Can Injured Maryland Crime Victims File A Lawsuit Against The Property Owner Or Business Owner?

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If you are the victim of a crime that happened on commercial property in Maryland, and if you sustained injuries during the incident, you may have reason to file a lawsuit against the business owner or property owner. The exception to this rule is if you sustained your injury in a public common area outside a business — such as on the street in front of a nightclub, rather than on the premises itself.

To sue the business owner or property owner, you must prove two things. Firstly, the business owner or property owner knew of dangerous conditions on the property, whether they were due to prior crimes on the property or other issues on the property that would predict future incidents. Secondly, the business owner or property owner failed to take precautions to prevent future incidents, such as hiring security guards, installing security cameras or improving lighting.

Defining Commercial Property

In Maryland, commercial property is any property that is open to the public for commerce. Many people think of commercial property as somewhere where they pay for goods or services, such as a mall, restaurant or convenience store. Yet, rented personal residences, such as apartments or housing, also count as commercial property.

Under state law, it is the duty of business owners and property owners to keep commercial property safe for tenants, guests and invitees (individuals permitted on the property to lawfully transact business). If you sustained injuries on commercial property as a trespasser, such as during a robbery, you do not have the same right to sue the business owner or property owner as a law-abiding individual.

Understanding Who To Sue

The party you can sue depends on exactly where the incident occurred on the commercial property. This is because commercial buildings and commercial land are often owned by different entities, which have different responsibilities to lawful tenants and visitors. For instance, if you were injured in gunfire at an apartment building or convenience store, you can sue either the business owner or property owner if the incident occurred inside the premises. If the incident occurred in the parking lot, however, you can only sue the property owner, unless a stipulation in the lease declares the business owner responsible for such incidents.

The Cost Of Crime-Related Injuries

Injured crime victims often face substantial expenses and financial losses during recovery. Not only will victims require treatment for their physical injuries, but they may need mental health assistance, too. Furthermore, crime victims may be unable to work during their recovery, which leads to lost wages.

Because of the costs associated with being both a crime victim and an injury victim, you will want to treat your case with care. Working with an attorney who understands the intricacies of premises liability law – and how it intersects with criminal law – may be crucial in obtaining an outcome that reflects the twin challenges of your situation.


The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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