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Determining the appropriate circuit court in which to file a Maryland personal injury action depends on several factors.  In certain situations, the plaintiff’s initial choice of venue may be transferred to another court at the request of a defendant.  In a September 23, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether a circuit court had properly granted the defendant’s motion for a change of venue.

The plaintiff in the case alleged that he suffered injuries as a result of a forklift accident at the defendant’s warehouse, which was located in Howard County.  The accident occurred as the plaintiff was moving boxes onto a loading dock.  At the same time, an employee of the defendant was operating a forklift to transport trash from the loading dock.  The plaintiff claimed that the employee struck and rolled over the plaintiff with the forklift, causing bodily injuries.

The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the employee operating the forklift and the defendant in the circuit court for Prince George’s County.  The defendant subsequently moved to transfer venue to Howard County, arguing that its principal place of business is in Howard County, the accident occurred in Howard County, and at least some witnesses would be from Howard County.  When the court granted the motion, the plaintiff appealed. 

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In some Maryland car accident cases, financial losses from personal injuries and property damage may be covered by more than one type of insurance policy.  In a September 29, 2021 case, the question for the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether the liability limits of an auto insurance policy and an umbrella insurance policy could be combined, despite the household exclusion contained therein.

The case arose out of a tragic car accident that seriously injured the plaintiff and claimed the lives of her parents and sibling.  It occurred as plaintiff’s father was driving the family to a high school play.  As he made a left turn, their vehicle was struck by a sedan traveling at approximately 115 miles per hour.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s father had a primary auto liability policy and an umbrella liability policy issued by the insurance company named as the defendant in the case.  The primary policy had a liability coverage limit of $500,000 for personal injuries and property damage for each accident.  The umbrella policy had a coverage limit of $2 million in excess of the automobile liability coverage.  The umbrella policy also contained a household exclusion provision, which stated that the policy did not cover claims for injuries to any person related to an insured by blood, marriage, or adoption residing in the household of the insured.

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Pedestrian injuries may arise from defective or crumbling sidewalks, construction debris, and improperly maintained infrastructure, such as water meters.  In an October 20, 2021 case, the plaintiff was injured as a result of a loose water meter cover.  When she stepped on the water meter, the lid moved, causing her leg to fall into the hole beneath.  The plaintiff was taken to the hospital by her family, where she was treated for her injuries.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability suit against Baltimore City, alleging that it was liable for injuries caused by the dangerous condition of the water meter cover.  The jury ultimately found that the City was liable, and awarded damages to the plaintiff.  The City subsequently appealed, and the case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Under Maryland law, before a government municipality can be liable for a dangerous condition, it must have had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition prior to the plaintiff’s injury.  A municipality has actual notice when its employees either personally observed the dangerous condition, or were informed of the dangerous condition.  Constructive notice occurs when the dangerous condition has existed for so long that the municipality should have learned of it by exercising due care.

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In Maryland, actions brought under the Health Care and Malpractice Act include lawsuits for negligent dental treatment, in addition to medical malpractice.  To establish a dental negligence action, opinion testimony from a dental or medical expert witness is generally required.  In an August 11, 2021 case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether a lower court erred in determining that the expert opinions of the plaintiff’s witnesses were inadmissible evidence, which then served as the basis for granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

The plaintiff in the case alleged that she suffered a permanent loss of feeling in her tongue as a result of her oral surgeon severing lingual nerves in her jaw during the extraction of her wisdom teeth.  She filed a lawsuit asserting malpractice claims against the doctor, the surgery center, and the dentist who treated her afterward.

The plaintiff designated two expert witnesses to testify that her injury was more likely than not caused by a severed lingual nerve, which was preventable had the defendants not deviated from the standard of care when removing her wisdom teeth.  Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgement, arguing that the plaintiff’s expert opinion evidence was insufficient.  The trial court granted the motion, finding that the expert opinions were inadmissible because they relied on impermissible inferences of negligence and were not based on the plaintiff’s treatment records.

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Personal injuries occurring on construction sites often involve independent contractors, sub-contractors, and their respective employees.  Whether a property owner and/or another sub-contractor on site may be held liable for these types of accidents was the question for the Court of Special Appeals in an October 1, 2021 Maryland wrongful death case.

The case involved the tragic death of a young construction worker who was killed when an excavation wall collapsed on the job site.  The decedent was the employee of a contractor hired by the City to fix a clogged pipe buried deep in the ground.  Although the contractor who employed the decedent was negligent in failing to ensure that the excavation wall was properly supported, legal action against was barred by Maryland workers’ compensation laws.  Instead, the decedent’s family filed suit against the City and another sub-contractor working on the site.  The plaintiffs claimed that the City was liable for the decedent’s death by failing to hire a qualified contractor to properly and safely do the job, and that the sub-contractor was liable by failing to ensure that the work was performed safely and appropriately.

As a general rule, the employer of an independent contractor is not liable for physical harm caused to another by the acts and omissions of a contractor and the contractor’s employees.  The lack of liability is often a major reason one would hire an independent contractor, rather than having one’s own employee do the job.  There are many exceptions under Maryland law, however, which were considered by the court on appeal.

