Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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.plane

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.car crash

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.cement trucks

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.rain on cars

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.car

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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If a negligent driver doesn’t have adequate insurance to fully compensate you for the loss you suffered in an accident, you may have to seek uninsured or underinsured coverage from your own insurance company. You can avoid some frustration by hiring an experienced Maryland car accident attorney to advance your claim and pursue damages in court upon a denial, as the plaintiffs did in a November 3, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. After their insurance company denied coverage for the wrongful death of their son, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against them in court.road work

The victim in the case was killed on the job by a motorist as he was directing traffic in a construction zone. The company for which the victim worked was insured by the defendant. The surviving family members sought to collect underinsured motor vehicle benefits from the defendant, after the motorist’s insurance coverage of $100,000 had been paid out and was exhausted. The defendant denied the claim, alleging that the employer’s policy with the defendant did not provide uninsured or underinsured coverage for its employees or their survivors.

Generally, Maryland courts will first look at the insurance policy contract to determine the rights and obligations of the parties, interpreting the plain meaning of the language.  Only when the language is ambiguous may the court consider evidence outside the context of the contract.

To succeed in a Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to use reasonable care.  The standard of care required often depends on the circumstances of the case.  In a Maryland car accident case, for example, a driver is expected to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others.  A November 14, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates how the standard of care may vary when a person driving on icy roads is faced with a sudden emergency.icy road

In the case, the plaintiff was driving her family minivan at night on an wet and icy road.  The defendant drove an armored truck behind her at a distance of approximately two vehicle lengths.  When the plaintiff suddenly stopped her van, the defendant immediately applied his brakes but slid on the road.  In an attempt to avoid hitting the plaintiff’s van, the defendant swerved to the right and moved his truck onto an elevated grassy area beside the road.  Although the defendant avoided a direct collision, his truck clipped the rear bumper of the plaintiff’s van.  The plaintiff subsequently filed a negligence claim against the defendant.

After trial, the jury was instructed to measure the reasonableness of the defendant’s actions compared to those of other drivers facing the same sudden and real emergency.  The jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff appealed the verdict, arguing that the trial court erred in providing the jury instruction for acts in emergencies.  In particular, the plaintiff contended that it was not sufficiently supported by the evidence.

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Proving that a negligent driver caused a plaintiff’s injuries can be difficult in some car accident cases, as illustrated in a September 26, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals.  It can help, however, to hire a dedicated Maryland car accident attorney to ensure that the facts are presented persuasively to a jury.  The plaintiff in the case brought a negligence claim against the driver who rear-ended her vehicle as they were both merging onto a traffic circle.  After a jury found the defendant was not negligent, the plaintiff appealed.intersection

At the time of the accident, the defendant was driving behind the plaintiff in the same direction as they approached a traffic circle in the middle of three lanes.  The plaintiff stopped her vehicle, as did the defendant.  The defendant testified that she saw the plaintiff started to accelerate, which prompted her to accelerate into the circle.  The defendant checked her blind spot to check traffic, and in that brief interval, their vehicles collided.  The plaintiff, however, testified that she had been at a complete stop for some time when the defendant rear-ended her.

In Maryland, every driver must exercise the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise under similar circumstances.  In a rear-end collision, the question of whether the following driver neglected to use care is ordinarily for the jury to decide.  Only in exceptional cases, in which it is clear that reasonable minds would not differ with regard to the facts, will the court disturb a jury verdict on the question of negligence.  The question on appeal, therefore, is whether there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the defendant was not negligent.

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Pedestrians can suffer serious and life-long injuries in Maryland car accidents, even when traveling at a low speed. In an October 3, 2017 case, a plaintiff was struck by a car as she walked from the parking lot toward the entrance of a grocery store, resulting in a broken knee. On the night of the accident, it was dark and rainy, and the plaintiff was wearing black clothes and carrying a black umbrella. She walked toward the crosswalk after looking both ways, and she was then struck by a car. The plaintiff subsequently brought a Maryland negligence claim against the driver of the vehicle.crosswalk

The case went to trial, and although the jury found both parties negligent, it also found that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the injury and awarded the plaintiff damages for her medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The defendant moved the court to enter a judgment in favor of him, notwithstanding the jury verdict. The trial court granted the motion, finding the evidence on the issue of last clear chance was insufficient, and the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting a judgment for the defendant because the evidence was sufficient to find that the defendant had failed to avail himself of the last clear chance to avoid the collision, and secondly, the contributory negligence instruction was erroneous and prejudicial. The court first explained that the doctrine of last clear chance generally requires a sequential, fresh opportunity for the defendant to avoid the plaintiff’s injury. While the court admitted it strained to find evidence of such a fresh opportunity, it did not definitively answer the question, choosing instead to focus on the dispositive issue of contributory negligence.

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Maryland law holds every person responsible for their negligent actions, which may lead to harsh results for those who have been injured in Maryland car accidents.  In an October 5, 2017 case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed an injury claim arising out of a head-on motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiff in the case was driving southbound when the defendant attempted to make a left turn.  The defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff’s vehicle on the driver’s side, causing it to flip.  The plaintiff suffered significant injuries in the accident, including two broken legs.  He brought suit against the driver of the other vehicle, alleging negligence.intersection

At trial, the primary issue for the jury was whether the plaintiff’s speed contributed to the accident.  The speed limit on the road was 40 miles per hour.  The plaintiff testified that he believed he was driving 45 miles per hour, but he admitted that he typically drove with the flow of traffic and that he was not paying attention to his speedometer.

The defendant contended that the plaintiff’s actual speed was much higher and supported his argument with an accident reconstruction engineer.  The expert presented a series of calculations that indicated the plaintiff was likely traveling at a rate of at least 60 miles per hour.  The expert explained that if the plaintiff had been traveling at the speed limit, the defendant would have cleared the intersection before the plaintiff reached the point of collision.  The jury ultimately returned a verdict finding that the defendant was negligent but also finding that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent and was therefore barred from recovery.

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