Articles Posted in Personal Injury

The plaintiff has the burden to prove each element of a negligence claim arising out of lead paint exposure.  In many cases, the plaintiff in a Maryland personal injury case will have an expert testify to assist the jury in understanding the evidence or determining a fact at issue.  In a July 31, 2018 lead paint case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether a medical study cited by an expert provided a sufficient factual basis for his testimony.  The court also addressed whether an expert could offer an opinion on specific causation by relying on medical study data along with an individualized analysis of the plaintiff’s injuries.doctor office

The plaintiff in the case sued the owners of a residential property, alleging that his injuries, including mental and attention deficits, were caused by exposure to deteriorating lead paint at the property.  At trial, the parties agreed that, due to the defendants’ negligence, the plaintiff was exposed to lead paint and that the exposure was the cause of the plaintiff’s elevated blood lead levels.  The remaining questions for the jury were whether the lead exposure caused an injury to the plaintiff and, if so, the amount of damages.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded approximately $1.3 million in damages.  The defendants subsequently filed an appeal, arguing that the plaintiff had not sufficiently proven that his alleged injuries resulted in any damages.  The plaintiff contended that the testimony of his expert witnesses satisfied his burden of proof.

In Maryland, an expert’s opinion must be based on facts that sufficiently indicate the use of reliable principles and methodology, which thus support the expert’s conclusions.  The expert must also have a rational explanation for how the factual data led to the expert’s conclusion. On appeal, the court examined the medical studies used by the plaintiff’s experts.  The first expert used medical studies that examined the relationship between ADHD and lead exposure.  The court found that the studies indicated an association between the two, but not causation.  This was significant, since it led the court to conclude that the expert’s testimony suffered from an analytical gap by overstating the known effects of lead exposure.  Lacking a scientific basis, the expert’s testimony was therefore inadmissible.

Continue reading

In some Maryland negligence cases, it is difficult to determine exactly how the victim’s personal injury occurred.  Legal recourse may nevertheless be possible under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur if the jury could infer that negligence on the part of the defendant was more probable than not responsible for the victim’s injury.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland addressed whether the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied in a June 25, 2018 case involving an escalator injury.photo_61913_20160323-200x300

The plaintiff in the case was using the escalator in a department store in the mall.  She was injured when the escalator stopped suddenly.  The plaintiff brought suit against the companies which owned, operated, and/or maintained the escalator.  However, the lower court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff failed to designate an expert witness on the issue of liability.  The plaintiff appealed, contending that, as she had met her burden to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, expert testimony was unnecessary.

In Maryland, a plaintiff seeking to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur must establish that the accident was one that does not ordinarily occur absent negligence, that the accident was caused by an instrumentality exclusively within the defendant’s control, and the accident was not caused by an act or omission of the plaintiff.  If the plaintiff can prove these elements, then the issue of negligence may be presented to a jury, which may then choose to infer a defendant’s negligence without the aid of any direct evidence.

Continue reading

If you are seeking compensation from the person responsible for your injuries, fair legal proceedings are important.  An experienced Maryland car accident attorney can assert your rights at trial by objecting to the submission of prejudicial evidence.  As demonstrated in a May 18, 2018 car accident case, the admission of certain documents and testimony in a jury trial could have a significant impact on the outcome.Legal News Gavel

The plaintiff in the case was rear-ended by the defendant while she was stopped in traffic.  The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging that she was injured as a result of his negligent driving.  One of the defenses asserted by the defendant was that his brakes failed.  After a three-day trial, a jury found that the defendant was not negligent.  One of the plaintiff’s major arguments on appeal was that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a repair invoice.  The invoice contained notes written by the mechanic about information he obtained from the defendant, as well as statements regarding the repairs made to the defendant’s vehicle.

It was undisputed that the statements contained in the invoice concerning the condition of the defendant’s brakes were hearsay.  Hearsay is generally inadmissible, unless it falls under an exception.  The trial court admitted the invoice under the residual exception.  The residual exception to the hearsay rule provides that a hearsay statement that otherwise does not fall under any other exception may be admitted if it is relatively trustworthy, if it is more probative as to an issue than any other evidence that can reasonably be obtained, if advance notice of the statement is provided, and if doing so will best serve the interests of justice.

