In some in Maryland car accident cases, the evidence presented to a jury may have a significant impact on the outcome of the trial. In a February 12, 2019 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether evidence of prior auto accident injuries was irrelevant or prejudicial to a plaintiff seeking underinsured motorist benefits from his auto insurance company.
The plaintiff in the case was rear-ended at low speed while his vehicle was stopped at a red light. Later that day, the plaintiff sought medical treatment for pain in his neck, back, knees, hips, elbows, and for nausea and headaches. He underwent an MRI, which revealed preexisting, degenerative changes to his neck and back. Over the next several years, the plaintiff intermittently received medical treatment for the pain.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit for underinsured motorist benefits against his insurer, as the policy limits of the at-fault motorist did not cover all of his damages. Before trial, the plaintiff filed a motion to prevent the jury from learning about his other claims and injuries in six previous car accidents, as well as the one that occurred after the accident at issue in the case. The trial court, however, allowed the defendant to introduce evidence of the accidents that had caused injuries to the same parts of the plaintiff’s body as the crash at issue. The jury ultimately awarded the plaintiff over $28,000, but it only covered a fraction of his medical expenses. As such, the plaintiff sought review from the appeals court, seeking the full amount of his damages.