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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

In a recent Maryland wrongful death case, a tragic construction accident resulted in the death of a worker who was rigging a modular unit.  The decedent’s estate brought a negligence and wrongful death action against several defendants, including another subcontractor assisting with the construction.  After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed the decision in a July 28, 2021 opinion.

The decedent was a construction rigger for a subcontractor working on a new building on a school campus.  The building was constructed using prefabricated modular structures, which were lowered by a crane into a concrete foundation and welded together.  As the rigger on site, the decedent was responsible for planning the lifting configuration of the modular units.  Before the operation began, the defendant expressed safety concerns about the use of nylon straps and other equipment to secure and lift the unit into the foundation.  The operation proceeded as planned, however, and the unit was lifted while the decedent guided the crane operator.  After signaling to stop, the decedent moved to release the ratchet strap underneath the unit.  A few seconds later, the nylon straps severed, causing the unit to fall and trap the decedent.

 To succeed on a Maryland negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that he was owed a duty by the defendant, the defendant breached such duty, the plaintiff was injured, and the defendant’s breach proximately caused the injuries.  Even if all elements of negligence are proven, a plaintiff will be completely barred from recovery if the defendant establishes that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.  

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Generally, a car accident victim may seek compensation from the negligent driver for injuries.  In Maryland, however, a person may be barred from recovering damages if their own negligence contributed to the accident.  In a July 29, 2021 case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether a defendant could assert the defenses of contributory negligence or assumption of the risk to bar recovery in two successive automobile collisions.

The plaintiff in the case was driving in the left lane of the highway when the defendant, who was in the middle lane, attempted to enter the left lane.  The defendant did not see the plaintiff’s vehicle, however, and collided with the side of it.  The plaintiff stopped on the left shoulder of the highway, with part of his vehicle remaining on the road.  The defendant pulled over immediately behind him.  As they exchanged information, a third car traveling in the left lane stopped abruptly in order to avoid striking their vehicles.  A fourth vehicle rear-ended the third car, causing it to strike the defendant, who was outside her vehicle.

The plaintiff sued the defendant and the driver of the fourth vehicle, and the defendant asserted counterclaims.  Neither party disputed that the plaintiff was solely negligent in causing the first accident.  With respect to the second accident, a jury found both the plaintiff and defendant negligent.  Based on that verdict, the circuit court ruled that the plaintiff was barred from recovering damages for the first accident, due to his contributory negligence in causing the second accident.

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Black ice, sleet, and snow on untreated walkways and parking lots are a leading cause of slip and fall injuries.  In a July 20, 2021 Maryland negligence case, the plaintiff claimed that she was injured after slipping and falling on black ice in the parking lot of her condominium.  She brought suit against the owner and management company of her condominium complex, as well as the landscaping company they hired for snow and ice removal within the common areas of the complex.

The plaintiff alleged that on an early morning in January, she exited her condo and proceeded to walk to her car along a sidewalk that had recently been cleared of snow by the defendants.  The plaintiff stated that she slipped and fell on an area of “black ice” that was not visible because it blended in with the pavement.  In her suit, the plaintiff claimed that the defendants were negligent in failing to remove snow and ice, failing to use salt or de-icing chemicals, and failure to warn, among other allegations.  After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed the decision on appeal.

To establish negligence in a Maryland slip-and-fall case, four elements must be proven:  (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) an injury; and (4) that the injury was the proximate result of the defendant’s breach.  To prove the second element of breach, the plaintiff must establish not only that a dangerous condition existed, but also that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition, and the opportunity to remove it or give warning.

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Commercial and heavy-duty trucks can cause severe damage when they are involved in accidents with cars and smaller motor vehicles.  In a July 2, 2021 Maryland injury case, the plaintiff alleged that she suffered substantial personal injuries and damages after colliding with a garbage truck.  She brought a negligence action against the driver, the owner of the truck, and the operator of the trucking company that employed the driver.  The case was on appeal before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals following a jury verdict in favor of the defendants.

The plaintiff in the case was driving her grandson to elementary school, traveling northbound.  On the same road, a southbound garbage truck was attempting to turn across the northbound lane and onto a side street.  The plaintiff testified at trial that the driver of the garbage truck failed to yield to her, and that she was unable to avoid hitting the back of the truck as it turned across her lane of traffic.  The driver testified that he crossed the road when the plaintiff was approximately a quarter mile away, and that he believed the plaintiff was speeding and appeared distracted.

At the start of trial, the plaintiff moved to preclude the defendants’ expert from testifying.  The court denied the motion and allowed the expert to testify that in his opinion, if the plaintiff was driving 45 mph, she would have had ample time to see the truck and stop to avoid a collision.  After the jury found in favor of the defendants, the plaintiff appealed on grounds that the disclosure of the expert’s opinion was untimely.

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The evidence and testimony presented in a Maryland medical negligence case may be crucial to the outcome.  If one party objects to the evidence offered by an opposing party, the trial court will decide whether it is admissible.  In a July 12, 2021 medical malpractice case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether or not the lower court had erred in allowing evidence of the informed medical consent process, when the plaintiff had not asserted an informed consent claim against the defendant.

