Maryland Court Considers Plaintiff’s Appeal in Negligence Claim Against Transportation Company

The law holds people and businesses responsible for injuries caused by their negligent conduct.  In a July 19, 2017 case, the Court of Special Appeals considered a Maryland injury claim brought on appeal by a plaintiff against a bus transportation business.  The plaintiff filed the appeal after a jury found in favor of the defendant.

The victim in the case was a double amputee who required the use of a wheelchair for mobility.   The victim had hired the defendant’s bus transportation company to transport him to his home.  As the driver attempted to load the victim into the transport bus, his wheelchair rolled backwards and fell off the bus’ lift.  The fall sent the victim crashing to the ground and broke his neck.  The victim spent the next few months in the hospital before passing away from his injuries.  The victim’s estate filed suit against the driver and the bus transportation company, alleging negligence.  After a trial, the jury found that the victim’s injuries were not results of the driver’s negligence.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred by striking the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert.  In Maryland, before allowing expert testimony, a trial court must make the following determinations:  (1) whether the witness is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, (2) whether the expert testimony is appropriate on the particular subject, and (3) whether a sufficient factual basis exists to support the expert testimony.  With respect to the third element, an expert’s opinion testimony must be based on an adequate factual basis so that it does not amount to conjecture, speculation, or incompetent evidence.  They cannot simply hazard guesses, however educated, based on their credentials.

In reviewing the case, the appeals court concluded that the plaintiff’s expert was qualified as an expert but lacked a sufficient factual basis for his opinions.  The court pointed to the fact that the expert could not cite to any statute, rule, study, or example to support his conclusions, particularly his conclusion that a driver should stop an intoxicated passenger from traveling or take additional measures.  Accordingly, the court found no error in striking the expert’s testimony.

The plaintiff next argued that the trial court erred by barring the plaintiff from introducing evidence that the bus transportation company was independently negligent for not having guidelines in place for dealing with intoxicated passengers.  The appeals court observed, however, that the plaintiff’s complaint only alleged liability for the bus transportation company under the doctrine of respondeat superior, and it did not include any facts, arguments, or basis for a claim that the defendant was independently negligent.  Finding that the defendant had no notice of the direct negligence claim, the appeals court affirmed the ruling of the trial court.

The Maryland accident attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. can assist victims who have been hurt by the careless actions of other individuals and businesses.  We handle negligence claims arising out of medical malpractice, premises liability, car accidents, and many other injuries.  Schedule an appointment to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer by calling Foran & Foran at (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Decides Appeal Involving Pedestrian Fall on Icy, Broken Sidewalk, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published July 24, 2017

Maryland Plaintiff Wins on Appeal in Slip and Fall Case Against Convenience Store, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 5, 2016

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