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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

School safety is an important issue for many parents.  In Maryland, schools have a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect students from harm.  If a school breaches its duty to a student, the school may be held liable for the resulting injuries.  In a May 7, 2021 case, a third-grade student and her mother filed a Maryland personal injury action against the local school board.  The plaintiffs alleged negligence for injuries the student received when a classmate threw a chair.

The incident occurred in the plaintiff’s classroom at her elementary school.  Two of the students began arguing over a pencil.  The teacher separated them by taking one outside of the classroom.  When the other student then started throwing desks and chairs, the teacher instructed everyone else to exit the room.  The plaintiff was the last to leave, and as she rushed to get to the door, the student threw a chair that struck the plaintiff in the neck.  The plaintiff was sent to the school nurse and then an urgent care facility.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit against the school alleged negligence by the teacher in failing to provide adequate supervision when she removed the student from the classroom.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the school, finding that the plaintiff’s injury resulted from the unforeseen acts of another student and could not have been reasonably anticipated by the teacher.  An appeal followed. 

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Maryland personal injury accidents that occur on public or government property may require additional considerations.  Often, legal actions brought against a local municipality arise issues relating to governmental immunity, as in a May 25, 2021 case.  The question before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether or not the trial court properly granted summary judgment for a local county on grounds of governmental immunity.

The plaintiff in the case bicycled regularly on roads and trails in Maryland.  One sunny day, he took a break from work to ride his bicycle on a 13-mile trail along a river.  The trail is open to the public and free to use for educational and recreational purposes, but was not intended to be a transportation corridor.  While riding on the trail, the plaintiff crashed his bicycle and was thrown to the ground.

The plaintiff sued the County for his injuries, alleging that it failed to maintain one of the bridges on the trail.  Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that he lost control of his bicycle after hitting a short steel sleeve that was too high above the ground.  The steel sleeve previously held a bollard that blocked entry to the bridge, and although the bollard had since been removed, the sleeve remained in the ground.  The County filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that it was shielded from liability by statutory and common law immunity.  When the lower court granted the motion, the plaintiff appealed the issue.

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When several motor vehicles are involved in a Maryland personal injury accident, questions regarding liability and negligence may be more complex than in a typical two-vehicle collision.  An April 21, 2021 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates some of the issues that may arise in a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a multi-vehicle accident.

The case at issue involved the chain-reaction, rear-end collisions of four motor vehicles on a Maryland highway.  The plaintiff in the case was driving when the vehicles in front of him came to a stop.  When the plaintiff applied his breaks to avoid hitting them, a second driver collided into the rear of the plaintiff’s car.  A third driver then rear-ended the second driver, which caused her vehicle to hit the plaintiff’s car again.  The repeated impact caused the plaintiff’s car to strike the fourth vehicle, which was directly in front of his.

The plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the second and third drivers, and the case went to trial.  After denying the defendants’ motions for judgment, the court submitted the case to the jury.  The jury found that the defendants were negligent, and awarded the plaintiff $34,000 for medical expenses, over $10,000 for lost income, and $500,000 in noneconomic damages.

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In some situations, homeowners may be liable for a personal injury that occurs on their property.  The care they must take to avoid liability depends on the status of the injured party.  In a May 3, 2021 case, the plaintiff filed a Maryland negligence suit against her neighbor after falling down the steps of her neighbor’s porch.  The issue before the Court of Special Appeals turned on the legal status of the plaintiff at the time of her injury.

The plaintiff in the case had returned home from work that day and found she was unable to open her front door.  She walked to her neighbor’s house and her neighbor’s grandson, who had answered the door, lent the plaintiff a metal knife.  After successfully unjamming her door, the plaintiff went back to her neighbor’s house later that day to return it.  After handing the knife to her neighbor, the plaintiff turned to leave down the staircase descending from the front porch.  She lost her balance and fell, suffering serious injuries to her leg.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability suit, alleging that her injuries were caused by her neighbor’s negligent maintenance of the premises.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff was a bare licensee and that the defendant had not breached any duty to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff appealed that decision to the higher court.

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The evidence in a Maryland personal injury case, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on the outcome.  In an April 27, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an unavailable, and potentially unrecorded, surveillance video could be used as evidence.  The matter came before the court after the plaintiff had won his personal injury claim against an amusement park at trial.

The plaintiff in the case was visiting the water park area of an amusement park with his two sons.  While shirtless, the plaintiff left the water park area and was approached on two occasions by park security, who informed the plaintiff of the park’s policy prohibiting entry into the amusement park area without a shirt.  After several heated exchanges, an altercation occurred between the security guards and the plaintiff, which lead to the plaintiff’s head hitting the ground.  The plaintiff filed suit against the amusement park for his alleged injuries.

During the closing arguments at trial, the plaintiff’s counsel noted to the jury that the incident had occurred in an area of the park that the defendant had admitted was under surveillance by cameras.  However, no witness testified as to whether any video of the evidence was captured, and if so, whether it had been destroyed or was missing.