The plaintiff in the case underwent an outpatient hernia repair surgery performed by the defendant.  Five days later, the plaintiff returned to the hospital due to abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.  The plaintiff was transferred to the ER, and emergency surgery was performed to repair a colon perforation.  She underwent two subsequent operations the following month.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim, alleging that her doctor breached the standard of care for failure to inspect for a colotomy and failure to perform the appropriate surgery, among other claims.  Although the plaintiff did not assert an informed consent action, the trial court allowed the defendant to testify about the risks and complications of surgery that he discussed with the plaintiff before her operation.  After the trial, the jury found the defendant was not negligent. 

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In a recent court case, the parents of a sixth grader claimed that their daughter was injured as a result of allegedly negligent teachers and administrators at their daughter’s middle school.  The plaintiffs in the case filed a Maryland negligence suit following several incidents in which their daughter suffered injuries at the hands of her classmates.  In a July 1, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether the individual defendants were immune from suit under a federal statute.

The plaintiffs’ daughter in the case was involved in multiple physical and verbal altercations with other students at her school throughout her sixth grade year.  On two separate occasions, she suffered a concussion from attacks by her classmates.  She was also involved in a fistfight that resulted in the suspension of one student and notification of law enforcement.

The plaintiffs filed suit against teachers who were supervising the students when their daughter was injured, as well as the Board of Education.  The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.  The plaintiffs appealed that decision to the higher court.

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When a tenant is injured as a result of a defective condition on the property that they are leasing, they may have legal recourse in certain situations.  In a June 15, 2021 negligence case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals considered whether the circumstances were enough to hold a landlord liable for alleged injuries caused by a defective staircase.

The plaintiff in the case was a resident and lessee of a townhome owned by the defendant.  On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was walking down an interior wooden staircase of the property to the basement, which she had typically done about six times a week.  The plaintiff alleged that the staircase suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed.  As a result, the plaintiff fell and allegedly suffered severe personal injury.

The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against her landlord, alleging that they were responsible for the inspection, maintenance, care and repair of the premises, including the basement steps.  After the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed the decision.

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When a dog causes bodily injury to another person, the owner of the dog may be held liable for damages in some situations.  In a June 9, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Appeals considered whether, and under what circumstances, a non-owner may be held liable for injuries caused by a dog in their care.

The plaintiff in the case was sitting on her patio when a dog ran into her apartment through an open window, chasing her cat.  The plaintiff found the dog in the back bedroom of her apartment, where it had cornered the cat behind a cabinet.  As the plaintiff restrained the seventy-to-eighty pound dog by its collar, she injured her neck and left arm.  The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the defendants for her injuries.

The defendants in the case were the plaintiff’s neighbor and his girlfriend.  The girlfriend, who worked and resided in New Jersey, would visit the neighbor nearly every weekend.  The neighbor testified that “we” adopted the dog in Maryland two years prior to the incident, and both defendants were listed on the dog’s veterinary records.  Although the dog primarily stayed with the girlfriend, she always brought the dog when visiting the neighbor, who had set up a tethered area for the dog in his yard.

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School safety is an important issue for many parents.  In Maryland, schools have a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect students from harm.  If a school breaches its duty to a student, the school may be held liable for the resulting injuries.  In a May 7, 2021 case, a third-grade student and her mother filed a Maryland personal injury action against the local school board.  The plaintiffs alleged negligence for injuries the student received when a classmate threw a chair.

The incident occurred in the plaintiff’s classroom at her elementary school.  Two of the students began arguing over a pencil.  The teacher separated them by taking one outside of the classroom.  When the other student then started throwing desks and chairs, the teacher instructed everyone else to exit the room.  The plaintiff was the last to leave, and as she rushed to get to the door, the student threw a chair that struck the plaintiff in the neck.  The plaintiff was sent to the school nurse and then an urgent care facility.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit against the school alleged negligence by the teacher in failing to provide adequate supervision when she removed the student from the classroom.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the school, finding that the plaintiff’s injury resulted from the unforeseen acts of another student and could not have been reasonably anticipated by the teacher.  An appeal followed. 

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Maryland personal injury accidents that occur on public or government property may require additional considerations.  Often, legal actions brought against a local municipality arise issues relating to governmental immunity, as in a May 25, 2021 case.  The question before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether or not the trial court properly granted summary judgment for a local county on grounds of governmental immunity.

The plaintiff in the case bicycled regularly on roads and trails in Maryland.  One sunny day, he took a break from work to ride his bicycle on a 13-mile trail along a river.  The trail is open to the public and free to use for educational and recreational purposes, but was not intended to be a transportation corridor.  While riding on the trail, the plaintiff crashed his bicycle and was thrown to the ground.

The plaintiff sued the County for his injuries, alleging that it failed to maintain one of the bridges on the trail.  Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he lost control of his bicycle after hitting a short steel sleeve that was too high above the ground.  The steel sleeve previously held a bollard that blocked entry to the bridge, and although the bollard had since been removed, the sleeve remained in the ground.  The County filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that it was shielded from liability by statutory and common law immunity.  When the lower court granted the motion, the plaintiff appealed the issue.

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