Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a bicycle accident case discussing a plaintiff’s claim against a city that maintained the park where he was injured. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the precision with which a personal injury plaintiff must plead their case in an initial complaint. The case raises an important issue for Maryland bicycle accident victims, especially those who were injured while riding on public property.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was riding his bike through a park owned by the defendant city. While riding through the grass, the front tire of the plaintiff’s bike got caught in a storm drain that was covered up by some grass. The plaintiff fell off his bike and fractured several bones.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the city, making a single claim of “negligence.” Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the city was negligent in allowing the hazard to exist in the first place, and also for failing to warn park visitors of its existence.
The recreational-use statute in the state where the case arose provides immunity to cities involving injuries that occur on land which is open for recreational use. Under that statute, a city can only be liable if the plaintiff proves it acted willfully or with gross negligence.
Thus, the city argued that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because he failed to plead that its actions in allowing the hazard to exist and failing to warn him about it were grossly negligent or willful. The plaintiff responded that by pleading general “negligence,” he sufficiently plead the issue to present the case to a jury, which may have then found the city to have acted willfully or with gross negligence.
The court agreed with the city and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The court first noted that the plaintiff failed to include the terms “grossly negligent” or “willful” in his complaint, and thus the claim as written would not entitle him to relief even if he was successful in proving all of the facts he alleged. Next, the court conducted a brief analysis of the facts, ultimately concluding that even if the plaintiff had adequately pleaded his case, the result would not have been different. The court explained that there was no evidence presented by the plaintiff to suggest that the city’s actions were willful or exhibited gross negligence.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Bicycle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland bicycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. accident victims in a wide range of personal injury claims, including bike accident cases and cases against government entities. To learn more about how we can help you pursue your claims, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Is Evidence of a Motorcyclist’s Failure to Wear a Helmet Admissible as Evidence of His Own Negligence?, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published September 27, 2018.
The Dangers of Biking with Headphones in Maryland and Nationwide, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 4, 2018.