Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

In some Maryland car accident cases, the actions of multiple drivers may be the causes of the collision.  Proving a defendant’s liability in these injury cases can be difficult, and the plaintiff may not be able to recover damages in a Maryland personal injury lawsuit if her own negligence was a proximate cause of the accident.  In a July 9, 2019 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland grappled with a tragic wrongful death case brought by the family of a young driver who killed in a fatal car accident.

The victim in the case was driving on her learner’s permit.  Traveling westward on a side road, the victim reached a stop sign at the intersection of a four-lane highway.  The defendant was driving a truck northbound on the highway, traveling at 11 miles over the speed limit.  As the victim entered the intersection, the defendant’s truck collided with her vehicle.  Following the fatal accident, the victim’s family filed a negligence suit against the truck driver and his employer.

The issue on appeal was whether or not the victim was contributorily negligent in causing the accident, as she was required to yield the right-of-way to vehicles traveling on the highway.  In Maryland, the Boulevard Rule requires the driver of a car approaching an intersection from a road controlled by a stop sign to stop and yield the right of way to cars traveling on the main road.  Nevertheless, a failure to yield will not necessarily relieve the driver on the main road of liability.  If the negligence of the highway driver was the proximate cause of an accident, they may be held liable, despite the other driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way.

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In a typical Maryland car accident case, plaintiffs may recover damages if they establish that the negligence of the other driver caused their injuries.  In collisions involving government or police officer vehicles, however, the issue of immunity may arise, as in a July 22, 2019 case.  The question before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether a police officer could claim partial immunity under a statute that provided immunity for operators of emergency vehicles.

The plaintiff in the case had suffered injuries as a result of a car accident involving a police officer.  The accident occurred as the police officer, responding to a call for an assault in progress, drove towards the location to serve as backup for another officer.  The officer and other witnesses testified that she had activated her vehicle’s emergency lights and siren before approaching an intersection.  As she proceeded through the intersection, the plaintiff’s car collided with the front end of the police officer’s car.  The plaintiff subsequently filed suit to recover damages stemming from the accident.

The police officer claimed immunity under a statute for emergency service responders.  Under the Maryland law, the operator of an emergency vehicle is granted partial immunity when the vehicle is involved in an accident that occurs in the performance of emergency service.  After the trial court concluded that the police officer was entitled to such immunity, the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.  She then pursued an appeal with the higher court.

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Car accident cases involving pedestrians can result in serious and life-long injuries.  Many injury victims choose to pursue a Maryland personal injury claim to recover for their damages, as the plaintiff did in a July 16, 2019 case.  The case arose out of an automobile accident on a snowy winter day.

The defendant in the case was driving her car slowly through the snow.  As she approached a sharp, downhill turn, however, she lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway.  Her vehicle reportedly hit the plaintiff, who was clearing snow in his neighbor’s driveway.  The plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the collision and filed a negligence suit against the driver for damages.

After a trial, the jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff brought an appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury.  Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the jury should have been instructed to consider a statute under the Maryland Transportation Code providing that the driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian and shall, if necessary, warn any pedestrian by sounding the horn of the vehicle.

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Insurance coverage and damage amounts are often contested issues between car accident victims and their motor vehicle insurers.  As illustrated in a June 6, 2019 Maryland wrongful death case, the procedural aspects of a claim may be crucial for the surviving family members to recover the full amount of damages sought.

The case arose out of a car accident involving the plaintiff, which resulted in the death of the other driver.  At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was driving a car owned by another individual.  A year after the accident, no survival or wrongful death claims had been filed by the driver’s survivors.  The plaintiff, the plaintiff’s insurance company, and the car owner’s insurance company subsequently filed a Complaint for Interpleader, in which they conceded liability for the other driver’s death to his survivors.

A hearing was held on the matter, at which counsel for the survivors informed the trial court that he wished to work with the potential beneficiaries to resolve the apportionment of the policy proceeds without further litigation.  The trial court then signed two proposed orders provided by the plaintiffs, which allowed each insurer to deposit an amount totaling $600,000 into an account for apportionment among the beneficiaries after they negotiated their respective interests.

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In some cases, a driver who caused a car accident may not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate for the resulting injuries.  An injured person, however, may seek payment from their own insurance company for the remaining damages if they have coverage.  In a June 4, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the plaintiff filed suit against her insurer after it denied her claim for underinsured motorist benefits.  The lower court dismissed her action, and she filed the current appeal.

The plaintiff in the case was involved in a motor vehicle collision in April 2011.  As a result of the accident, she suffered injuries.  The driver who caused the crash was insured under an auto policy that provided liability coverage up to $20,000.  In April 2013, the driver’s insurance company offered the plaintiff the maximum amount available under the policy to settle the claims against the driver.  Days later, the plaintiff’s insurance company agreed to the settlement offer and waived its subrogation rights against the other driver.  In February 2014, the plaintiff executed the settlement agreement and waiver releasing the driver and the driver’s insurance company from liability for the policy limit of $20,000.