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In some Maryland auto accident cases, insurance coverage for personal injuries may be available under multiple policies.  Generally, the laws of the state in which the policy was issued govern coverage disputes.   In a September 21, 2021 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether underinsured motorist coverage was available for a Delaware resident under an insurance policy issued to a Maryland resident.

The plaintiff in the case was a Delaware resident.  She was named as an “additional driver” of a vehicle insured by her daughter, a Maryland resident, under a Maryland auto insurance policy.  The plaintiff was injured in an accident in Delaware, in which she was the passenger of a car that was not insured by the Maryland policy at issue.  The plaintiff settled with the driver’s insurance company for his policy limits of $15,000, which was insufficient to cover all of her damages.  The plaintiff then claimed underinsured motorist benefits under the Maryland policy issued to her daughter, which the insurance company denied.

The plaintiff filed suit against the insurance company that issued her daughter’s policy.  When the circuit court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff appealed to the higher court.

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A Maryland personal injury case may involve many forms of evidence, including witness testimony, medical bills, photographs and/or video, among others.  Generally, non-testimonial items of evidence must be authenticated before they are admitted at trial.  Depending on the type of evidence, authentication may be made by a lay witness, or it may require an expert to lay the foundation.  In a September 30, 2021 premises liability case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland addressed the requirements to admit digital file metadata of a cell phone picture at trial. 

The plaintiff in the case fell on the sidewalk while walking her dogs, suffering a broken right foot, two sprained wrists, and a fractured left knee cap.  The plaintiff alleged that she had stepped on a piece of concrete debris on the sidewalk, which caused her to fall.  She filed suit against the City, which owned the sidewalks, as well as the contractor hired by the City to repair them.

At trial, the plaintiff’s friend testified that after arriving at the plaintiff’s home to take her to Urgent Care, she went outside and took photographs of the concrete debris with her iPhone, which were later admitted into evidence.  The friend also admitted that she had moved the debris so that others would not fall.

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In some situations, a health care provider may violate the standard of care by not informing a patient of the potentially serious side effects of a medication.  In a September 24, 2021 case, the plaintiff brought claims for medical malpractice and lack of informed consent against his doctors, alleging that he was not properly informed of the high infertility risks of his prescribed medication.  The case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland on review of the lower court’s decision granting summary judgment in favor of one of the defendants.

In March of 2010, when the plaintiff was in his mid-20s, he was hospitalized for cough and shortness of breath.  Thereafter, the plaintiff sought treatment from a pulmonologist, who prescribed increasing dosages of Cytoxan.  The plaintiff’s care was assumed by a second doctor in February of 2011, who continued treatment with Cytoxan, without significant improvement, until the plaintiff was fully weaned off the medication in May of 2013.

In 2016, the plaintiff was diagnosed with infertility due to Cytoxan toxicity.  The plaintiff brought a medical malpractice action in 2018 against the two doctors who treated him.  The plaintiff alleged that he was not properly informed of the high infertility risks of Cytoxan, and as a result, he did not have his fertility monitored or take any other action to preserve his ability to have children.  The circuit court granted summary judgment as to the claims of the first doctor as time barred.  The plaintiff appealed that decision.

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When bringing a legal action in Maryland, it is important that the initial filing, known as the Complaint, contain all of the allegations that are relevant and essential to the claims asserted.  In a May 4, 2021 personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether a trial court properly excluded testimony of material facts that were not specifically alleged in the Complaint.  The plaintiff had brought the action against two police officers, alleging claims for battery, negligence, and punitive damages, among others.

The plaintiff in the case had been involved in a motor vehicle accident and was waiting at a nearby gas station with the other driver as law enforcement arrived.  One of the responding officers, allegedly smelling marijuana and alcohol, conducted a search of the plaintiff.  Although details of the ensuing altercation between the officer and the plaintiff were disputed, it ultimately resulted in the plaintiff being tasered, arrested, and charged with several crimes, which were later dropped by the state attorney.

In a deposition before trial, the plaintiff stated that he was kicked and punched, in addition to being tasered.  When the plaintiff testified as to the same allegations at trial, the defense objected.  The trial court granted the objection, finding that the testimony was irrelevant insofar as such acts were not alleged in the Complaint.  After the jury found for the defendants, the plaintiff appealed.

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For victims of hit-and-run accidents in Maryland, seeking compensation for injuries may seem hopeless.  In many cases, uninsured motorist coverage may be available through an auto insurance policy held by the driver or injured passenger.  In a September 13, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether or not an insurance company wrongfully denied the plaintiff’s claim for uninsured motorist benefits.

The plaintiff in the case was riding as a passenger in her daughter’s vehicle when they were rear-ended by a truck.  The truck then fled the scene before the driver could be identified.  At the time of the accident, the plaintiff and her daughter lived in the same household.  The plaintiff’s daughter was insured under a policy that provided uninsured motorist coverage of up to $30,000 per individual.  The plaintiff held a separate policy issued by the same insurer, with limits of $300,000 per individual for uninsured motorist coverage.

Because the plaintiff’s medical expenses exceeded the amount of her daughter’s policy limits, the plaintiff sought uninsured motorist benefits under both policies.  The insurance company accepted the claim made under her daughter’s policy, but denied the claim made under her own policy.  The plaintiff subsequently filed suit against the insurer for breach of the insurance contract.  After the circuit court granted summary judgment for the insurer, the plaintiff appealed to the higher court.

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