Articles Posted in Personal Injury

If an insurance company refuses to cover your injuries after a Maryland car accident case, you may have to take legal action.  In some situations, you may be able to recover your attorney’s fees and court costs in bringing the lawsuit.  In an April 16, 2019 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an auto insurance company should have been ordered to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs after she successfully obtained a settlement.

The plaintiff in the case was injured in a motor vehicle collision in Maryland.  The driver who caused the accident was in a rental car at the time.  He was insured by the defendant insurance company under a policy issued to him in West Virginia, which provided liability coverage up to $20,000.  Following the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against the driver.  The defendant offered to settle the suit for the coverage limits of the driver’s policy.  The plaintiff refused the settlement offer, asserting that because the accident occurred in Maryland, the other driver should have been covered for up to $30,000 for bodily injury liability.

The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment from the court to establish that $30,000 of liability coverage was available to her under the other driver’s insurance policy.  The defendant ultimately offered her $30,000 to settle the case, which she accepted.  The plaintiff then filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs based upon the declaratory judgment action she had pursued against the defendant.  When the court denied the request, the plaintiff appealed.

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Some personal injury actions are complicated due to the involvement of multiple defendants and competing theories of liability.  In an April 3, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, which resulted in a judgment against the two defendants.

The plaintiff in the case was injured in a three-car accident.  The first defendant owned the vehicle that caused a chain reaction collision.  On the night of the accident, the first defendant was socializing at a restaurant bar with a man she had met that night.  Believing that she was too intoxicated to drive, she allowed the man to drive her vehicle because she had not seen him consume any drinks.  During the drive, the man began driving erratically and at an excessive rate of speed.  While being pursued by police, the first defendant’s vehicle struck the median past a traffic intersection and became airborne, traveling over three other cars before crashing into the side of the street.

The plaintiff alleged that, after the first defendant’s vehicle came to a stop, the second defendant’s vehicle suddenly accelerated through the intersection, hit the median, and struck the front driver’s side of her vehicle.  Throughout the case, the second defendant maintained that he was rendered unconscious as a result of being hit by the first defendant’s vehicle, and that his incapacitation led him to strike the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The plaintiff testified that she could not determine whether the second defendant was unconscious as his vehicle approached hers, nor could she recall how much time had passed after the first defendant crashed and when the second defendant’s vehicle struck her car.

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Accidents involving power tools or other dangerous equipment may result in serious and life-altering injuries.  In a February 19, 2019 case, the plaintiff brought a Maryland negligence claim against the defendant after suffering an injury that ended his career as a surgeon.  Following an eight-day trial, the jury found that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

The plaintiff and defendant were both orthopedic surgeons at the same hospital.  The accident occurred during a bilateral knee replacement surgery, in which the plaintiff was operating on the patient’s left knee, while the defendant simultaneously operated on the patient’s right knee.  During the procedure, a surgical technician handed the defendant a loaded pin driver in order to place a pin into the patient’s bone.  As the defendant brought the pin driver forward, it made contact with the plaintiff’s left elbow.

Shortly after the incident, the plaintiff felt weakness and a loss of sensation in his left arm and hand along with poor coordination and restricted movement.  Thereafter, the plaintiff learned that his nerve was permanently damaged and could not be repaired with surgery.  The hospital considered the plaintiff disabled and terminated his contract.

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Personal injuries may arise out of many diverse situations, including the workplace.  In some cases, if someone caused an injury while on the job, their employer may be held liable for negligent hiring and supervision.  In a February 21, 2019 case, three students brought a Maryland negligence claim against the school board based on the conduct of one of its employees.  The students’ claims against the school board were dismissed by the circuit court, but they ultimately prevailed on their claims against the employee.

The case arose out of an incident between the students and a school police officer.  The students alleged that, for no apparent reason, the officer had physically assaulted them with her hands, pepper spray, and her baton.  The officer later pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree assault.  The students filed lawsuits against the officer for assault and against the school board for negligent hiring, retention, supervision, and credentialing.

The circuit court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims against the school board with prejudice, following a summary judgment motion.  The matter proceeded to trial on their claims against the officer.  The jury ultimately found that the officer had violated the constitutional rights of the students and awarded them damages totaling $280,000.  The plaintiffs subsequently asked the school board to satisfy the judgments.  When the school board refused, the students filed a motion with the circuit court, arguing that the board must indemnify the officer because the acts were committed within the scope of her employment.  The court granted the motion, and the school board appealed.

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Under Maryland premises liability law, a landlord may be held responsible if its negligence caused a personal injury to a tenant.  In a March 1, 2019 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland negligence claim against his landlord after he was assaulted on the premises.  A lower court held that under the circumstances alleged by the plaintiff, the defendant did not have a duty to protect the plaintiff from criminal activity.  The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in the case paid the defendant a monthly free to park his ice cream truck on its premises.  After parking his truck one night, the plaintiff was robbed and shot multiple times by two armed assailants.  The plaintiff argued that, due to a prior robbery that had occurred in the parking lot several years ago, the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to protect him from the foreseeable risk of harm of the robbery.

In Maryland, a negligence claim requires four elements:  (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the plaintiff suffered an injury, and (4) the injury was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.

