Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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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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.

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.

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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