Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

It may be necessary to take legal action against an insurance company or negligent driver after a car accident.  A Maryland car accident attorney can assist plaintiffs by properly filing the lawsuit.  An August 8, 2018 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates the importance of understanding these legal procedures.The plaintiffs in the case were injured when their car was rear-ended by another driver.  The police report correctly named the driver but combined the name of the driver’s mother with the name of the driver when identifying the owner of the vehicle.  In fact, the vehicle was co-leased by both the driver and his mother.  The plaintiffs filed negligence actions solely against the mother.  After the statute of limitations had expired, the plaintiffs filed motions to add the driver to the lawsuit.  The circuit court denied the motions, and the plaintiffs appealed.

In Maryland, most civil actions must be filed within three years from the date they accrue.  Failing to file a timely lawsuit, absent a statutory exception, bars the case from proceeding further.  Amendments to the complaint, including the addition of another defendant, are freely allowed if filed within the statute of limitations.  Once the statute of limitations has run, a party is generally barred from adding a new defendant to the complaint.  The “relation back” doctrine, however, permits an amendment adding a misnamed party if the factual situation remains essentially the same after the amendment as it was before, and the party had timely notice of his status as a defendant.

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Filing an insurance claim after a car accident can be overwhelming.  Many people seek guidance from a Maryland injury attorney to help them navigate through the process.  In a July 12, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland decided a complex dispute between two insurance companies.  The primary issue was which company’s policy provided primary coverage to an injured claimant.

The claimant in the case was a passenger of an automobile that was involved in an accident.  The driver of the other vehicle that caused the accident was uninsured.  The claimant was insured by the plaintiff (Company A), while the owner of the automobile she rode in was insured by the defendant (Company B).  Both of the policies provided uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage and it was not disputed that UM/UIM coverage was available to the claimant.  However, the Company B policy had a UM/UIM limit of $100,000, while the limit under the Company A policy was $300,000.  The dispute was whether one policy provided primary UM/UIM coverage, or whether both policies provided coverage on a pro rata basis.

Company A argued that Company B was the primary carrier, so Company B must pay out its full policy limit of $100,000 before Company A has any obligation to cover the remaining amount.  Company B argued that the dispute must be resolved by looking to the language of the insurance contracts, which limited its obligation pro rata to coverage of other primary insurers.

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After a car accident, a claim for medical expenses and other damages is typically submitted to the insurance company.  If the insurance company delays or refuses to pay the claim, however, accident victims may be unsure of their legal recourse.  Many people choose to hire a Maryland car accident attorney to file an insurance claim on their behalf and represent them in any subsequent legal action.  A lack of legal knowledge and training could be detrimental in bringing a lawsuit against a big insurance company.

In a June 12, 2018 case, the plaintiff represented himself in a lawsuit against his insurance company to recover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.  The plaintiff in the case had been involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured motorist.  The plaintiff’s insurance company paid him the $2,500 policy limit of his personal injury protection benefits as a result of the accident.  Thereafter, the plaintiff sought additional coverage pursuant to his uninsured motorist policy for medical expenses he incurred approximately six months after the accident to treat whiplash.  The insurance company rejected the claim, and the plaintiff filed a lawsuit with the Maryland circuit court.

The plaintiff’s bad faith claim and claim for punitive damages were dismissed by the court, and the matter went to trial on the breach of contract claim.  At trial, the plaintiff attempted to introduce his medical records and bills without expert testimony.  The court sustained the insurance company’s objection, ruling that the plaintiff could not testify as to the medical opinions, diagnoses, or amount of the bills.  Consequently, and due to the lack of expert testimony, the court granted the insurance company’s motion for judgment, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to prove his claim that the insurance company had breached their contract.  The plaintiff then appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

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If you are seeking compensation from the person responsible for your injuries, fair legal proceedings are important.  An experienced Maryland car accident attorney can assert your rights at trial by objecting to the submission of prejudicial evidence.  As demonstrated in a May 18, 2018 car accident case, the admission of certain documents and testimony in a jury trial could have a significant impact on the outcome.

The plaintiff in the case was rear-ended by the defendant while she was stopped in traffic.  The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging that she was injured as a result of his negligent driving.  One of the defenses asserted by the defendant was that his brakes failed.  After a three-day trial, a jury found that the defendant was not negligent.  One of the plaintiff’s major arguments on appeal was that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a repair invoice.  The invoice contained notes written by the mechanic about information he obtained from the defendant, as well as statements regarding the repairs made to the defendant’s vehicle.

It was undisputed that the statements contained in the invoice concerning the condition of the defendant’s brakes were hearsay.  Hearsay is generally inadmissible, unless it falls under an exception.  The trial court admitted the invoice under the residual exception.  The residual exception to the hearsay rule provides that a hearsay statement that otherwise does not fall under any other exception may be admitted if it is relatively trustworthy, if it is more probative as to an issue than any other evidence that can reasonably be obtained, if advance notice of the statement is provided, and if doing so will best serve the interests of justice.

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Even if a legal concept provides for an unfortunate outcome, an experienced car accident attorney will be prepared to argue persuasively in your favor.  In an April 20, 2018 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether the doctrine of imputed negligence would apply to prevent the injured plaintiff from recovering damages from the defendant.  After the lower court entered judgment in favor of the defendant, Maryland’s highest court had the opportunity to decide whether the application of the doctrine should be overruled in the context of owner-passenger car accident cases.

The plaintiff and her husband drove to a restaurant to pick up their carry-out meal.  The plaintiff’s husband was driving the vehicle, which was solely registered in the plaintiff’s name.  The plaintiff was riding in the passenger seat.  The husband parked across two handicapped spots behind the defendant’s truck and went inside the restaurant to get their dinner.  As the plaintiff waited in the car, the defendant backed up his truck out of his parking space into her vehicle.  The plaintiff suffered injuries to her shoulder as a result of the accident.

