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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Many Maryland residents rely on public transportation and expect that they will be able to access such conveyances without suffering harm. Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for passengers on public transportation to encounter dangerous conditions that ultimately cause them to suffer injuries. Whether a transit authority will be held liable for harm sustained in an accident on one of its vehicles depends, in part, on whether it had notice of the allegedly harmful condition, as explained in a recent Maryland opinion. If you were hurt while riding public transportation, it is advisable to speak to a Maryland personal injury lawyer to evaluate your possible causes of action.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries while riding a bus owned and operated by the defendant transit authority. Specifically, she tripped over the frame of the wheelchair ramp while entering the bus and stumbled. She subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for her harm. Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment arguing, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to establish the defendant had notice of the allegedly dangerous condition as required to recover damages under Maryland law.

Notice of Dangerous Conditions

In Maryland, in order to recover damages for negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate a duty, a breach of the duty, proximate cause, and damages. Further, a property owner’s liability to a person injured on their property depends on the individual’s status; for example, property owners have a duty to protect invitees from injuries caused by unreasonable risks that the invitees are unlikely to uncover. Continue Reading ›

Warehouse stores generally offer shoppers a variety of goods at low prices, and many Maryland residents shop in such stores on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for certain areas of stores to fall into disarray, creating hazards that can lead to falls. While stores can be held accountable for harm suffered by their customers in certain situations, they generally will not be deemed liable unless they knew or should have known of a dangerous condition before the harmful incident. This was illustrated in a recent Maryland ruling in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claim against a warehouse store because the plaintiff failed to prove notice. If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident, you may be owed damages, and you should speak to a Maryland premises liability lawyer about your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is alleged that the plaintiff was shopping at a warehouse store owned by the defendant with her husband when she slipped and fell while walking between two circular racks of clothing. The store manager arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and saw an empty hanger lying on the floor and several hangers on the floor under the rack. The plaintiff did not see the hanger before her fall.

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that its negligence led to her harm. After discovery was complete, the defendant moved for summary judgment. The court found that the plaintiff failed to establish notice as required under Maryland law and ruled in favor of the defendant. Continue Reading ›

A Maryland personal injury action is initiated when the plaintiff files a pleading, commonly referred to as the complaint, with the courts.  If the complaint does not conform to the Maryland Rules, it may be dismissed, as in an October 20, 2021 case before the Court of Special Appeals.  The plaintiff brought the appeal after the circuit court dismissed his complaint and denied his motion to file an amended complaint.

The plaintiff in the case was injured while performing his job as a construction worker.  As he was using a bore for the installation of a gas pipeline, the tool caught on his foot.  His foot slipped and went inside the machine, resulting in severe injuries to his foot and a partial amputation.  The plaintiff filed a negligence action against multiple companies and contractors present on the job site, as well as the owner of the property, and sought damages exceeding two million dollars.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the complaint did not comply with the Maryland Rules.  In particular, the defendants argued that the complaint failed to characterize the damages sought as being in excess of $75,000, asserted the same legal conclusions against all of the defendants, and failed to allege any facts establishing the liability of a specific defendant.  The plaintiff opposed the motion and sought to amend the complaint, which the circuit court denied.  The ruling effectively barred the plaintiff’s suit, as any re-filed action would be subject to a statue of limitations defense. 

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Determining the appropriate circuit court in which to file a Maryland personal injury action depends on several factors.  In certain situations, the plaintiff’s initial choice of venue may be transferred to another court at the request of a defendant.  In a September 23, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether a circuit court had properly granted the defendant’s motion for a change of venue.

The plaintiff in the case alleged that he suffered injuries as a result of a forklift accident at the defendant’s warehouse, which was located in Howard County.  The accident occurred as the plaintiff was moving boxes onto a loading dock.  At the same time, an employee of the defendant was operating a forklift to transport trash from the loading dock.  The plaintiff claimed that the employee struck and rolled over the plaintiff with the forklift, causing bodily injuries.

The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the employee operating the forklift and the defendant in the circuit court for Prince George’s County.  The defendant subsequently moved to transfer venue to Howard County, arguing that its principal place of business is in Howard County, the accident occurred in Howard County, and at least some witnesses would be from Howard County.  When the court granted the motion, the plaintiff appealed. 

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Pedestrian injuries may arise from defective or crumbling sidewalks, construction debris, and improperly maintained infrastructure, such as water meters.  In an October 20, 2021 case, the plaintiff was injured as a result of a loose water meter cover.  When she stepped on the water meter, the lid moved, causing her leg to fall into the hole beneath.  The plaintiff was taken to the hospital by her family, where she was treated for her injuries.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability suit against Baltimore City, alleging that it was liable for injuries caused by the dangerous condition of the water meter cover.  The jury ultimately found that the City was liable, and awarded damages to the plaintiff.  The City subsequently appealed, and the case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

Under Maryland law, before a government municipality can be liable for a dangerous condition, it must have had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition prior to the plaintiff’s injury.  A municipality has actual notice when its employees either personally observed the dangerous condition, or were informed of the dangerous condition.  Constructive notice occurs when the dangerous condition has existed for so long that the municipality should have learned of it by exercising due care.

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When bringing a legal action in Maryland, it is important that the initial filing, known as the Complaint, contain all of the allegations that are relevant and essential to the claims asserted.  In a May 4, 2021 personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether a trial court properly excluded testimony of material facts that were not specifically alleged in the Complaint.  The plaintiff had brought the action against two police officers, alleging claims for battery, negligence, and punitive damages, among others.

The plaintiff in the case had been involved in a motor vehicle accident and was waiting at a nearby gas station with the other driver as law enforcement arrived.  One of the responding officers, allegedly smelling marijuana and alcohol, conducted a search of the plaintiff.  Although details of the ensuing altercation between the officer and the plaintiff were disputed, it ultimately resulted in the plaintiff being tasered, arrested, and charged with several crimes, which were later dropped by the state attorney.

In a deposition before trial, the plaintiff stated that he was kicked and punched, in addition to being tasered.  When the plaintiff testified as to the same allegations at trial, the defense objected.  The trial court granted the objection, finding that the testimony was irrelevant insofar as such acts were not alleged in the Complaint.  After the jury found for the defendants, the plaintiff appealed.

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In Maryland, medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to the statute of limitations, which provides the deadline by which an action must be filed, or it may be dismissed as untimely. There are some exceptions to the general rule, however, as explained by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland in an August 6, 2021 opinion.

The plaintiff in the case had his wisdom teeth removed on May 29, 2015.  The following morning, the plaintiff realized that he had no sensation in his tongue.  The plaintiff immediately contacted the dental center to address the issue and scheduled an appointment with the doctor who had performed the surgery.  The plaintiff alleged that, at the June 11 appointment, the doctor told him that it could take up to one year for his tongue to regain full sensation, but that, with time and the use of pain medication, his tongue would get better.

After consulting with an attorney, on July 17, 2018, the plaintiff filed a claim against the doctor and the dental center, asserting that the doctor had severed the plaintiff’s lingual nerve during the extraction of his wisdom teeth.  The circuit court, finding that the injury accrued on June 11, 2015, dismissed the action as barred by the statute of limitations.

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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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