Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Developing an appropriate trial strategy in a Maryland medical malpractice case takes legal knowledge and experience.  It may also have a significant impact on the outcome of the case.  A December 31, 2018 medical malpractice case illustrates the importance of following court orders and procedures during a trial.

In the case, the plaintiff’s actions during trial prompted the judge to admonish her while the jury was seated in the courtroom.  The plaintiff’s counsel requested a mistrial, arguing that the exchange had unfairly influenced the jury against the plaintiff.  The trial court denied the motion, and the issue was appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in the case was the estate of a patient who had died while receiving medical care at the defendant’s hospital.  The personal representative of the estate, who was the daughter of the patient, filed the action alleging that the defendant was negligent in providing medical treatment to her mother.  Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to prevent admission of photographs of the patient’s skin wounds to the jury.  The judge granted the motion, finding that the photographs could not be authenticated.

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If the careless acts of another person or business have caused you or your child to suffer a physical injury, you may be able to hold them responsible.  In a negligence lawsuit involving an injured child, an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer can advise parents as to the proper legal action to take.  In a December 7, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed suit against her landlords for injuries that occurred after her rental home became inhabitable due to mold infestation.  The case was brought before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in the case resided with her young son in a home she rented from the defendants.  She alleged that a few weeks after moving into the home, water began collecting and flooding into the kitchen and den.  Despite her repeated complaints to the defendants, the problem was not resolved and the flooding persisted.  Thereafter, her son began experiencing medical issues, including difficulties breathing, asthma-like symptoms, swelling, and rashes covering his body.  A medical diagnosis revealed that he was allergic to a variety of toxic molds.  Subsequent testing of the house confirmed the presence of extremely high levels of mold.  Fortunately, the son’s conditions improved after they vacated the property.

The parties then pursued breach of lease and eviction proceedings against each other in district court.  After the parties stated that they had reached an agreement to settle the matter, the district court dismissed the action.  Specifically, the understanding was that the plaintiff would not pursue any further claims arising out of the tenancy in exchange for half of the rent escrow funds.  Although the money was disbursed, the parties did not sign a written agreement.

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Negligent drivers may be held liable for property damage, medical expenses, and other losses that they cause to others.  In some Maryland personal injury cases, proving the extent of the injuries caused by the accident and the amount of damages is complicated.  In a December 18, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed a negligence suit after he was injured in a car accident caused by the defendant.  The matter came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland on the issues of damages and causation.

In the case, the defendant caused a multi-car accident when she failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The impact pushed the plaintiff’s vehicle off the road into a tree. The parties stipulated to the fact that the defendant was at fault for the accident.  However, the plaintiff still had to establish that the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries.  The case was tried before a jury, which found the defendant negligent and awarded damages to the plaintiff in the amount of $20,000.  The plaintiff appealed, as the jury award was less than the amount of damages he sought.  The plaintiff argued that the trial court improperly ruled on evidentiary issues that affected his proof.

The plaintiff had designated an orthopedic surgeon to testify as an expert witness at trial. The expert had been suspended from practicing for a period of three years by both the Maryland State Board of Physicians and the American Association for Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). During the pre-trial motions, the plaintiff asked the court to exclude the parts of the expert’s deposition where he was questioned regarding his suspension.  The plaintiff contended that that the line of questioning violated the medical review committee privilege.  The trial court agreed to redact some of the deposition, but allowed a question about whether he had been suspended from the AAOS.

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In some cases, personal injuries arise out of the negligent actions of another person or entity.  Victims generally have legal recourse against those responsible for their injuries, unless the law provides for immunity or another exception.  In a November 28, 2018 Maryland wrongful death case, the plaintiff sued a police officer and police chief, alleging that they negligently caused the death of her daughter.  The defendants argued that they were entitled to immunity and could not be sued for damages.  After the circuit court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

In the case, the victim had called 911 and the police officer was dispatched to her apartment building.  The officer attempted to enter the building, but found that the door was locked.  He left without making contact with the victim.  At some point, the victim went to the roof of her apartment building and either jumped, fell, or was pushed off.  She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The plaintiff alleged that the police were negligent in failing to investigate the 911 call and failing to enter the building and make contact with the victim.  The plaintiff also contended that the police did not provide adequate training or supervision for officers responding to 911 calls.  The issues on appeal centered on the public duty doctrine and public official immunity.

