Court Concludes Landowner Did Not Have a Duty to Clear Foliage Near Intersection

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting an interesting issue that will be relevant to many Maryland car accident cases. The case involved the potential liability of a landowner for their alleged failure to trim trees that were on their property that obscured motorists’ view of an adjacent intersection.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving loved ones of a driver who was killed in a two-car automobile accident. According to the court’s opinion, the collision occurred at the intersection of two gravel roads. The plaintiff owned the property that was adjacent to the southeast corner of the intersection.

Evidently, after the accident, investigating officers noticed that it was impossible for northbound traffic to see vehicles approaching from the west, and vice-versa, due to the presence of dense foliage on the southwest corner of the intersection. The driver of the other vehicle also explained that he was unable to see the deceased driver’s car until he had entered the intersection.

The estate of the deceased driver filed a personal injury case against the defendant landowners, claiming that they were negligent in failing to trim the trees that obstructed the drivers’ views of the intersection. Thus, the court had to determine if the landowners owed a duty to passing motorists to trim trees or other foliage that may interfere with a motorist’s ability to see approaching traffic.

The Court’s Decision

The court explained that under the current state of the law, a landowner owed no duty to passing motorists, and that the court would only recognize a new duty if that duty was consistent with public policy. The court then engaged in a lengthy discussion of the policy considerations involved in its decision, and ultimately concluded that the landowner did not owe the deceased driver a duty of care to trim the trees.

The court considered several factors, but most interesting was the fact that the court highlighted geographic and cultural considerations. The case arose in Kentucky, and that court explained that much of the state is covered in farms, many of which grow tall crops. The court explained that imposing this type of duty on landowners would have a significant effect on one of the state’s major commercial activities. The court went on the explain that the state’s lawmakers saw fit to charge certain government organizations with the maintenance of public roadways, and that to shift the burden onto individual landowners would be a massive shift. Thus, the court held that the plaintiff failed to provide the court with sufficient justification to adopt and apply a new duty that would have such a grave impact on the state.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, the dedicated Maryland injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have decades of experience representing injury victims and their families in all types of Maryland car accident cases, including those involving third-party liability. To learn more about how we can help you recover for your injuries, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Lawmakers Expand the State’s “Move Over” Law, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 2, 2018.

Alcohol May Have Been Involved in Fatal Maryland Roadside Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 9, 2018.

Contact Information