In some Maryland negligence cases, it is difficult to determine exactly how the victim’s personal injury occurred.  Legal recourse may nevertheless be possible under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur if the jury could infer that negligence on the part of the defendant was more probable than not responsible for the victim’s injury.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland addressed whether the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied in a June 25, 2018 case involving an escalator injury.

The plaintiff in the case was using the escalator in a department store in the mall.  She was injured when the escalator stopped suddenly.  The plaintiff brought suit against the companies which owned, operated, and/or maintained the escalator.  However, the lower court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff failed to designate an expert witness on the issue of liability.  The plaintiff appealed, contending that, as she had met her burden to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, expert testimony was unnecessary.

In Maryland, a plaintiff seeking to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur must establish that the accident was one that does not ordinarily occur absent negligence, that the accident was caused by an instrumentality exclusively within the defendant’s control, and the accident was not caused by an act or omission of the plaintiff.  If the plaintiff can prove these elements, then the issue of negligence may be presented to a jury, which may then choose to infer a defendant’s negligence without the aid of any direct evidence.

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After a car accident, a claim for medical expenses and other damages is typically submitted to the insurance company.  If the insurance company delays or refuses to pay the claim, however, accident victims may be unsure of their legal recourse.  Many people choose to hire a Maryland car accident attorney to file an insurance claim on their behalf and represent them in any subsequent legal action.  A lack of legal knowledge and training could be detrimental in bringing a lawsuit against a big insurance company.

In a June 12, 2018 case, the plaintiff represented himself in a lawsuit against his insurance company to recover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.  The plaintiff in the case had been involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured motorist.  The plaintiff’s insurance company paid him the $2,500 policy limit of his personal injury protection benefits as a result of the accident.  Thereafter, the plaintiff sought additional coverage pursuant to his uninsured motorist policy for medical expenses he incurred approximately six months after the accident to treat whiplash.  The insurance company rejected the claim, and the plaintiff filed a lawsuit with the Maryland circuit court.

The plaintiff’s bad faith claim and claim for punitive damages were dismissed by the court, and the matter went to trial on the breach of contract claim.  At trial, the plaintiff attempted to introduce his medical records and bills without expert testimony.  The court sustained the insurance company’s objection, ruling that the plaintiff could not testify as to the medical opinions, diagnoses, or amount of the bills.  Consequently, and due to the lack of expert testimony, the court granted the insurance company’s motion for judgment, concluding that the plaintiff had failed to prove his claim that the insurance company had breached their contract.  The plaintiff then appealed to the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

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Knowing when to seek medical treatment can be a complicated and very personal decision.  Whether that decision has any effect on a health provider’s liability for negligence was the issue in an April 26, 2018 Maryland medical malpractice case before the Court of Special Appeals.  

The plaintiff in the case filed a medical malpractice claim against his physician, alleging that the physician negligently cut the plaintiff’s bile duct while surgically removing his inflamed gallbladder.  Before visiting the physician, the plaintiff had gone to the emergency room for stomach pains.  The plaintiff left, however, before the condition could be diagnosed, and he waited an additional 11 days before seeking treatment again from the defendant, who performed the surgery.

The defendant denied any negligence and further alleged, as a defense, that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in failing to timely seek treatment for severe abdominal pains.  The jury ultimately found that the defendant was not negligent.  The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the defense was improper because any alleged contributory negligence occurred before he sought treatment from the defendant.

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In a tragic Maryland wrongful death case, five people residing in a house died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their sleep.  The source of the leak was a negligently installed bathroom ventilation fan, which was connected to a flue carrying carbon monoxide gas from the water heater to the roof vent.  On the evening they died, someone had left on the bathroom fan.  Due to the improper fan connection, the carbon monoxide entered the rooms occupied by the victims.

The spouses and children of the victims brought suit, alleging negligence claims against the home warranty company that covered repairs to appliances in the house, two independent contractors with which the home warranty company contracted to do the repairs, and other defendants.  The trial court ruled that the home warranty contract absolved the independent contractors from any duty to address rust and holes in or around the flue pipes, and it granted summary judgment in favor of the independent contractor defendants.  The plaintiffs appealed the matter to the higher court.

