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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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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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