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In some Maryland personal injury cases, the plaintiffs may have multiple, alternative theories of negligence that could establish the defendant’s liability.  The case cannot be dismissed before trial unless the defendant shows that the plaintiffs could not prevail on any of their theories.  In a February 26, 2019 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the plaintiffs argued that their alternative theory of negligence had not been addressed by the circuit court when it dismissed their case against the defendants.

The plaintiffs in the case had attended a celebration held by the Baltimore Ravens and the City of Baltimore for their Super Bowl victory in 2013.  A victory parade was planned from City Hall to the stadium, where fans were invited to a free event following the parade.  On the day of the event, the stadium had reached capacity before the parade even started.  The stadium gates were ordered closed by the fire marshal, but remained unlocked in case of an emergency.  The plaintiffs were standing outside the stadium when someone announced that the gate near them was open.  A crowd then surged toward the gate, knocking over and trampling the plaintiffs, injuring them both.

The plaintiffs filed a negligence action against the Ravens, the stadium owners, and the crowd-control contractor.  The plaintiffs asserted two alternative theories of negligence.  One, that the defendants failed to anticipate the reasonably foreseeable, large crowd they had invited to the stadium, and then failed to take reasonable safety precautions to control the crowd, which created a hazardous condition.  Second, after the unprecedented public crowd had arrived, the defendants failed to warn of the danger, or to make a reasonable effort to eliminate the danger.  The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the defendants did not have notice of any dangerous conditions at the stadium.

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In many situations, the victims of negligence may recover their damages by filing a Maryland legal claim against those responsible.  One of the few exceptions concerns governmental immunity.  In a February 22, 2019 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals examined whether a local county could be sued under the circumstances presented in a Maryland wrongful death case.

In the summer of 2016, a 911 call center experienced a service outage in the county that lasted approximately one hour and forty-five minutes.  During the outage, the decedent suffered a medical emergency.  The plaintiffs alleged that they and other friends and family had called 911 repeatedly, for over an hour, but were unable to get through.  Eventually they were connected with emergency services and rescue personal subsequently responded to the scene.  Tragically, the decedent could not be revived, and he passed away.

In their suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the county was negligent in maintaining the air conditioning unit that had failed and caused the 911 service outage, which in turn, allegedly caused the decedent’s death.  The circuit court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, ruling that the county was immune from suit and that the county officials, named as individual defendants, did not owe a duty to the plaintiffs or the decedent.  The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the higher court.

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In some Maryland personal injury cases, a business employer may be responsible for injuries caused by the carelessness of their employees.  When an independent contractor or state or government entity is involved, however, there may be specific legal concepts to consider.  In a January 23, 2019 Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff appealed after the circuit court dismissed his claims against a local sanitary commission for the negligence of an independent subcontractor.

The plaintiff in the case was injured in an accident that occurred when his vehicle hit a manhole that was only partially covered.  The plaintiff sued to recover damages from the local sanitary commission, which was responsible for the manhole cover.  The commission argued that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the negligence of a subcontractor of an independent contractor that it hired.  The commission claimed it had no control over the subcontractor and, therefore, could not be vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

In Maryland, the general rule is that the employer of an independent contractor is not liable for the negligence of the contractor or his employees.  However, there are a number of exceptions to the general rule that would extend liability to those who hire independent contractors.  These exceptions include the employer’s negligence in selecting or supervising the contractor, non-delegable duties of the employer to the public or a particular plaintiff, and work that is inherently dangerous.

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Holding a local government or municipality liable for negligence may be difficult in some cases.  A Maryland injury attorney can assist plaintiffs by presenting the evidence persuasively to a judge or jury.  In a December 19, 2018 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland injury claim against the city counsel, local government, and an excavation company following an accident involving a water meter.  The case was brought before the Court of Special Appeals after the trial court granted summary judgment against the plaintiff.

The plaintiff in the case alleged that she was injured when a water meter cover opened and she stepped into the hole.  The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they had no notice of the allegedly defective water meter lid, nor did they have any duty to inspect in the absence of notice.  The plaintiff contended that the defendants had notice because the excavation company was working in the area to repair water leaks.  She also provided a letter from the city informing the company of the plaintiff’s suit.  The letter contained a handwritten note to “take notice lid is broke” with a date.

In a Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that:  (1) the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the plaintiff suffered injury or loss, and (4) the injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty.

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The procedural requirements of a Maryland medical malpractice action are an important part of pursuing a lawsuit after negligent health care.  In some cases, failing to meet the filing deadlines can have an adverse outcome, including dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims.  In a January 18, 2019 appeal, the court was asked to determine whether the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims were banned by the statute of limitations.

The plaintiff in the case had suffered a leg injury in a jet ski accident and was transferred to the defendant’s hospital for surgery in July of 2010.  Following the surgery, the plaintiff was tested for staph bacteria, and the results came back negative.  A few days later, evidence of a staph infection appeared.  The plaintiff was then discharged to an acute rehabilitation center in Virginia.  After a week at the rehabilitation center, the plaintiff was transferred back to the defendant’s hospital due to the worsening infection.  Over the next few years, the plaintiff was treated multiple times for staph infections and ultimately, underwent a total knee replacement in 2013.

In June of 2013, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, and the case was transferred to the U.S. District Court.  The plaintiff had a certificate of qualified expert from a doctor who was prepared to testify that the defendants deviated from the standard of care.  However, finding that the doctor was not qualified to testify as to one of the issues, the court dismissed the claim.

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