In a civil lawsuit, opposing parties are required to share some information related to their claims and defenses during the discovery process.  If a dispute arises, the parties are expected to resolve the matter between themselves and turn to the court for intervention only as a last resort.  A January 17, 2018 case before the Special Appeals Court demonstrates how these issues may come up in a Maryland medical malpractice claim.hospital

The plaintiff in the case alleged that the defendants were negligent in performing an upper endoscopy procedure that was necessary to treat the decedent’s esophageal cancer.  During the procedure, the decedent’s esophagus was perforated, which the doctor treated with a stent.  Two weeks later, the doctor had to perform a second surgery to repair the perforation.  In the six months following the surgeries, the decedent suffered from a variety of health problems.  She had a preexisting history of chronic pancreatitis that worsened and required surgery on her pancreas.  During her recovery from the pancreatic surgery, the decedent developed complications, including sepsis, and died six days later.

The plaintiff filed suit against the hospital, alleging that the doctor was negligent and breached the standard of care when he perforated the decedent’s esophagus and that this breach started the decline that ultimately caused her death seven months later.  Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff appealed and challenged the trial court’s decision to admit the defendant’s expert witness and certain evidence into trial.  Specifically, he argued that the defendant made an expert witness designation that was not complete and also failed to identify physical exhibits in a timely manner.

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Although the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (HCA) covers most injuries arising out of medical malpractice, some injuries seemingly overlap with ordinary negligence.  In a January 19, 2018 case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland examined whether claims for negligence and other related causes of action alleged a medical injury within the meaning of the HCA.hospital bed

In the case, the plaintiff and her husband sued a nursing care facility for injuries the plaintiff suffered during her stay there.  The plaintiff’s injuries were caused when she fell from her bed, allegedly caused by the defendant’s failure to properly secure her mattress to the bed frame.  A mechanical lift was used to raise the plaintiff from the floor, but the lift released and dropped her again onto the floor instead of returning her to the bed.

The lawsuit was dismissed by the trial court for failure to file with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolute Office (ADR Office) first.  The plaintiffs appealed the decision.  The basic question on appeal was whether the plaintiffs’ claims were medical injuries.  If the claims alleged were found to be medical injuries within the HCA, they were required to file them in the ADR Office as a condition precedent to their court action.  If not, they were free to bring their claims as a non-medical negligence case in the circuit court.

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Disagreements between victims and an insurance company regarding coverage for a car accident are common.  In some instances, legal action is taken to address the dispute.  In a January 8, 2018 case, the plaintiffs brought suit against their insurance company for denying their claim.  After the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the insurance company appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.businessman

The plaintiffs in the case owned two vehicles, which were insured by two different insurance companies.  One car was insured by the defendant with uninsured/underinsured limits of $100,000.  Their van was insured by a different company under a policy with uninsured/underinsured limits of $50,000.

The plaintiffs were driving the van when another car collided with them.  The other driver was determined to be at fault for the accident.  Accordingly, the driver’s insurance company settled with the plaintiffs for the full amount of the driver’s policy limit of $50,000.  The plaintiffs then filed a uninsured/underinsured claim under their policy with the defendant on their other car, seeking coverage in excess of the $50,000 settlement.  The defendant denied the plaintiffs’ claim for uninsured/underinsured coverage, based on the owned-but-otherwise-insured exclusion.

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In many cases, a rear-end car accident is caused by a negligent driver.  In order to recover compensation from the other driver, however, a plaintiff must prove that he also suffered an injury or loss and that his injuries were caused by the driver’s negligence.  In a January 3, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a personal injury claim involving a rear-end accident.  The parties stipulated that the defendant was negligent in causing the accident, but they left the issues of causation and damages for the jury to decide.  After the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff appealed.car

In the case, the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff as he was stopped at a red light at an intersection.  The impact caused the plaintiff’s car to collide with an SUV that was in front of his.  Nevertheless, the plaintiff’s airbags did not deploy, and there was no damage to the vehicles other than a scratch to the plaintiff’s rear bumper.  The parties were able to drive away from the accident scene, and the defendant was uninjured.

The plaintiff dropped off his passenger after the accident and drove himself to the emergency room.  The doctors took an x-ray of his shoulder and said he could return to work in two days.  A week later, the plaintiff sought treatment from his primary care physician, who referred him to another doctor.  The doctor treated the plaintiff over the course of two years, providing rehab and physical therapy services.  The plaintiff was able to continue playing sports throughout the time.

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With the state’s abundance of older buildings and housing structures, many Maryland residents have suffered from exposure to lead-based paint. Some Maryland lead paint victims have pursued a negligence claim against their landlords and property owners to recover compensation for their injuries. A December 18, 2017 decision by the Court of Appeals of Maryland is relevant to consider when bringing a claim arising out of lead exposure, particularly against out-of-state insurance companies and property owners.peeling paint

The matter was brought before the Maryland court by the U.S. District Court, before which was pending a lead paint case. The District Court sought an answer to the question of whether the pollution exclusion contained in the defendant’s Georgia insurance policy, which excluded coverage for bodily injuries resulting from the ingestion of lead-based paint, violated Maryland public policy.

The plaintiffs in the case had been exposed to lead-based paint at a property owned by the defendant in Maryland. The plaintiffs brought suit against the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company, claiming that the insurance company was obligated to indemnify the defendant. The insurance company contended that it was under no such obligation, since the defendant’s general liability insurance policy, which was purchased in Georgia, did not cover injuries resulting from pollutants such as lead-based paint. The plaintiffs argued that the exclusion, although valid under Georgia law, was against Maryland’s public policy and could not be enforced in the state.