Continue reading

Many people who have suffered injuries due to negligence may seek compensation for medical bills and other losses in a Maryland personal injury claim against the responsible parties.  Determining who may be held responsible, however, can be complicated in some situations.  A May 23, 2018 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland shows how the issue may affect a plaintiff’s claim.Legal News Gavel

The plaintiff in the case alleged that she was battered by an unknown, off-duty County police officer while the officer was working as outside security for a nightclub.  The incident occurred after the plaintiff’s sister was escorted out of the club by the bouncers.  Once outside, one of the officers was tasked with removing her from the property.  Her sister punched the officer and ran to attack another patron being escorted out.  The plaintiff yelled at her sister to stop fighting, waving her arms.  At that point, one of the off-duty police officers grabbed the plaintiff’s arm, twisted it behind her back, and pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground.  The plaintiff suffered a broken arm and injuries to her shoulder, hand, and ankle.

The plaintiff filed negligence claims against the nightclub as well as the County, arguing that the officer was acting within his scope of employment with the County when the incident occurred.  The trial court agreed and granted a motion for judgment in favor of the plaintiff.  The issue of damages was submitted to the jury, which awarded the plaintiff approximately $70,000.  The County appealed, arguing that the scope of employment was an issue of fact for the jury to decide.

Continue reading

An accident victim who asserts a Maryland negligence claim against another person or business has the burden of establishing certain legal elements.  A May 10, 2018 decision by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the requirements necessary to survive a summary judgment motion by the defendant in a premises liability case.  The question for the court was whether the evidence was sufficient to prove that the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s injury.Legal News Gavel

The plaintiff in the case was injured at the defendant’s gas station convenience store while buying food and gasoline for her car.  After she had placed a food order from the made-to-order counter, the plaintiff walked toward the exit to proceed with filling her gas tank.  On her way out the door, her foot caught on the rubbed edge of a rug that was upturned, causing her to fall and sustain injuries.  The plaintiff alleged that the employee behind the food counter told her that the rug was up a little bit.  The plaintiff subsequently filed suit against the owner of the convenience store, alleging negligence.

In Maryland premises liability cases, a property owner owes a duty of care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.  An owner is only liable for injuries caused to invitees by a condition on the property if he or she knows of the condition, or would have known by exercising reasonable care, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm, should also expect that the invitees will not discover or realize the danger or will otherwise fail to protect themselves against it, and furthermore fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.  However, the owner is not required to insure the invitee’s safety or constantly patrol the property to discover potential hazards.

Even if a legal concept provides for an unfortunate outcome, an experienced car accident attorney will be prepared to argue persuasively in your favor.  In an April 20, 2018 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether the doctrine of imputed negligence would apply to prevent the injured plaintiff from recovering damages from the defendant.  After the lower court entered judgment in favor of the defendant, Maryland’s highest court had the opportunity to decide whether the application of the doctrine should be overruled in the context of owner-passenger car accident cases.Legal News Gavel

The plaintiff and her husband drove to a restaurant to pick up their carry-out meal.  The plaintiff’s husband was driving the vehicle, which was solely registered in the plaintiff’s name.  The plaintiff was riding in the passenger seat.  The husband parked across two handicapped spots behind the defendant’s truck and went inside the restaurant to get their dinner.  As the plaintiff waited in the car, the defendant backed up his truck out of his parking space into her vehicle.  The plaintiff suffered injuries to her shoulder as a result of the accident.

Under the doctrine of imputed negligence, the owner of a vehicle who allows someone else to drive while remaining inside as a passenger may be held liable for any negligence of the driver.  It is not based on any negligence of the owner-passenger; instead, it is a form of vicarious liability.  Since the plaintiff’s husband was found negligent by parking perpendicular to a handicapped space behind the defendant’s vehicle, his negligence was imputed to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff was therefore barred from recovering damages under the doctrine of contributory negligence.

Continue reading

Maryland law generally allows victims of negligence to pursue compensation from those responsible.  In some cases, however, remedies may be limited or damages capped.  In an April 12, 2018 Maryland wrongful death case, the Court of Appeals considered whether a multi-million dollar jury verdict should be reduced, and which defendants should be responsible for the judgment.Legal News Gavel

The case arose out of the murder of a Maryland state prisoner by another prisoner while they were both in State custody.  The parents of the victim brought suit against the State of Maryland and several of the correctional officers supervising the prisoners.

