The Importance of Determining the Relevant Standard in Maryland Car Accident Cases

When an accident victim is injured due to the negligence of another person, the injured party can pursue a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the party or parties she believes are responsible for her injuries. To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the named defendants were legally negligent.

The standard used by courts to determine whether a defendant acted negligently will depend on a variety of factors. For example, Maryland law generally imposes a duty on all motorists to drive carefully and in accordance with all applicable traffic laws. On the other hand, Maryland premises liability law may only impose a duty on a landowner not to willfully or maliciously cause a visitor harm.

Most Maryland personal injury cases involve just one standard; however, it is not uncommon for the parties to argue over which standard applies. A recent case illustrates how important the determination of the legal standard can be to a personal injury case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a passenger in a golf cart that was being driven by the defendant on the defendant’s property. The defendant crashed the golf cart, resulting in the plaintiff sustaining serious injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the defendant claiming that he was negligent in the operation of the golf cart. The plaintiff’s claim did not raise any premises liability issues.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff was an invited guest on his property and, under premises liability law, he only owed the plaintiff a duty to refrain from “willfully, wantonly, knowingly, or intentionally” injuring her. The lower court agreed with the defendant, granting him summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s judgment. The court acknowledged that if the plaintiff’s claim presented only premises liability issues, then the plaintiff’s case would have been properly dismissed below. However, the court explained that the plaintiff’s claim raised a question as to the defendant’s potential negligence in operating a motor vehicle. The court reasoned that the plaintiff’s complaint did not mention premises liability issues or the defendant’s status as a landowner. Instead, the court noted, the plaintiff’s complaint alleged negligence related to the defendant’s control of the golf cart. That being the case, the court determined that it was improper for the court to characterize the plaintiff’s claim as merely raising premises liability issues.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. in a wide range of personal injury cases, including Maryland auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.

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