In Maryland, negligence actions generally require proof of the elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages.  In reviewing whether the trial court erred by finding the independent contractor defendants did not owe a duty to the victims, the appeals court looked at the provisions of the contract between the home warranty company and the homeowners, as well as the agreements between the home warranty company and the independent contractors.  The court held that nothing in either of the agreements limited or controlled the work that the independent contractors could perform.  As a result, the home warranty company did not control the independent contractors, and nothing in the agreements precluded the existence of any other duty owed by the contractors to the victims.

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If you are seeking compensation from the person responsible for your injuries, fair legal proceedings are important.  An experienced Maryland car accident attorney can assert your rights at trial by objecting to the submission of prejudicial evidence.  As demonstrated in a May 18, 2018 car accident case, the admission of certain documents and testimony in a jury trial could have a significant impact on the outcome.

The plaintiff in the case was rear-ended by the defendant while she was stopped in traffic.  The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging that she was injured as a result of his negligent driving.  One of the defenses asserted by the defendant was that his brakes failed.  After a three-day trial, a jury found that the defendant was not negligent.  One of the plaintiff’s major arguments on appeal was that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a repair invoice.  The invoice contained notes written by the mechanic about information he obtained from the defendant, as well as statements regarding the repairs made to the defendant’s vehicle.

It was undisputed that the statements contained in the invoice concerning the condition of the defendant’s brakes were hearsay.  Hearsay is generally inadmissible, unless it falls under an exception.  The trial court admitted the invoice under the residual exception.  The residual exception to the hearsay rule provides that a hearsay statement that otherwise does not fall under any other exception may be admitted if it is relatively trustworthy, if it is more probative as to an issue than any other evidence that can reasonably be obtained, if advance notice of the statement is provided, and if doing so will best serve the interests of justice.

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Many people who have suffered injuries due to negligence may seek compensation for medical bills and other losses in a Maryland personal injury claim against the responsible parties.  Determining who may be held responsible, however, can be complicated in some situations.  A May 23, 2018 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland shows how the issue may affect a plaintiff’s claim.

The plaintiff in the case alleged that she was battered by an unknown, off-duty County police officer while the officer was working as outside security for a nightclub.  The incident occurred after the plaintiff’s sister was escorted out of the club by the bouncers.  Once outside, one of the officers was tasked with removing her from the property.  Her sister punched the officer and ran to attack another patron being escorted out.  The plaintiff yelled at her sister to stop fighting, waving her arms.  At that point, one of the off-duty police officers grabbed the plaintiff’s arm, twisted it behind her back, and pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground.  The plaintiff suffered a broken arm and injuries to her shoulder, hand, and ankle.

The plaintiff filed negligence claims against the nightclub as well as the County, arguing that the officer was acting within his scope of employment with the County when the incident occurred.  The trial court agreed and granted a motion for judgment in favor of the plaintiff.  The issue of damages was submitted to the jury, which awarded the plaintiff approximately $70,000.  The County appealed, arguing that the scope of employment was an issue of fact for the jury to decide.

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If medical negligence is suspected in the death of a loved one, a Maryland wrongful death attorney may be consulted to investigate and identify potential legal claims and responsible parties.  In a tragic case before the Court of Special Appeals on May 18, 2018, the parents of an infant born via gestational carrier brought a negligence claim against the doctor and fertility clinic that facilitated and supervised the pregnancy.  The premature infant survived only 21 days before her death.

The plaintiffs in the case had entered into a gestational carrier contract with a woman who agreed to surrogate their child.  The woman failed to disclose her history of pregnancy complications, however, and the defendant-doctor proceeded with an embryo transfer without obtaining the woman’s prior medical records and clearance from the woman’s regular obstetrician.  After a successful embryo transfer, the woman became pregnant with the plaintiffs’ child.  Just 25 weeks into the pregnancy, the woman developed severe, life-threatening preeclampsia and underwent an emergency C-section delivery.  The infant succumbed to an infection and died not long after her birth.