In January 2015, the plaintiff sought payment from her insurer to cover the rest of the damages she suffered in the accident.  Although the plaintiff’s insurance policy did include underinsured motorist coverage, her claim was not immediately approved.  The plaintiff filed a legal action against her insurance company in September 2016 to recover the amount of damages in excess of the $20,000 settlement. The circuit court ruled that the plaintiff did not file her action before the deadline provided by the statute of limitations, and it dismissed the case.

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A car crash may be the result of multiple factors, including negligence on the part of both drivers.  In a May 3, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered the issue of the plaintiff’s negligence.  The plaintiff appealed the matter after the trial jury found her partially responsible for the collision, thus barring her recovery.

The accident occurred at an intersection controlled by flashing red and yellow traffic lights.  The plaintiff was traveling on the eastbound road, which was controlled by a flashing yellow light.  The defendant was on the southbound road with the flashing red light.  As the plaintiff approached the intersection, she claimed that the defendant pulled out in front of her between cars that were stopped in the westbound lanes.  The plaintiff could not stop in time and collided into the defendant’s vehicle.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, who asserted that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.  The plaintiff argued that the defendant could not establish that defense because she entered the intersection with the right of way and, as such, was not negligent as a matter of law.

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If an insurance company refuses to cover your injuries after a Maryland car accident case, you may have to take legal action.  In some situations, you may be able to recover your attorney’s fees and court costs in bringing the lawsuit.  In an April 16, 2019 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an auto insurance company should have been ordered to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs after she successfully obtained a settlement.

The plaintiff in the case was injured in a motor vehicle collision in Maryland.  The driver who caused the accident was in a rental car at the time.  He was insured by the defendant insurance company under a policy issued to him in West Virginia, which provided liability coverage up to $20,000.  Following the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against the driver.  The defendant offered to settle the suit for the coverage limits of the driver’s policy.  The plaintiff refused the settlement offer, asserting that because the accident occurred in Maryland, the other driver should have been covered for up to $30,000 for bodily injury liability.

The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment from the court to establish that $30,000 of liability coverage was available to her under the other driver’s insurance policy.  The defendant ultimately offered her $30,000 to settle the case, which she accepted.  The plaintiff then filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs based upon the declaratory judgment action she had pursued against the defendant.  When the court denied the request, the plaintiff appealed.

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Some personal injury actions are complicated due to the involvement of multiple defendants and competing theories of liability.  In an April 3, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, which resulted in a judgment against the two defendants.

The plaintiff in the case was injured in a three-car accident.  The first defendant owned the vehicle that caused a chain reaction collision.  On the night of the accident, the first defendant was socializing at a restaurant bar with a man she had met that night.  Believing that she was too intoxicated to drive, she allowed the man to drive her vehicle because she had not seen him consume any drinks.  During the drive, the man began driving erratically and at an excessive rate of speed.  While being pursued by police, the first defendant’s vehicle struck the median past a traffic intersection and became airborne, traveling over three other cars before crashing into the side of the street.

The plaintiff alleged that, after the first defendant’s vehicle came to a stop, the second defendant’s vehicle suddenly accelerated through the intersection, hit the median, and struck the front driver’s side of her vehicle.  Throughout the case, the second defendant maintained that he was rendered unconscious as a result of being hit by the first defendant’s vehicle, and that his incapacitation led him to strike the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The plaintiff testified that she could not determine whether the second defendant was unconscious as his vehicle approached hers, nor could she recall how much time had passed after the first defendant crashed and when the second defendant’s vehicle struck her car.

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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.

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In some Maryland personal injury cases, a business employer may be responsible for injuries caused by the carelessness of their employees.  When an independent contractor or state or government entity is involved, however, there may be specific legal concepts to consider.  In a January 23, 2019 Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff appealed after the circuit court dismissed his claims against a local sanitary commission for the negligence of an independent subcontractor.

The plaintiff in the case was injured in an accident that occurred when his vehicle hit a manhole that was only partially covered.  The plaintiff sued to recover damages from the local sanitary commission, which was responsible for the manhole cover.  The commission argued that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the negligence of a subcontractor of an independent contractor that it hired.  The commission claimed it had no control over the subcontractor and, therefore, could not be vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

In Maryland, the general rule is that the employer of an independent contractor is not liable for the negligence of the contractor or his employees.  However, there are a number of exceptions to the general rule that would extend liability to those who hire independent contractors.  These exceptions include the employer’s negligence in selecting or supervising the contractor, non-delegable duties of the employer to the public or a particular plaintiff, and work that is inherently dangerous.

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