Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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Under the Maryland Fire and Rescue Company Act, entities that provide emergency services may not be held liable for simple negligence in a civil lawsuit.  However, they may face civil liability if their actions are grossly negligent.  In an October 1, 2018 Maryland wrongful death case, the jury found two paramedics were grossly negligent in responding to the decedent’s emergency.  Despite the jury verdict, the judge entered a judgment in favor of the defendants, concluding that the evidence was insufficient.  The plaintiffs ultimately prevailed on their appeal.

In the case, the decedent had experienced chest pains and called 911.  The defendants were dispatched to the decedent’s home and transported him to the hospital by ambulance.  In the ambulance, the defendants checked the decedent’s initial vital signs and concluded that he was in stable condition.  The defendants alerted hospital staff that the reason for the decedent’s visit was heartburn.  As the decedent was waiting in the emergency room with the defendants, he continued to complain of chest pains and soon became unconscious.  He was immediately treated by hospital staff but, despite life-saving efforts, passed away.  It was later revealed that he had died of a heart attack.

The surviving family members brought suit against the paramedics and the city, alleging gross negligence due to their emergency response.  On appeal, the plaintiffs contended that the trial court erred by entering judgment for the defendants on the basis of insufficient evidence of gross negligence.  The question for the appeals court, therefore, was whether or not the evidence at trial permitted only one inference, which was that the defendants were not grossly negligent.

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Personal injury cases arising out of asbestos exposure have a long history in Maryland, and may involve specific legislation enacted to protect the victims.  In a September 19, 2018 case, the family members of the decedent filed a Maryland wrongful death suit against two companies, alleging that the decedent contracted mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.  The circuit court granted the defendant’s request for summary judgment based on the statute of repose, and the plaintiffs filed an appeal.

The decedent had installed and serviced boilers manufactured by the defendants.  The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent was exposed to the asbestos-containing rope, gaskets, cement, and putty supplied with the boilers.  The defendants, however, testified that they did not manufacture any of the parts that were packaged with the boilers, and moved for summary judgment.  In their response to the defendants’ motion, the plaintiffs failed to address the argument regarding the statute of repose.  When the motion was granted, the plaintiffs asked the court to reconsider and provided additional evidence.  The court denied the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Maryland’s statute of repose grants immunity for all persons who might otherwise be held liable for a defect in an improvement to real property that occurred more than twenty years from the date of the improvement.  There are, however, exclusions where the statute of repose does not apply to bar a cause of action.  The statute does not apply to personal injury and wrongful death actions against a manufacturer or supplier, where the injury or death results from exposure to asbestos dust or fibers emitted prior to or during installation of an asbestos-containing product to an improvement to real property.  In addition, it does not apply to claims for personal injury and wrongful death caused by asbestos or an asbestos-containing product, where the defendant is a manufacturer of a product that contains asbestos.

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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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