Court Determines Landowner Did Not Voluntarily Assume Duty in Recent Premises Liability Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court in New Hampshire issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that presents interesting issues for Washington, D.C. accident victims considering filing a premises liability lawsuit. The case required the court to determine if the owner and operator of a carnival assumed a duty of care to a customer who had wandered off carnival grounds looking for a restroom when she was hit by a car. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant did not voluntarily assume a duty of care and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the mother of a young woman who was killed when she was struck by a car as she crossed the street after leaving a carnival put on by the defendant. The plaintiff’s daughter left the carnival in search of a restroom to wash her hands. The carnival had portable toilets with hand sanitizer in them, but the facility lacked running water.

As the plaintiff left the carnival grounds, she saw a fast-food restaurant that she thought would have a restroom she could use. The girl tried to press the button to indicate to passing motorists that a pedestrian was about to cross, but the signal was inoperative. The girl crossed the street nonetheless but was struck by a car. She died as a result of the injuries she sustained.

At the time, carnival management arranged for police and firemen to be on scene to provide general public safety. However, management did not ask either group to perform any traffic control services.

The girl’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner and operator of the carnival. The plaintiff argued that the carnival owed her daughter a duty of care to keep her safe and that this duty covered the accident that occurred off carnival grounds. In the alternative, the plaintiff argued that, even if the court determined that the carnival originally did not have a duty, it voluntarily assumed a duty by arranging to have police and fire personnel present.

The court rejected both of the plaintiff’s arguments, finding that the carnival did not have a duty under traditional theories of negligence and that it did not voluntarily assume a duty. The court explained that as a general rule, a defendant does not have a duty to control the property of a third party. Here, the accident occurred off carnival grounds, and the court was unwilling to extend the carnival’s liability in such a situation.

Similarly, the court concluded that the act of retaining police and fire personnel did not result in the carnival voluntarily assuming a duty of care. The court explained that the police and fire personnel were not instructed to control traffic and that the accident was beyond their control.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated team of Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers has extensive experience assisting victims and their families with pursuing the compensation they deserve through diligent and aggressive representation. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at Lebowitz & Mzhen today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Permits Premises Liability Case to Proceed over Defense Summary Judgment Motion, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 24, 2017

Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed for Lack of Expert Testimony, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, November 9, 2017

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