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Porch Roof Collapse at Maryland Party Brings Up Issues of Premises Liability

Four people, believed to be Frostburg State University students, were injured this March when the roof of a porch collapsed. Approximately nine people were standing on the roof at the time of the collapse. Law enforcement sources claim that those people were jumping up and down in response to the police breaking up a large party across the street, where an estimated 200 to 250 people were gathered. Luckily, the most serious injury was a broken leg. The injured students were brought to a local hospital for treatment. When accidents like these happen, the first question is likely to be who bears responsibility for the injuries: the students, the premises owner, or both?

Compensation for injuries on someone else’s property

Maryland property owners have a responsibility to keep their property safe for visitors or face responsibility when those visitors suffer injuries. Depending on who is visiting, the level of responsibility varies. The property owner owes almost no duty to trespassers, except to refrain from willfully or wantonly hurting them. They owe a much higher duty to those invited onto the premises for business, such as shoppers. Property owners owe these invitees a duty to use reasonable care to keep the premises safe and to warn of risks that the invitees may not discover on their own.

In this case, the party guests on the collapsed roof would probably be considered to be licensees. The landowner’s duty to them would fall somewhere in-between the duties owed to a trespasser and to an invitee. Property owners only need to warn social guest licensees of dangerous conditions that they know about but that the party guests are unlikely to discover easily. In this particular case, the court would have to determine whether the homeowner knew that the roof was unable to hold the weight of the students and whether there should have been a warning.

If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, you may have rights under the law. To learn more about proving liability after a serious injury in the La Plata area, contact the experienced La Plata premises liability lawyers at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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