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.