Articles Posted in Personal Injury

In a typical Maryland car accident case, plaintiffs may recover damages if they establish that the negligence of the other driver caused their injuries.  In collisions involving government or police officer vehicles, however, the issue of immunity may arise, as in a July 22, 2019 case.  The question before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether a police officer could claim partial immunity under a statute that provided immunity for operators of emergency vehicles.

The plaintiff in the case had suffered injuries as a result of a car accident involving a police officer.  The accident occurred as the police officer, responding to a call for an assault in progress, drove towards the location to serve as backup for another officer.  The officer and other witnesses testified that she had activated her vehicle’s emergency lights and siren before approaching an intersection.  As she proceeded through the intersection, the plaintiff’s car collided with the front end of the police officer’s car.  The plaintiff subsequently filed suit to recover damages stemming from the accident.

The police officer claimed immunity under a statute for emergency service responders.  Under the Maryland law, the operator of an emergency vehicle is granted partial immunity when the vehicle is involved in an accident that occurs in the performance of emergency service.  After the trial court concluded that the police officer was entitled to such immunity, the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed.  She then pursued an appeal with the higher court.

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Car accident cases involving pedestrians can result in serious and life-long injuries.  Many injury victims choose to pursue a Maryland personal injury claim to recover for their damages, as the plaintiff did in a July 16, 2019 case.  The case arose out of an automobile accident on a snowy winter day.

The defendant in the case was driving her car slowly through the snow.  As she approached a sharp, downhill turn, however, she lost control of the vehicle and left the roadway.  Her vehicle reportedly hit the plaintiff, who was clearing snow in his neighbor’s driveway.  The plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the collision and filed a negligence suit against the driver for damages.

After a trial, the jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff brought an appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury.  Specifically, the plaintiff argued that the jury should have been instructed to consider a statute under the Maryland Transportation Code providing that the driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian and shall, if necessary, warn any pedestrian by sounding the horn of the vehicle.

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As a general rule, people may be held liable for damages arising from an injury caused by their negligence.  The injured party may pursue a legal action against the negligent party by bringing a Maryland personal injury claim.  In rare cases, however, the defendant may be relieved of their legal responsibility for the plaintiff’s injury, if the plaintiff exposed themselves to the risk of harm.  The issue of assumption of risk was explored in detail in a July 11, 2019 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The plaintiff in the case operated a restaurant inside a business plaza owned by the defendants.  To reach the back door of her restaurant, the plaintiff had to enter through the loading dock behind the building and walk through a common hallway shared by other businesses.  On the day of her injury, the plaintiff was holding a twelve-pack of soda in each hand and had her handbag on her shoulder as she entered the common hallway to reach her restaurant.  She observed sheets on the floor and deliverymen moving mattresses on the right side of the hallway.  Reportedly, the plaintiff proceeded walking on the right side of the hallway when her foot caught on the sheeting and she fell, breaking her knee.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, alleging negligence.  The defendants the moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff assumed the risk of walking over the sheet as a matter of law.  The plaintiff asserted that she had no knowledge that the sheet, although irregular and lumpy, was dangerous or hazardous.  The lower court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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To win a judgment in a Maryland personal injury action, the plaintiff must present proof of actual damages.  A plaintiff cannot recover damages that are speculative, remote, or uncertain.  Damages for lost earning capacity compensate the plaintiff for their reduced ability to earn money in the future, due to the injury caused by the defendant.  Damages due to lost earning capacity can be difficult to establish in some cases, however, because they primarily rely on future probabilities.

In a June 24, 2019 lead-based paint case, the plaintiff succeeded in establishing his damages, including lost earning capacity, due to the defendants’ reported negligence.  Ultimately, the jury awarded him a total of almost two million dollars, which was reduced to the maximum limit of Maryland’s damages cap.

The defendant appealed the judgment, and the case came before the Court of Appeals of Maryland.  On appeal, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff’s experts lacked a sufficient factual basis for their testimony regarding the plaintiff’s lost earning capacity.  The defendant argued that without utilizing a standardized, reliable methodology for analyzing data, the experts’ opinions were too speculative to support the award.

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Selecting the individual members of a jury for trial takes careful consideration in a Maryland personal injury case.  In a June 3, 2019 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland examined whether the trial court erred by declining to ask prospective jury members a question about the effect of recent media coverage.  The appeal arose out of an action filed by the plaintiff against a Baltimore City policy officer.  The plaintiff alleged that he suffered personal injuries as a result of the officer’s excessive use of force.  Following the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $130,000 in damages.

In April of 2015, Freddie Gray’s death sparked widespread protests in Baltimore.  As a result of the civil unrest, a city-wide curfew was in effect.  The plaintiff was out past curfew following the street demonstrations.  The defendant saw the plaintiff run down a street and board a bus.  Believing that the plaintiff had a gun, the defendant stopped the bus.  The defendant removed the plaintiff from the bus.  However, the plaintiff ultimately suffered a broken arm.  The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against the officer.

Counsel for the defendant submitted questions for the court to ask potential jurors during the selection.  The question at issue on appeal was whether anyone had obtained information from newspaper articles or other media sources regarding the Baltimore police department that would cause them to have a negative impression of the defendant. Although the court denied the request, several prospective jurors referenced the medical coverage of the Freddie Gray case.  However, those jurors did not serve on the jury.