Eventually, a review of the woman’s medical records revealed that during her last pregnancy, also as a gestational carrier, she developed preeclampsia and delivered the baby prematurely.  Medical experts testified that preeclampsia is known to worsen with each pregnancy, so the woman’s medical history should have disqualified her from being a gestational carrier.  After trial, the jury found the defendants liable for medical negligence.  The infant’s estate and the parents were awarded over $44 million in non-economic damages, although that amount was reduced by the statutory cap.

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An accident victim who asserts a Maryland negligence claim against another person or business has the burden of establishing certain legal elements.  A May 10, 2018 decision by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the requirements necessary to survive a summary judgment motion by the defendant in a premises liability case.  The question for the court was whether the evidence was sufficient to prove that the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s injury.

The plaintiff in the case was injured at the defendant’s gas station convenience store while buying food and gasoline for her car.  After she had placed a food order from the made-to-order counter, the plaintiff walked toward the exit to proceed with filling her gas tank.  On her way out the door, her foot caught on the rubbed edge of a rug that was upturned, causing her to fall and sustain injuries.  The plaintiff alleged that the employee behind the food counter told her that the rug was up a little bit.  The plaintiff subsequently filed suit against the owner of the convenience store, alleging negligence.

In Maryland premises liability cases, a property owner owes a duty of care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.  An owner is only liable for injuries caused to invitees by a condition on the property if he or she knows of the condition, or would have known by exercising reasonable care, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm, should also expect that the invitees will not discover or realize the danger or will otherwise fail to protect themselves against it, and furthermore fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.  However, the owner is not required to insure the invitee’s safety or constantly patrol the property to discover potential hazards.

The liability of certain parties may be a complicated issue in some Maryland medical malpractice cases.  In an April 27, 2018 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland examined the question of whether a medical group was liable for the alleged negligence of an employee other than the physician-defendant.  The jury in the case found that the physician was not negligent, but the medical group, through one of its agents, was negligent.  The medical group filed the current appeal.

The plaintiff in the case was diagnosed with a retinal tear in his eye and needed surgery.  When he suffered permanent vision loss after the operation, he brought suit against the eye clinic and the surgeon who operated on him.  Under the Maryland Health Care Act, negligence requires a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a violation of the standard of care that constitutes a breach of that duty, causation, and injury.  In addition, the plaintiff must file a certificate of a qualified expert and report attesting to the defendant’s departure from the standard of care and causation of the alleged injury.

The case went to trial, at which the plaintiff’s medical expert testified that in his opinion, the surgeon violated the standard of care.  When asked about the negligence of the eye clinic, the expert stated that if the surgeon was an employee of the eye clinic, it was his opinion that the eye clinic was also negligent.  The jury found that the surgeon did not deviate from the standard of care.  The jury further found that the agents and employees of the eye clinic were negligent and awarded $1,000,000 in damages to the plaintiff.

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Even if a legal concept provides for an unfortunate outcome, an experienced car accident attorney will be prepared to argue persuasively in your favor.  In an April 20, 2018 Maryland car accident case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether the doctrine of imputed negligence would apply to prevent the injured plaintiff from recovering damages from the defendant.  After the lower court entered judgment in favor of the defendant, Maryland’s highest court had the opportunity to decide whether the application of the doctrine should be overruled in the context of owner-passenger car accident cases.

The plaintiff and her husband drove to a restaurant to pick up their carry-out meal.  The plaintiff’s husband was driving the vehicle, which was solely registered in the plaintiff’s name.  The plaintiff was riding in the passenger seat.  The husband parked across two handicapped spots behind the defendant’s truck and went inside the restaurant to get their dinner.  As the plaintiff waited in the car, the defendant backed up his truck out of his parking space into her vehicle.  The plaintiff suffered injuries to her shoulder as a result of the accident.

Under the doctrine of imputed negligence, the owner of a vehicle who allows someone else to drive while remaining inside as a passenger may be held liable for any negligence of the driver.  It is not based on any negligence of the owner-passenger; instead, it is a form of vicarious liability.  Since the plaintiff’s husband was found negligent by parking perpendicular to a handicapped space behind the defendant’s vehicle, his negligence was imputed to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff was therefore barred from recovering damages under the doctrine of contributory negligence.

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