When several motor vehicles are involved in a Maryland personal injury accident, questions regarding liability and negligence may be more complex than in a typical two-vehicle collision.  An April 21, 2021 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates some of the issues that may arise in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a multi-vehicle accident.

The case at issue involved the chain-reaction, rear-end collisions of four motor vehicles on a Maryland highway.  The plaintiff in the case was driving when the vehicles in front of him came to a stop.  When the plaintiff applied his breaks to avoid hitting them, a second driver collided into the rear of the plaintiff’s car.  A third driver then rear-ended the second driver, which caused her vehicle to hit the plaintiff’s car again.  The repeated impact caused the plaintiff’s car to strike the fourth vehicle, which was directly in front of his.

The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the second and third drivers, and the case went to trial.  After denying the defendants’ motions for judgment, the court submitted the case to the jury.  The jury found that the defendants were negligent, and awarded the plaintiff $34,000 for medical expenses, over $10,000 for lost income, and $500,000 in noneconomic damages.

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In some situations, homeowners may be liable for a personal injury that occurs on their property.  The care they must take to avoid liability depends on the status of the injured party.  In a May 3, 2021 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland negligence suit against her neighbor after falling down the steps of her neighbor’s porch.  The issue before the Court of Special Appeals turned on the legal status of the plaintiff at the time of her injury.

The plaintiff in the case had returned home from work that day and found she was unable to open her front door.  She walked to her neighbor’s house and her neighbor’s grandson, who had answered the door, lent the plaintiff a metal knife.  After successfully unjamming her door, the plaintiff went back to her neighbor’s house later that day to return it.  After handing the knife to her neighbor, the plaintiff turned to leave down the staircase descending from the front porch.  She lost her balance and fell, suffering serious injuries to her leg.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability suit, alleging that her injuries were caused by her neighbor’s negligent maintenance of the premises.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff was a bare licensee and that the defendant had not breached any duty to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff appealed that decision to the higher court.

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The evidence in a Maryland personal injury case, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on the outcome.  In an April 27, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an unavailable, and potentially unrecorded, surveillance video could be used as evidence.  The matter came before the court after the plaintiff had won his personal injury claim against an amusement park at trial.

The plaintiff in the case was visiting the water park area of an amusement park with his two sons.  While shirtless, the plaintiff left the water park area and was approached on two occasions by park security, who informed the plaintiff of the park’s policy prohibiting entry into the amusement park area without a shirt.  After several heated exchanges, an altercation occurred between the security guards and the plaintiff, which lead to the plaintiff’s head hitting the ground.  The plaintiff filed suit against the amusement park for his alleged injuries.

During the closing arguments at trial, the plaintiff’s counsel noted to the jury that the incident had occurred in an area of the park that the defendant had admitted was under surveillance by cameras.  However, no witness testified as to whether any video of the evidence was captured, and if so, whether it had been destroyed or was missing.

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In Maryland, performing surgery on a patient without their informed consent may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit.  Generally, a medical expert is required to provide evidence of a doctor’s alleged negligence.  In a March 15, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a lawsuit against a surgeon for performing an allegedly unnecessary procedure on the plaintiff without her informed consent.  The matter came before the court on appeal after a jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff in the case had sought medical treatment from the defendant for low back pain radiating through her left leg and foot.  After several examinations, the defendant recommended surgery on both the left and right side of the spine, despite the lack of any symptoms on the plaintiff’s right side.  Following the laminectomy and bilateral laminectomy, the plaintiff experienced physical and neurological pain and disability.  The plaintiff then brought a medical negligence suit against the defendant, alleging that the surgery to the right side of her spine was performed unnecessarily and without informed consent.

Before the trial, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to preclude any evidence or testimony concerning disciplinary action taken, and later overturned, against the plaintiff’s expert medical witness.  In so doing, the trial court found that such evidence was irrelevant to the credibility of the expert witness and that questions about it would be prejudicial.  The case was then tried over several days, after which the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

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Defective, negligently maintained street infrastructure such as broken water meters or crumbling sidewalks can result in serious personal injuries to pedestrians.  In a March 12, 2012 case, the plaintiff in a Maryland injury lawsuit sued a city for negligence after falling on a broken storm drain grate and injuring her leg.  The case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland after the trial court entered judgment in favor of the City.

The plaintiff in the case was returning to her car after attending a professional football game.  As she walked among a crowd of fans, the plaintiff stepped onto a broken storm drain grate that was missing one of its metal bars.  The plaintiff’s foot and leg fell through the gap in the storm drain, causing her to fall.  After a fan helped her dislodge her leg from the storm drain grate, the plaintiff was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery on her leg.

The plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the City, alleging that it had been negligent in failing to properly maintain a storm drain and that was part of the street.  At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case at trial, the City moved for judgment, arguing that there was no evidence that it had actual or constructive notice of the defective storm drain.  The trial court granted the motion, and the issue was presented to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

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In Maryland, the liability of a property owner for a personal injury depends upon the standard of care owed to the injured person.  The standard of care, in turn, depends on the person’s status while on the owner’s property.  In a March 25, 2021 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a premises liability claim against a restaurant that was brought by one of its patrons.