Under the doctrine of imputed negligence, the owner of a vehicle who allows someone else to drive while remaining inside as a passenger may be held liable for any negligence of the driver.  It is not based on any negligence of the owner-passenger; instead, it is a form of vicarious liability.  Since the plaintiff’s husband was found negligent by parking perpendicular to a handicapped space behind the defendant’s vehicle, his negligence was imputed to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff was therefore barred from recovering damages under the doctrine of contributory negligence.

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A skilled Maryland car accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts of an accident in order to support the viability of a client’s negligence claim.  As illustrated in a February 20, 2018 decision by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the details were crucial in reversing the dismissal of a plaintiff’s car accident case.

The case arose out of a December 2008 motor vehicle collision, which occurred within the federal enclave of a military base.  The defendant was driving a government vehicle when she struck the plaintiff’s SUV.   At the time of the accident, the defendant was on active duty.

In November 2009, the plaintiff filed a claim with the appropriate federal agency, as required before bringing a lawsuit in federal court against the United States.  The matter was transferred to another agency, and the plaintiff subsequently filed her case in federal court in 2011.  The federal court dismissed the case, finding that the defendant was not acting within the scope of her employment because she was going to a medical appointment.  The plaintiff then filed suit in Maryland circuit court against the defendant and the plaintiff’s own insurance carrier in 2013.  The circuit court dismissed the case, ruling that the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.

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It is important to be aware of changes in Maryland motor vehicle insurance laws that may affect your coverage with your automobile insurer.  A January 31, 2018 Maryland car accident case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates the difficulties that may arise if coverage expectations are not met.

In the case, the plaintiff brought suit against her own insurance company for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits after she was involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver and suffered injuries.  The insurance company denied her claim, arguing that her UM coverage was limited to $75,000, despite a $300,000 liability limit on her policy.

Under Maryland’s motor vehicle insurance laws, unless waived, the amount of UM coverage provided under a car insurance policy must equal the amount of liability coverage provided under the policy. The statute requiring equal coverage was effective only for motor vehicle insurance policies issued or delivered on or after October 1, 1992.  To waive equality coverage, the first named insured must sign a statement in writing to that effect.

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Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles can cause serious damage, injuries, and even death upon a collision with a passenger car.  A February 12, 2018 wrongful death case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland arose after a woman died in a car accident involving a cement truck.  The victim’s family brought a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit against the cement truck company, arguing that it was overloaded.  When the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the plaintiffs appealed.

At the time of the accident, the victim was driving on a two-way road while the surface was wet with rain and snow.  As she attempted to give way to an oncoming emergency vehicle, she lost control of her car and crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic.  Her vehicle was struck by a loaded cement mixer delivery truck owned by the defendant.  The cement truck, weighing more than 60,000 pounds, was determined to be over the allowable weight limit of 10,000 pounds for the road on which it was traveling.  The driver was also going about five miles over the posted speed limit.

The trial court granted summary judgment on the basis that the victim’s vehicle crossing into the oncoming traffic lane was the proximate cause of the accident, implicitly finding that the defendant’s actions did not cause the accident.  The plaintiffs argued that the defendant’s violation of the weight restriction was evidence of its negligence, and they alleged that the violation contributed to the victim’s injuries and death.

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When pursuing a lawsuit for personal injury damages arising out of a Maryland car accident, the plaintiff must prove the amount of loss caused by the defendant’s negligence. The defense can present its own evidence and witnesses to rebut the plaintiff’s proof. In a February 2, 2017 decision by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the primary issue was whether the trial court erred by allowing the jury to view medical records used by an expert witness in giving his opinion.

The plaintiff in the case was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended by the defendant. Over the next three years, the plaintiff was treated for a variety of health issues, including her shoulder. She filed suit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant’s negligent driving caused her injuries. While a rear-end accident is almost always caused by negligent driving, the main focus at trial was whether all of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries were caused by the accident.

During the trial, the defendant presented his expert witness, an orthopedic surgeon who had examined the plaintiff pursuant to the litigation. The expert testified that, based on his examination of the plaintiff and a review of her medical records, he believed many of the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident but instead were results of preexisting or unrelated conditions. Although the plaintiff had not introduced some of her prior medical records into evidence, the defendant moved to enter them into evidence. The trial court ruled that since the expert had relied on them in forming his opinion, the records could be admitted into evidence and shared with the jury.

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In many cases, a rear-end car accident is caused by a negligent driver.  In order to recover compensation from the other driver, however, a plaintiff must prove that he also suffered an injury or loss and that his injuries were caused by the driver’s negligence.  In a January 3, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a personal injury claim involving a rear-end accident.  The parties stipulated that the defendant was negligent in causing the accident, but they left the issues of causation and damages for the jury to decide.  After the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed.

In the case, the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff as he was stopped at a red light at an intersection.  The impact caused the plaintiff’s car to collide with an SUV that was in front of his.  Nevertheless, the plaintiff’s airbags did not deploy, and there was no damage to the vehicles other than a scratch to the plaintiff’s rear bumper.  The parties were able to drive away from the accident scene, and the defendant was uninjured.

The plaintiff dropped off his passenger after the accident and drove himself to the emergency room.  The doctors took an x-ray of his shoulder and said he could return to work in two days.  A week later, the plaintiff sought treatment from his primary care physician, who referred him to another doctor.  The doctor treated the plaintiff over the course of two years, providing rehab and physical therapy services.  The plaintiff was able to continue playing sports throughout the time.

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