Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Childhood lead paint poisoning litigation can be complicated.  In an August 31, 2018 Maryland personal injury action, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the complexities of proving causation in lead paint cases.  The plaintiff in the case had resided in a house owned and managed by the defendants from his birth in 1997 until 2001.  He filed suit against the defendants alleging injuries resulting from lead paint poisoning.  At the conclusion of a five-day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them over 2 million dollars in damages, which was ultimately reduced to approximately 1.5 million dollars.

The defendants appealed the verdict on multiple grounds, one of which was that the trial court erred by not granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s negligence claim.  The defendants argued that, at the time of their motion, there was no evidence that the plaintiff had been exposed to any lead-based paint hazards while residing at the defendants’ property.

In Maryland, when a plaintiff alleges negligence based on a violation of a lead paint statute or ordinance, the plaintiff has the burden to present sufficient facts to demonstrate that there was a violation of a law that was designed to protect a specific class of people that includes the plaintiff, and that the violation proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.  A violation of certain sections of the Baltimore City Housing Code enacted to protect children from lead paint poisoning satisfies the first requirement.

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In Maryland, a person who suffers an injury due to the negligence of another individual, business, or entity may seek compensation for their losses in a personal injury suit.  If the case goes to trial, the jury will usually decide whether the defendant was negligent based on the proof presented.  In an August 28, 2018 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, who was injured during an event hosted by the defendant.  After the plaintiff won her case, the defendants appealed to the higher court.

The defendant in the case was the city board of school commissioners.  The board hosted a retirement party, where the plaintiff was one of several retirees being honored in the cafeteria of a local school.  To provide the retirees with celebratory “red carpet” treatment as their names were called, one of the board’s party organizers placed a red felt aisle runner on the cafeteria floor.  The runner began to bunch up after the first few retirees walked or danced down the aisle, and party organizers attempted to straighten out the runner.  The plaintiff was the seventh person to walk down the aisle.  As she reached the end of the runner, she stopped to take a slight bow.  The plaintiff then stood back up and attempted to continue walking, but fell to the ground.  The plaintiff suffered significant injuries to her hip, which required surgery and a lengthy hospital stay.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging negligence claims against the board and the individual party organizers.  After a three day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff.  The defendant appealed arguing several grounds for reversal, one of which was that the plaintiff did not present sufficient evidence at trial for the case to be submitted to the jury.  Specifically, the defendant contended that the plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that the party volunteer who provided the aisle runner was negligent, including evidence that the volunteer was informed or had knowledge of any trip hazards associated with the aisle runner.

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Coping with a serious medical condition can be difficult and time-consuming.  It may be crucial, however, to seek advice from a Maryland personal injury lawyer if you suspect medical malpractice.  In an August 14, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the plaintiff timely brought a medical malpractice action against a hospital that treated her.  The appeal was filed after the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the hospital.

In 2008, the plaintiff in the case began experiencing symptoms she believed to be caused by a fungal infection found in semi-arid areas of the Southwest.  The plaintiff moved from Arizona to Maryland, where she sought treatment at a local hospital.  Her doctor opined that her symptoms were not due to a fungal infection, but were almost certainly the effects of lung cancer, which he asserted could only be treated with a partial lung lobotomy.

After removing part of her lung in 2009, lab analysts at the hospital determined that the plaintiff did not, in fact, have lung cancer.  Instead, the fungal infection suspected by the plaintiff was the cause of the symptoms she experienced and the lesion on her lungs.  Over four years later, the plaintiff filed a medical negligence claim against the hospital and lab.  The circuit court, however, found that the plaintiff failed to file her medical malpractice claim within three years of the statutory deadline.

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An individual who has suffered an injury caused by negligence may have legal recourse against the liable party, as illustrated in an August 17, 2018 case.  The plaintiff in the case was inside a retail store when a motorist lost control of his car and crashed through the fire doors of the building.  The plaintiff suffered serious injuries in the accident, which resulted in the amputation of his leg.  Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed a Maryland negligence claim against the corporate owner of the nationwide store chain, arguing that it failed to take reasonable steps to protect customers against the foreseeable risk of vehicle-building crashes.  After trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded approximately 6.5 million in damages.

The defendant appealed to the Court of Special Appeals on several grounds, one of which was that the plaintiffs asserted facts that were not in evidence while cross-examining the defendant’s witnesses.  During discovery, the plaintiffs had obtained information from the defendant regarding three prior vehicle-into-building crashes that had occurred at the defendant’s other store locations between 2008 and 2013.  The plaintiff questioned the defendant’s corporate representative about those incidents, as well as a dozen other incidents the plaintiff had discovered.

In general, questions that assume facts that are not supported by evidence already admitted are objectionable.  The appeals court explained that the admissibility of the plaintiff’s questions regarding the prior vehicle-into-building crashes depended on whether these incidents had actually occurred.  Without any proof in evidence verifying that the incidents had occurred, the incidents were not relevant to the case, and therefore, were inadmissible.

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It may be necessary to take legal action against an insurance company or negligent driver after a car accident.  A Maryland car accident attorney can assist plaintiffs by properly filing the lawsuit.  An August 8, 2018 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates the importance of understanding these legal procedures.The plaintiffs in the case were injured when their car was rear-ended by another driver.  The police report correctly named the driver but combined the name of the driver’s mother with the name of the driver when identifying the owner of the vehicle.  In fact, the vehicle was co-leased by both the driver and his mother.  The plaintiffs filed negligence actions solely against the mother.  After the statute of limitations had expired, the plaintiffs filed motions to add the driver to the lawsuit.  The circuit court denied the motions, and the plaintiffs appealed.

In Maryland, most civil actions must be filed within three years from the date they accrue.  Failing to file a timely lawsuit, absent a statutory exception, bars the case from proceeding further.  Amendments to the complaint, including the addition of another defendant, are freely allowed if filed within the statute of limitations.  Once the statute of limitations has run, a party is generally barred from adding a new defendant to the complaint.  The “relation back” doctrine, however, permits an amendment adding a misnamed party if the factual situation remains essentially the same after the amendment as it was before, and the party had timely notice of his status as a defendant.

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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.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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.