After a trial, the jury returned a verdict against the State based on its finding that certain correctional officers were negligent, and a verdict against one of the defendants who was found grossly negligent.  In total, the jury awarded approximately $18.5 million in noneconomic damages to the plaintiffs.  However, the trial court reduced the awards due to Maryland’s statutory caps, and it also denied the plaintiffs’ motion to include the State in the judgment against the one defendant found grossly negligent.  These decisions were appealed and became the major issues in the Court of Appeals case.

Continue reading

In Maryland, careless landlords may be liable for the damage caused by their negligence, including some lead-based paint injuries.  In an April 2, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against his landlords for increased blood lead levels and developmental disabilities suffered as results of exposure to lead-based paint while living in the defendants’ apartment building.  After a six-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded damages in the amount of approximately 1.6 million dollars.Legal News Gavel

The defendants then filed a motion for the court to enter a judgment in their favor or, in the alternative, for a new trial, and they also moved to reduce the non-economic damages.  The trial court reduced the non-economic damages to $1,173,000 but denied the defendants’ other motions.  The defendants appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in the case had lived in the defendants’ property from the time he was born in 1997.  His blood was tested eight times for lead between 1998 and 2012, and tests revealed elevated blood levels four times while he was residing at the property.  After the lawsuit was filed, the property was tested for lead-based paint.  An expert report revealed lead paint in the door and window casing of the property.  On appeal, one of the defendants’ arguments was that the evidence was not sufficient to support the verdict.

Continue reading

Certain kinds of injuries may not be discovered for many years.  In many of these cases, Maryland law provides relief to the victims by allowing them to bring a negligence claim once they realize they have been injured.  In a March 28, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland personal injury case against a manufacturing corporation, among others, alleging that he was exposed to asbestos contained in components it manufactured and supplied in 1970.  After his death, his estate was substituted as a party.  The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer, and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed.  The matter was then brought before the Court of Appeals of Maryland.Legal News Gavel

The plaintiff in the case worked as a steamfitter.  In 1970, he worked on steam piping that connected two turbines, which were installed at the same time.  The turbines were insulated with materials containing asbestos.  In 2013, the plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma and filed suit the next year against multiple defendants, including the defendant who was responsible for constructing the turbines.  The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of repose as currently enacted.  The plaintiff responded that his claims arose in 1970, prior to the enactment of the current statute, and as a result, it could not apply retroactively to his claims.

A statute of repose is essentially a deadline cutting off any exceptions that allow plaintiffs to bring suit after the ordinary deadline under the statute of limitations has passed.  The discovery rule is one such exception that allows a plaintiff to bring an action three years from the date he knew or reasonably should have known of the wrong.

Continue reading

The lasting effects of lead exposure can be difficult to manage, and even more so when a child has elevated levels of lead in their system.  If the lead exposure was due to the negligence of another person, such as a property owner or landlord, the victim may be able to recover compensation for their injures in a Maryland personal injury claim.  In a March 14, 2018 lead-based paint case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether the lower court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.  The issue of causation was complicated by the fact that the plaintiff was born with cognitive impairments.Legal News Gavel

While living at a property owned by the defendants, the plaintiff was diagnosed with elevated blood-lead levels.  However, the plaintiff had been born with a certain medical condition, which caused autism-like cognitive impairments.  This complicated the issue, since the cognitive effects of the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition were also the same sort of impairments that can be caused by childhood exposure to lead.  The plaintiff’s mother brought a lawsuit on his behalf against the defendants then, but the claim was dismissed without prejudice.  In an unusual process, the court left open the possibility that the plaintiff could bring the claim again as an adult.  The case at issue was the plaintiff’s second lawsuit against the defendants.

The plaintiff alleged that the additional exposure to lead at the defendants’ property aggravated his medical condition, resulting in a diminished quality of life and cognitive functioning.  He had the support of a medical causation expert, who opined that the lead exposure had aggravated the plaintiff’s existing conditions and reduced his cognition.  Furthermore, the expert stated that the lead exposure substantially contributed to the additional loss of the plaintiff’s cognitive ability, constituting an injury over and above the condition with which the plaintiff was born.  After the lower court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion, the plaintiff appealed.

Continue reading