent with Maryland law.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was the mother of a man who died after being struck by a truck upon entering an intersection on his motorcycle. The plaintiff claimed that the foliage surrounding the intersection obstructed the motorists’ view of the intersection as they approached, causing the accident.
The plaintiff named the city as a defendant, but also named several city contractors who designed and landscaped the intersection. The contractors filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that they should not be held liable under a doctrine that protects contractors when they can show that the work was completed, the landowner approved it, and that the alleged hazard was readily apparent.
In this case, the plaintiff did not argue either of the first two points. However, the plaintiff claimed that the shrubbery was not a readily apparent hazard because none of the contractors knew at the time that the foliage was taller than city regulation permitted. The court, however, rejected the plaintiff’s claim, noting that the relevant inquiry was not whether the contractors knew about any potential hazard but whether “the dangerousness of the condition was obvious had the owner exercised reasonable care.”
The court explained that the focus of inquiry is properly on the landowner because if the owner accepts the completed work and the alleged hazard was readily apparent at the time, then the landowner “accepts the defects and the negligence that caused them as his own.” In this case, the court concluded that the subjective knowledge of the contractors was irrelevant, and went on to reject the plaintiff’s claim that the contractors could be liable for her son’s death.
Have You Been Injured Due to the Negligent Actions of a Maryland Contractor?
Holding a contractor liable for their negligence can be tricky. However, at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers we have extensive experience handling these complex cases, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, or any other kind of Maryland personal injury accident, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you recover for your injuries.
More Blog Posts:
Court Finds Government Liable in Recent Case Alleging Negligent Road Design, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 20, 2018.
Court Finds in Favor of Government in Recent Motorcycle Accident Case Allegedly Caused by Poorly Maintained Road, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 6, 2018.