Motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians can result in serious personal injuries to the more vulnerable people who are on foot.  If a Maryland pedestrian accident was caused by a careless driver, the person on foot may be able to recover damages for medical expenses and other losses in a negligence action.  The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently issued an October 14, 2020 opinion in an unusual car accident case.

The plaintiffs in the case filed a personal injury action against the defendant, alleging that the defendant had injured them by negligently striking them with her vehicle.  More specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendant was making a left turn and struck the plaintiffs in the middle of a marked crosswalk on the street, knocking them to the ground and injuring them.

The defendant, in turn, argued that her vehicle never made contact with the plaintiffs.  The defendant further claimed that the plaintiffs were already injured before they entered the crosswalk and had laid down in the road as her vehicle approached them.  At trial, a witness testified that she saw the plaintiffs standing on the sidewalk prior to the incident and noticed that their faces were bloody.  The witness went on to testify that the plaintiffs had laid down in the street before the defendant had even approached. Following trial, the jury found in favor of the defendant.

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A Maryland wrongful death action based on the negligence of police or law enforcement officers generally has a higher burden of proof than a typical negligence claim.  In a September 24, 2020 wrongful death case arising out of a police shooting, the Maryland Court of Special Appeal considered whether summary judgment was properly granted in favor of the police officer.

The defendant in the case attempted to pull over the decedent, who was driving an SUV that matched the description of a vehicle that had eluded the police weeks ago after a high-speed chase.  The decedent sped away, with the defendant following him through a residential neighborhood.  The decedent then got out of the SUV, kicked in the door of a townhouse, and ran upstairs.  The police officer testified that after he ordered the decedent to come down, the decedent rushed down the stairs quickly and aggressively, leading the officer to believe that he was attempting to take his weapon.  The defendant stated that although he fired his weapon at the decedent, the decedent continued down the stairs and grabbed him.  During the struggle, the officer fired several shots, and the decedent ultimately died from a gunshot wound to his chest.

The survivors of the decedent brought a wrongful death claim against the police officer.  The trial court, finding that the officer had acted reasonably, granted judgment in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiffs appealed the decision, arguing that the issue of reasonableness should have been determined by a jury.

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The surviving family members of a decedent may bring a wrongful death action against the person responsible for the death of their loved one by working with a Maryland personal injury attorney.  When negligence is alleged against a municipality or law enforcement officers, they may be held to a different legal standard.  In a July 20, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed a wrongful death claim against the county and a police officer.  One of the issues on appeal was whether summary judgment was property granted in favor of the defendants as to the gross negligence of the officer.

The plaintiffs in the case were the parents of a 17-month-old child.  The police officer was pursuing a suspect who had fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident at a high rate of speed.  The officer was driving at an average speed of 90 miles per hour to keep up with the suspect, in a residential and commercial area.  The car chase ended when the suspect ran a red light and struck another vehicle.  That vehicle was forced onto the curb, where it struck a stroller carrying the plaintiffs’ child.

The plaintiffs sued the county and the police officer, alleging gross negligence and wrongful death, among other claims.  The defendants claimed immunity from liability under Maryland law.  After the lower court granted summary judgment for the defendants, the plaintiffs appealed on multiple grounds.

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One of the elements of a Maryland medical malpractice claim requires the plaintiff to establish that the defendant’s actions fell below the standard of care of a medical professional practicing under the same circumstances.  To prove this element, the plaintiff must present a qualified medical expert to testify that the defendant breached the standard of care.  In an October 2, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the testimony of the plaintiff’s medical expert was precluded by the “twenty-percent rule,” which generally bars experts who spend more than twenty percent of their professional activities directly involved in testifying as exert witnesses.

The plaintiff in the case was the surviving wife of the decedent, who had died from complications following back surgery.  She brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who treated the decedent and the doctor’s practice group.  The plaintiff filed a certificate of qualified expert, as provided under the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act.  The certificate indicated that the plaintiff’s medical expert, an orthopedic surgeon, would testify that the defendant violated the standard of care by failing to recognize that the decedent was a high-risk patient and by not opting for alternative treatments to surgery.  The certificate also contained the required statement that no more than twenty percent of the expert’s activities were related to testifying as an expert witness.

At trial, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s expert had not produced sufficient evidence of compliance with the twenty percent rule, and moved to disqualify him.  The trial court denied the motion, and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in excess of $900,000.  After trial, the defendant renewed its objection as to the expert.  The trial court reconsidered the issue, finding that it had erred in allowing the expert to testify, and entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff then appealed the ruling.

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In most Maryland medical malpractice cases, the negligence of a physician must be established by the testimony of an expert witness.  A rare exception to the general rule requiring expert testimony is made only when such medical negligence is obvious and within the common knowledge of an ordinary person.  In an August 24, 2020 case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether expert testimony was also required to establish the medical negligence of a non-party physician.  The defendant in the case raised the issue of a non-party physician’s medical negligence as part of his defense.