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In some cases, a driver who caused a car accident may not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate for the resulting injuries.  An injured person, however, may seek payment from their own insurance company for the remaining damages if they have coverage.  In a June 4, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the plaintiff filed suit against her insurer after it denied her claim for underinsured motorist benefits.  The lower court dismissed her action, and she filed the current appeal.

The plaintiff in the case was involved in a motor vehicle collision in April 2011.  As a result of the accident, she suffered injuries.  The driver who caused the crash was insured under an auto policy that provided liability coverage up to $20,000.  In April 2013, the driver’s insurance company offered the plaintiff the maximum amount available under the policy to settle the claims against the driver.  Days later, the plaintiff’s insurance company agreed to the settlement offer and waived its subrogation rights against the other driver.  In February 2014, the plaintiff executed the settlement agreement and waiver releasing the driver and the driver’s insurance company from liability for the policy limit of $20,000.

In January 2015, the plaintiff sought payment from her insurer to cover the rest of the damages she suffered in the accident.  Although the plaintiff’s insurance policy did include underinsured motorist coverage, her claim was not immediately approved.  The plaintiff filed a legal action against her insurance company in September 2016 to recover the amount of damages in excess of the $20,000 settlement. The circuit court ruled that the plaintiff did not file her action before the deadline provided by the statute of limitations, and it dismissed the case.

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A Maryland personal injury action may be brought for accidental or reckless conduct, or in some cases, intentional acts.  In an April 25, 2019 decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a case alleging claims of civil assault and excessive force by the police.  After a jury found in favor of the plaintiff, the verdict was appealed.

The case arose out of a traffic stop involving a police officer and a driver.  The officer attempted to pull over the driver, but he continued driving for about a mile, making several turns and running a red light before coming to a stop.  A video camera recorded the subsequent events.

The driver got out of his vehicle and started walking towards the police car.  Reportedly, when the officer opened his door, the driver charged at him.  The police officer fired four gun shots at the driver before he was subdued.  The driver was taken to the hospital and treated for injuries.  He died of other causes later that year.  The driver’s wife filed a lawsuit against the police officer on behalf of the estate.  After a trial, the jury returned a verdict against the officer on the estate’s civil assault and excessive force claims.

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A car crash may be the result of multiple factors, including negligence on the part of both drivers.  In a May 3, 2019 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered the issue of the plaintiff’s negligence.  The plaintiff appealed the matter after the trial jury found her partially responsible for the collision, thus barring her recovery.

The accident occurred at an intersection controlled by flashing red and yellow traffic lights.  The plaintiff was traveling on the eastbound road, which was controlled by a flashing yellow light.  The defendant was on the southbound road with the flashing red light.  As the plaintiff approached the intersection, she claimed that the defendant pulled out in front of her between cars that were stopped in the westbound lanes.  The plaintiff could not stop in time and collided into the defendant’s vehicle.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, who asserted that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.  The plaintiff argued that the defendant could not establish that defense because she entered the intersection with the right of way and, as such, was not negligent as a matter of law.

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When multiple parties contribute to a plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff may benefit from the guidance of a Maryland personal injury attorney.  In these types of cases, Maryland law allows the plaintiff to recover the amount of damages that fully compensates the plaintiff for his or her injuries, and no more.  Once that amount has been completely satisfied, the plaintiff cannot pursue compensation from other tortfeasors for the same injuries.

This issue was recently addressed in an April 29, 2019 case decided by the Court of Appeals of Maryland.  The plaintiff in the case brought a medical malpractice action against the hospital that treated her for injuries she suffered in car accident.  After undergoing surgery for injuries caused by the accident, the plaintiff developed an infection.  The antibiotics were given through a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (“PICC line”), which was inserted into her left arm.  During the insertion, however, the PICC line punctured the plaintiff’s brachial artery.  As a result, the plaintiff underwent vascular surgery to repair her brachial artery.

The medical malpractice suit was filed after the plaintiff had settled a prior action against her insurance company and the negligent driver that caused the accident.  As a result of the settlements, the plaintiff received compensation for the injuries she suffered in the accident.  The question for the court was whether the plaintiff was therefore barred by the one satisfaction rule from recovering compensation from the hospital on her medical malpractice claim.

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To succeed on a Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff must establish each elements of the cause of action.  In addition, the plaintiff may have to address the theories of defense offered by the defendant.  In an April 17, 2019 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland examined the issue of contributory negligence in a Maryland personal injury action.  The matter was on appeal after a lower court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims on summary judgment.

The plaintiff in the case was injured when he fell into a pothole.  The injury occurred as the plaintiff was walking to a convenience store at night.  In order to avoid debris blocking the sidewalk from a recent fire, the plaintiff crossed into the street.  As he was walking, his left foot went into a pothole and he fell, injuring his finger.  Due to the severity of the injury, the plaintiff’s finger was amputated.

The plaintiff filed a negligence action against the property owner, alleging that it was negligent in failing to divert people from the area of pavement that created a hazardous condition, and in failing to properly maintain the property or warn pedestrians of the dangerous condition.  The defendant argued that the plaintiff was negligent in failing to keep a look out while walking, and as such, could not succeed on his claim against the defendant.

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