Maryland Court Reviews Plaintiff’s Proof of Damages in Car Accident Case

Pedestrians who are hit by motor vehicles can suffer serious injuries, often requiring expensive medical care for months or even years into the future.  In a May 9, 2017 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a car accident case involving a plaintiff who was struck by a vehicle.  The plaintiff filed negligence actions against the owner of the vehicle and the driver.  Since the plaintiff alleged the driver was uninsured, the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund/Uninsured Division was allowed to intervene in the action.

After the trial, the court found the driver, as the operator of the vehicle, liable for negligently striking the plaintiff as a pedestrian.  The court granted judgment in favor of the owner of the vehicle at the close of the plaintiff’s case, finding no agency relationship between the owner and the driver.  The circuit court awarded no damages, concluding that the plaintiff’s evidence of lost wages was legally insufficient, and there was no evidence that the plaintiff’s medical bills were fair, reasonable, and necessary.  The plaintiff brought the current appeal.

The plaintiff’s medical records and bills were admitted into evidence pursuant to the streamlined procedures permitted by Md. Code § 10-104.  Under that rule, as long as the health care provider’s opinion was adequately expressed in the written report, it would be considered without any supporting witness testimony from the health care provider.  As a result, plaintiffs may establish causation by submitting the proper records.  However, the appeals court explained that the mere admission of such records could not, by itself, function as proof of causation by a preponderance of the evidence.

Having established that the admission of medical records pursuant to § 10-104 does not necessarily establish causation, the appeals court considered the issue of whether the trial court erred in finding that the plaintiff failed to satisfy her burden of proof as to causation and damages.  The appeals court observed that although several of the plaintiff’s medical records noted that she was struck by a vehicle, none of those records expressly linked the plaintiff’s medical treatment to the accident.  The court found that the question of whether the plaintiff’s medical treatment was reasonably necessary and related to the accident became more significant, since the plaintiff’s subjective complaints had changed from low back pain and left knee pain on June 8, 2013, to other parts of her body as treatment progressed over many months.  The appeals court therefore affirmed the lower court’s judgment, finding that by failing to connect specific medical expenses to the auto accident, the plaintiff failed to establish her damages by a preponderance of the evidence.

If you are considering legal recourse after a car accident, the Maryland lawyers at Foran & Foran, P.A. can provide trusted advice.  Our injury attorneys have represented plaintiffs in a diverse range of negligence cases, including medical malpractice and premises liability claims.  To learn more from one of our dedicated associates, schedule an appointment by calling (301) 441-2022 or submitting our online contact form on the website.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Sides with Plaintiff Regarding Arbitration of Wrongful Death Claims, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 11, 2016

Maryland Court Finds Error in Admission of Past Traffic Offenses in Auto Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published October 10, 2016

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