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To succeed in a Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had an obligation, or duty, to act in a certain manner according to the law.  Generally, most people, businesses, and other entities have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to another.  In a December 3, 2018 Maryland wrongful death case, however, the issue of duty was more complicated.

The defendants in the case were Maryland police officers who had responded to a report of domestic assault involving the plaintiffs’ mother and her fiancé.  The officers were outside of the house with the mother when her fiancé began firing gunshots at them from the upstairs window.  The plaintiffs’ mother died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

The plaintiffs brought a civil suit against the officers, seeking to hold them liable for their roles leading to the murder of the plaintiffs’ mother by her fiancé.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs for $850,000, finding that the officers were negligent in failing to prevent their mother’s death.  The defendants appealed, and the matter came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

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A Maryland car accident victim may take legal action against a negligent driver to recover their medical expenses and other losses.  To succeed, the plaintiff must present sufficient evidence to establish each element of a Maryland personal injury claim.  In a November 15, 2018 car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether the circuit court erred by not allowing the plaintiff’s expert witness to testify.  The issue was crucial, as the lack of a causation expert subsequently led the circuit court to dismiss the plaintiff’s negligence claims against the defendants.

The case arose out of a rear-end motor vehicle collision.  One of the defendants was driving an automobile that struck the rear of the plaintiff’s car, causing the plaintiff to hit her head on the steering wheel.  A few days later, the plaintiff began to feel dizzy and nauseous. She went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with a concussion.  The plaintiff sought treatment from three other doctors, all of whom diagnosed her with a concussion, for fifteen months following the accident.  The plaintiff also received psychiatric counseling to treat the anxiety, irritability, and cognitive difficulties that she reported after the accident.

Three years after the car accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended her car, the owner of the driver’s vehicle, and her insurance company.  The plaintiff designated her doctor as an expert witness well before the deadline provided by the court.  However, two days before trial, the plaintiff provided to the defendants a report from her doctor based on a medical exam that had taken place a month before.  The defendants objected, arguing that there was no time to depose the doctor regarding her report before the trial date.  The court agreed and excluded the testimony without continuing the trial to a later date.  The defendants then moved for summary judgment reasoning that, without expert testimony, the plaintiff did not have any evidence that her injuries were caused by the accident.  The trial court granted the motion.

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In some cases, determining which defendants may be held liable for injuries in a Maryland negligence claim is an issue for the courts.  In a November 9, 2018 case, the plaintiff alleged that he contracted lead paint poisoning while living at a property between 1995 and 1996.  The owner of the property had passed away in 1993, and the property was run by the personal representatives of his estate until 1997.  The plaintiff, therefore, sued the personal representatives for his injuries.  Eventually, the plaintiff abandoned his claims against all but one of the defendants.  When the circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of the remaining personal representative, the plaintiff appealed.

The plaintiff had filed claims based on negligence and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), alleging that the defendant, while serving as co-personal representative of the property, had owned, controlled, or managed the property.  On appeal, the issue for the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether the plaintiff could bring suit against the personal representative of the property owner’s estate for lead paint poisoning.

Under the local housing code, property owners and operators have a duty to provide a residence that is free from chipping, flaking, or peeling paint.  In order to be held personally liable for a breach of this duty and any resulting harm, therefore, the defendant must fall under the definition of an owner or operator.