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Business entities may be liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition on their property.  In a March 26, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether an unpainted rollover curb constituted an unreasonable risk to a student.  The issue was appealed after the lower court ruled that, as a matter of law, the unpainted curb was not a dangerous condition.

The plaintiff in the case was injured when she tripped on an unpainted rollover curb in the parking lot of a university student center.  A rollover curb consists of a gradual incline from street level up to the sidewalk.  Some of the curbs on the perimeter of the parking lot were painted yellow to delineate fire lanes, areas in which parking was prohibited to allow access for fire trucks and emergency vehicles.  The plaintiff stated that she tripped over an unpainted section of a rollover curb near or adjoining a yellow-painted curb.

The plaintiff brought a negligence action against the university, claiming that it breached its duty to protect against latent, unreasonable risks.  The university moved for summary judgment, arguing that it did not breach its duty of care.  After the circuit court granted summary judgment for the university, the plaintiff appealed.

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Depending on the circumstances of a Maryland personal injury accident, negligence may be alleged against an employer based on a theory of vicarious liability.  In a February 25, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the defendant, a supermarket owner, could be held vicariously liable for injuries allegedly caused by a third-party vendor.  The matter came on appeal after the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her nearly $400,000 in damages.

The plaintiff in the case was injured while shopping at a supermarket owned and operated by the defendant.  The injury occurred in the frozen-foods aisle.  The plaintiff testified that as she turned to put an item in her basket, she was struck in the back, which caused her to fall to the ground.  The plaintiff believed that she was struck by the stock cart of a delivery man whom she had noticed prior to her fall.  The man, who was not an employee but a third-party vendor delivering soda products to the supermarket, denied striking the plaintiff.

The plaintiff alleged that the supermarket was liable as a result of negligence based on alternative theories of premises liability and vicarious liability.  After the close of evidence at trial, the circuit court granted judgment for the defendant on the issue of premises liability.  The remaining issue was submitted to the jury, which found that the defendant was vicariously liable for the negligence of its vendor.

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A person who is injured in an auto accident may be able to recover damages against the negligent driver who caused the collision.  Negligence on the part of the injured driver is not necessarily a bar to recovering damages.  In a February 26, 2021 negligence case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered the effect of the plaintiff’s alleged negligence with respect to a multi-vehicle collision.

The plaintiff in the case was driving on a three-lane boulevard in rush hour traffic when her mini-van overheated and stalled in the right lane.  The road did not have any shoulder onto which she could move the van.  The driver of the car behind the plaintiff’s van attempted to move into the middle lane just as a pick-up truck from the far left lane merged into the same middle lane.  The truck collided with the car, causing the car to be propelled into the plaintiff’s stalled mini-van.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury action against the drivers of the car and the truck, alleging negligence.  The defendants, in turn, claimed that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in causing the accident.  The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the plaintiff had been negligent.  The plaintiff then appealed the decision.

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In some situations, an employer may be liable for a personal injury caused by one of its employees within the scope of their employment.  This type of negligence suit is based on a theory of vicarious liability.  In a March 3, 2021 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a case involving an alleged battery that occurred at a bar.  The plaintiff claimed that the owner of the bar was liable for her injuries, which she alleged were inflicted by one of its employees.  The matter came before the court on an appeal filed by the plaintiff following a jury verdict in favor of the defendant.

The plaintiff in the case was attending a New Year’s Eve party with some friends at a bar operated by the defendant.  She had been a customer of the bar for several years and knew many of the employees.  One of the people she recognized as an employee approached her and grabbed her arm, causing her to fall to the ground.  The plaintiff suffered ankle injuries as a result of the fall.

The plaintiff sued the bar for her injuries, alleging that the person who grabbed her was an employee, agent, or servant of the bar and was acting within the scope and during the course of his employment.  The defendant, however, claimed that it had fired the person identified by the plaintiff approximately seven months before the incident.  After a three-day trial, the jury determined that the person was an employee of the bar on the date in question, but that his actions were not within the scope of his employment.  The jury ultimately found the defendant not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

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In a negligence lawsuit, the testimony of an expert witness may be crucial to provide evidence supporting or refuting the allegations.  A qualified expert may testify as to the standard of care, causation, damages, and/or other elements of the claim.  In a February 2, 2021 Maryland personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether the opinion testimony of an expert was properly allowed by the trial court.  The appeal was brought by the defendant after a jury awarded damages to the plaintiff resulting from his exposure to lead paint.

The plaintiff in the case had resided in a property owned by the defendant from his birth in December of 1991 to March of 1993.  The plaintiff claimed that as a result of his exposure to chipping, lead-based paint at the property, he suffered permanent cognitive deficits.  The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant’s negligence in failing to remove the lead-based paint from the property was a substantial contributing factor in causing his injuries.

At trial, the plaintiff presented testimony from multiple expert witnesses, including an expert in the field of lead-based paint detection, a clinical psychologist, a neurodevelopment pediatrician and a vocational rehabilitation consultant.  The jury ultimately returned a verdict finding that the defendant was negligent and awarded the plaintiff nearly $885,000 in future noneconomic damages and past damages.

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