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Insurance coverage can be crucial if substantial damages are awarded in a personal injury claim. In some instances, the plaintiff must undergo another court battle against the defendant’s insurance company to obtain a judgment. Guidance from an experienced Maryland premises liability attorney is particularly beneficial in cases involving insurance firms, as demonstrated in a July 27, 2017 case.gun

The plaintiff in the case had visited a pub to watch a basketball game. As he was opening the door to exit the pub, he was struck by a bullet. The shooter was neither apprehended nor identified. The pub and the plaintiff reached a consent judgment agreement, in which the pub admitted negligence and agreed to a settlement of $100,000 for medical expenses and noneconomic damages. Thereafter, the plaintiff made a demand on the pub’s insurance company for payment of the settlement, which was denied. The plaintiff then filed an action for breach of contract against the insurance company. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded damages in the amount of $100,000. The insurance company appealed the decision to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

The policy at issue contained an provision that excluded coverage for bodily injuries arising out of assault and battery. The primary issue for the court, therefore, was whether or not the shooting incident constituted a battery under the policy exclusion. The appeals court noted that there was no evidence regarding the identity of the shooter or whether the shooting was intentional or accidental. The absence of such evidence also raised the question of whether the intent of the shooter must be established to distinguish the injury from one that arises out of an accident. The court answered the question affirmatively, explaining that if evidence of intent was not necessary, virtually all bodily injuries caused by another person would be barred under the policy exclusion, including accidental injuries.

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Failing to follow procedural rules and deadlines set in a court case can result in serious consequences, including dismissal.  In a November 9, 2017 Maryland lead paint case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the plaintiff sought to reverse a summary judgment entered by the trial court on her negligence claim, stemming from a missed discovery deadline.house-1-1225482-639x478-300x225

In the case, the plaintiff alleged that she had been poisoned by lead-based paint while living in a property owned and managed by the defendants.  The plaintiff had identified an expert witness to testify regarding his opinion that the defendant’s property contained lead-based paint and that the plaintiff’s exposure to that lead-based paint caused her injuries.  The plaintiff had also obtained a report from an environmental testing company that found lead in the defendant’s property, but the report wasn’t completed and produced until 14 days after the discovery period closed.

The defendants moved to strike the report from evidence as untimely, and to strike the expert’s testimony on the ground that he lacked a sufficient factual basis for his opinion, i.e., the report.  The trial court granted the motions to strike.  The defendants then moved for summary judgment, based on the lack of expert testimony.  The trial court granted the motion, denying the plaintiff any recovery for her injuries.  The plaintiff then brought an appeal.

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If a negligent driver doesn’t have adequate insurance to fully compensate you for the loss you suffered in an accident, you may have to seek uninsured or underinsured coverage from your own insurance company. You can avoid some frustration by hiring an experienced Maryland car accident attorney to advance your claim and pursue damages in court upon a denial, as the plaintiffs did in a November 3, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. After their insurance company denied coverage for the wrongful death of their son, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against them in court.road work

The victim in the case was killed on the job by a motorist as he was directing traffic in a construction zone. The company for which the victim worked was insured by the defendant. The surviving family members sought to collect underinsured motor vehicle benefits from the defendant, after the motorist’s insurance coverage of $100,000 had been paid out and was exhausted. The defendant denied the claim, alleging that the employer’s policy with the defendant did not provide uninsured or underinsured coverage for its employees or their survivors.

Generally, Maryland courts will first look at the insurance policy contract to determine the rights and obligations of the parties, interpreting the plain meaning of the language.  Only when the language is ambiguous may the court consider evidence outside the context of the contract.

To succeed in a Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant failed to use reasonable care.  The standard of care required often depends on the circumstances of the case.  In a Maryland car accident case, for example, a driver is expected to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others.  A November 14, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates how the standard of care may vary when a person driving on icy roads is faced with a sudden emergency.icy road

In the case, the plaintiff was driving her family minivan at night on an wet and icy road.  The defendant drove an armored truck behind her at a distance of approximately two vehicle lengths.  When the plaintiff suddenly stopped her van, the defendant immediately applied his brakes but slid on the road.  In an attempt to avoid hitting the plaintiff’s van, the defendant swerved to the right and moved his truck onto an elevated grassy area beside the road.  Although the defendant avoided a direct collision, his truck clipped the rear bumper of the plaintiff’s van.  The plaintiff subsequently filed a negligence claim against the defendant.

After trial, the jury was instructed to measure the reasonableness of the defendant’s actions compared to those of other drivers facing the same sudden and real emergency.  The jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff appealed the verdict, arguing that the trial court erred in providing the jury instruction for acts in emergencies.  In particular, the plaintiff contended that it was not sufficiently supported by the evidence.

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The requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be complicated, but a Maryland medical malpractice attorney can help clients avoid dismissal on procedural grounds.  A November 6, 2017 case before the Court of Special Appeals illustrates some of the problems caused by failing to comply with the conditions precedent to the filing of a medical malpractice complaint.conference room

The plaintiff in the case filed a lawsuit against his doctor without legal counsel, alleging that the doctor misdiagnosed his cardiovascular disease as acid reflux.  The defendant waived arbitration, and the matter was transferred to the circuit court.  The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for failing to file a certificate of a qualified expert within 90 days of filing his claim, and failing to file his complaint in the circuit court within 60 days of the defendant’s election to waive arbitration and transfer.  The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Health Care Malpractice Claims Act provides the procedures for all lawsuits by a person against a health care provider for a medical injury with damages in excess of the jurisdictional limit.  The Act creates a mandatory arbitration system for all medical malpractice claims.  Before bringing a civil action in court, therefore, a plaintiff must first file a claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, and they must file a certificate and report of a qualified expert within 90 days.

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