Maryland Court Explains the Abuse of Discretion Standard in a Car Accident Case

Parties in civil lawsuits will usually ask jurors to weigh the evidence presented and determine issues such as liability and damages. Generally, the courts regulate what evidence the parties can submit to the jury. If a court rules improvidently with regard to what evidence is relevant or appropriate, it may harm a party’s case. Merely because a party does not concur with a judge’s reasoning with regard to evidence does not mean that a verdict should be overturned, though, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland ruling issued in a car accident case. If you were injured in a collision, it is in your best interest to talk to a Maryland auto accident lawyer to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries in a collision that occurred when the defendant struck the rear of her car. She filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a negligence claim. The defendant admitted liability, and the case proceeded to trial on the issue of damages. The defendant was not present during the trial; twice during the trial, his attorney stated that he was absent because he had cancer and his health did not allow him to be there. The plaintiff’s attorney objected to the statement that the defendant had terminal cancer, and the court sustained the objection.

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s counsel did not seek a curative instruction or ask for any other relief. The jury ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff but did not award her damages for future medical expenses or lost wages. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion with regard to how it handled the statements about the defendant’s cancer.

Demonstrating an Abuse of Discretion

The court declined to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning and denied her appeal. Under Maryland law, trial judges have broad discretion in how they conduct trials, including decisions about the admissibility of evidence and management of proceedings. As such, their decisions will only be reversed if it is clear that a serious abuse of discretion or error has occurred.

The court explained that this is a high threshold, and an abuse of discretion will only be found in cases where no reasonable person would adopt the trial court’s view or when the court acts without referring to any guiding principles. Further, an abuse of discretion should only be found in the most egregious, exceptional, or extraordinary case. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion with regard to statements about the defendant’s cancer or that said statements were prejudicial. Thus, it affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Talk to a Trusted Maryland Attorney

Car accidents can cause significant trauma, and people that recklessly cause collisions should be held accountable. If you were injured in a crash caused by another party, it is smart to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Maryland auto accident lawyers of Foran & Foran, P.A. can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the full amount of damages recoverable under the law. Our office is in Greenbelt, and we frequently represent people in personal injury lawsuits in cities in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at (301) 441-2022 to set up a confidential and free meeting.


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