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Unlike general personal injury and negligence cases, Maryland medical malpractice actions are typically subject to the Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (Act), which has a few different procedural requirements.  In an August 2, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the supplemental certificate of a qualified expert, which must be filed within 15 days after the deadline for discovery.  The plaintiff in the case had failed to file a supplemental certificate within the timeframe provided by the Act.  This ultimately led to the dismissal of her medical malpractice claim against the defendants.

The plaintiff had underwent gastrectomy surgery, which was performed by the defendant, a medical physician.  A few weeks after the surgery, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a hernia at the site of the gastrectomy.  During a procedure to repair the plaintiff’s condition, the defendant lacerated her aorta, causing her to lose 50 percent of her blood.  She experienced severe pain and went through several periods of rehabilitation.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice complaint against the doctor and hospital in November of 2015.  Pursuant to a scheduling order issued by the circuit court, discovery ended in January of 2017.  Pursuant to the Act, therefore, the plaintiff was required to submit a supplemental certificate of a qualified expert within 15 days.  When she failed to both file the certificate and ask for an extension, the defendants moved to dismiss her claim.  The plaintiff responded by opposing the motion and moving for a brief extension of time to file the required certificate.  The plaintiff explained that, because her attorney practiced primarily out of state and was unfamiliar with the statutory requirements, she had good cause to receive an extension of time.  The plaintiff also presented her supplemental certificate of an expert.  Nevertheless, finding that the plaintiff did not have good cause for an extension, the circuit court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

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The legal knowledge of a skilled Maryland personal injury attorney is often crucial to present the case persuasively to a jury and object to inadmissible evidence.  In a recent Maryland car accident case, the plaintiff obtained a favorable jury verdict on the issues of her damages.  On appeal, the defendant argued that the plaintiff should not have been permitted to introduce evidence of bias regarding the relationship between the defendant’s expert witness and the defendant’s auto insurance company.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered the issue in an opinion released on October 9, 2018.

The plaintiff in the case was a passenger in the backseat of a vehicle driven by the defendant, which rear-ended another vehicle on the highway.  The plaintiff received medical treatment the day after the accident for injuries to her knee, neck, and back.  The plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against the defendant, alleging that he negligently struck the vehicle in front of him, thereby causing her injuries.

The defendant conceded that he was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, and the case proceeded to trial on the issue of the plaintiff’s damages.  The parties both produced expert witnesses who testified as to the plaintiff’s injuries.  During cross-examination, the plaintiff questioned the defendant’s expert witness about an investment of over one million dollars that he received for his corporation from the defendant’s insurance company.  The defendant’s objection to the line of questioning was overruled by the trial court.  Ultimately, the jury awarded the plaintiff compensatory damages in the amount of $353,000.   The defendant brought the subsequent appeal.

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Injured plaintiffs may hold individuals, businesses, and entities liable for their negligence in a Maryland personal injury suit.  When the defendant is the county, city, or government, however, the issue of governmental immunity may arise.  In a November 1, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether a local County was immune from a negligence claim brought by an injured pedestrian.  The County appealed the issue after the plaintiff won her suit and was awarded over $50,000 for her injuries.

The plaintiff in the case was injured when she stepped on a water meter lid that flipped open, causing her leg to fall into the hole.  The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the County, alleging that her injuries resulted from its negligence with respect to the construction, installation, and maintenance of the water meter lid.  At trial, the plaintiff introduced evidence that the County had ignored the requirements of its own design manual regarding the selection and installation of the water meter lid.  The jury determined that the County was negligent, and found in favor of the plaintiff.  The County subsequently filed an appeal, arguing that it was protected from suit by governmental immunity.

While the state of Maryland has absolute immunity from claims with few exceptions, counties are immune only when performing governmental functions, as opposed to proprietary.  Generally, the government’s obligation to maintain and keep streets, sidewalks, footways, and adjoining areas in a reasonably safe condition has been treated as proprietary, whereas the maintenance of public parks and the like has been treated as a governmental function.  In the instant case, the water meter at issue was located on a grassy strip at the end of a sidewalk, but not on a paved location.

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