The plaintiff in the case had dined at the restaurant with her husband and son.  Unable to find a parking spot in the restaurant’s designated lot, her husband parked in an adjacent parking lot.  The adjacent parking lot belonged to an unrelated limited liability corporation whose tenant had recently vacated the premises.  Upon entering the restaurant, the plaintiff testified that they asked the hostess whether they could park in the lot, and she stated “yes, we don’t have any problems” and “everyone does.”

After dining at the restaurant, the plaintiff and her husband headed towards their car.  Bypassing the paved portions of the lots and sidewalks, they cut across a grassy area of the property owned by the LLC.  After taking a few steps onto the grass area, the plaintiff’s foot landed in a hole that caused her to lose her balance and fall.  The plaintiff filed suit against the restaurant, alleging that they knew or should have known of the condition that caused her to fall when she walked across the grassy area.  The plaintiff did not file a claim against the owner of the adjacent lot and grassy area.

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Business entities may be liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition on their property.  In a March 26, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an unpainted rollover curb constituted an unreasonable risk to a student.  The issue was appealed after the lower court ruled that, as a matter of law, the unpainted curb was not a dangerous condition.

The plaintiff in the case was injured when she tripped on an unpainted rollover curb in the parking lot of a university student center.  A rollover curb consists of a gradual incline from street level up to the sidewalk.  Some of the curbs on the perimeter of the parking lot were painted yellow to delineate fire lanes, areas in which parking was prohibited to allow access for fire trucks and emergency vehicles.  The plaintiff stated that she tripped over an unpainted section of a rollover curb near or adjoining a yellow-painted curb.

The plaintiff brought a negligence action against the university, claiming that it breached its duty to protect against latent, unreasonable risks.  The university moved for summary judgment, arguing that it did not breach its duty of care.  After the circuit court granted summary judgment for the university, the plaintiff appealed.

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Reckless or negligent driving can cause accidents that result in serious injuries or even death to passengers.  In a March 8, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a wrongful death case arising out of a fatal car accident.  The wife of the decedent filed the lawsuit against the police officers involved in a high-speed chase that led up to the vehicle collision.  After a jury awarded damages of over $475,000 to the plaintiff, the trial court entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict for the defendants, effectively negating the jury verdict.  The plaintiff appealed the issue to the higher court.

On the night of the accident, the defendant was pulling over a motorist for driving after dark without headlights on.  The defendant called for back up after noticing that the driver had not put his SUV in park, and a second officer pulled up shortly thereafter.  At that point, the driver drove away and accelerated at a high rate of speed.  The defendant gave a thumbs up and yelled to a third officer who had just arrived to “go, go!”  The officers were pursuing the SUV when the driver lost control, went airborne, and crashed into the decedent’s car.

At trial, the plaintiffs presented evidence that the high speed chase of the driver was prohibited by a written policy of the police department.  The jury found the defendant negligent in instituting a police pursuit of the driver, which resulted in the fatal accident and death of the decedent.  After the verdict, the defendant argued that he was entitled to statutory immunity.  The trial court granted judgment for the defendant after ruling that he was immune based on common law and Maryland law.

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Depending on the circumstances of a Maryland personal injury accident, negligence may be alleged against an employer based on a theory of vicarious liability.  In a February 25, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the defendant, a supermarket owner, could be held vicariously liable for injuries allegedly caused by a third-party vendor.  The matter came on appeal after the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her nearly $400,000 in damages.

The plaintiff in the case was injured while shopping at a supermarket owned and operated by the defendant.  The injury occurred in the frozen-foods aisle.  The plaintiff testified that as she turned to put an item in her basket, she was struck in the back, which caused her to fall to the ground.  The plaintiff believed that she was struck by the stock cart of a delivery man whom she had noticed prior to her fall.  The man, who was not an employee but a third-party vendor delivering soda products to the supermarket, denied striking the plaintiff.

The plaintiff alleged that the supermarket was liable as a result of negligence based on alternative theories of premises liability and vicarious liability.  After the close of evidence at trial, the circuit court granted judgment for the defendant on the issue of premises liability.  The remaining issue was submitted to the jury, which found that the defendant was vicariously liable for the negligence of its vendor.

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A person who is injured in an auto accident may be able to recover damages against the negligent driver who caused the collision.  Negligence on the part of the injured driver is not necessarily a bar to recovering damages.  In a February 26, 2021 negligence case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered the effect of the plaintiff’s alleged negligence with respect to a multi-vehicle collision.

The plaintiff in the case was driving on a three-lane boulevard in rush hour traffic when her mini-van overheated and stalled in the right lane.  The road did not have any shoulder onto which she could move the van.  The driver of the car behind the plaintiff’s van attempted to move into the middle lane just as a pick-up truck from the far left lane merged into the same middle lane.  The truck collided with the car, causing the car to be propelled into the plaintiff’s stalled mini-van.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury action against the drivers of the car and the truck, alleging negligence.  The defendants, in turn, claimed that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in causing the accident.  The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiff had been negligent.  The plaintiff then appealed the decision.

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