The plaintiff in the case was diagnosed with a kidney tumor and enlarged lymph node in August 2011.  The defendant surgically removed the plaintiff’s kidney, but did not remove the lymph node as planned because of its proximity to a vital blood vessel.  Following surgery, the plaintiff was treated by an oncologist, who ordered periodic CT scans of the lymph node.  In 2015, a biopsy was performed, which indicated that the lymph node was cancerous and had increased in size, rendering it inoperable.

The plaintiff brought medical malpractice claims against multiple physicians involved in his treatment, with the exception of his oncologist.  The plaintiff alleged that, had the defendants either removed the lymph node in the 2011 surgery, or alerted his oncologist that the lymph node was increasing in size, it could have been safely removed earlier.  At trial, the court permitted the jury to consider the issue raised by the defendants of the oncologist’s alleged medical negligence, although no expert testimony was presented to support the defendants’ assertions.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiffs appealed.

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Expert testimony may be crucial to establish a medical malpractice claim in Maryland.  A party’s failure to identify a medical expert witness before the discovery deadline may result in sanctions.  In a July 7, 2020 Maryland medical malpractice case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed the decision of a trial court to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness.  The plaintiff sought the appeal after judgment was granted in favor of the defendants.

The plaintiff in the case was involved in a car accident and suffered a neck strain.  She sought medical treatment from the defendant, a healthcare practice that included chiropractic services, and was treated by two doctors who were also defendants in the case.  The plaintiff brought a medical negligence suit against them, alleging that the chiropractic treatments performed by the doctors caused damage to a spinal cord stimulator that was previously implanted in her neck.

Before trial, the plaintiff had timely identified one expert medical witness by the required deadline.  At some point after the deadline, the plaintiff realized that her designated medical expert could not testify as to the causation element of her claim.  Almost two months after the deadline had passed, the plaintiff sought to add a board-certified neurosurgeon as an expert witness to testify as to causation.  The circuit court denied the request, and as a result, the plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case for medical malpractice.

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Informed consent is an important part of medical care.  If a health care provider fails to disclose certain information to the patient before a procedure or examination, they may face a Maryland medical malpractice claim.  In an August 6, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether a new trial was necessary after the jury found in favor of the defendant on the claims for informed consent and medical negligence.

The plaintiff in the case sought treatment from the defendant for kidney and ureteral stones.  During the appointment, the defendant had the plaintiff completely disrobe.  The defendant then performed digital pelvic and rectal examinations, which had no medical value for the purpose of treating the plaintiff’s kidney stones.  The plaintiff felt violated and was later diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD.

The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging claims for negligence and failure to obtain informed consent.  The lower court granted summary judgment on the issue of informed consent only with respect to the elements of duty and breach.  The issues of causation and damages were then tried before a jury.  At trial, the jury was told only that the court had already ruled that the defendant did not obtain informed consent for the treatment of a kidney stone.  The jury ultimately found that the plaintiff was not damaged by the lack of consent.

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When a person’s death was caused by negligence, the surviving family members may bring a Maryland wrongful death action against the responsible party.  In some cases, however, the law grants immunity to certain people and entities.  In a July 24, 2020 decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the defendant, a mental health care provider, was statutorily immune from liability with respect to the plaintiffs’ wrongful death suit.

The plaintiffs in the case were the family of a thirteen-year-old child who was shot and killed by a psychiatric patient who had absconded from a mental health care center.  The patient had been admitted to the psychiatric unit of the hospital after his arrest for armed robbery, fleeing the scene, and engaging in a stand-off with police.  Armed law enforcement officers were not allowed in the area of the hospital where the patient was being treated, although the hospital was notified that the patient would be arrested upon his discharge.  A few days after his admission to the center, the patient, still in a hospital gown, walked out of his room and left the building.  Eleven days later, the patient shot and killed the victim.

The plaintiffs brought a wrongful death and survival action against the center and other defendants, alleging that they were negligent in failing to prevent the patient from leaving the hospital eleven days prior to the shooting.  The center argued that as a mental health care provider, it is immune from civil liability for failing to provide protection from a patient’s violent behavior.  The circuit court agreed and dismissed the claims, and the plaintiffs filed the instant appeal.

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Auto insurance laws vary widely among states.  When the court must determine which state’s law to apply in a car accident case, multiple factors are considered.  In an August 11, 2020 decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether Maryland law was properly applied in a case involving an insurance policy issued in Pennsylvania.

The plaintiff in the case was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a rear-end accident in Maryland.  Both the plaintiff and the driver of the vehicle in which she rode were Pennsylvania residents.  The driver and owner of the other vehicle that rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle were residents of Maryland.  As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered neck and back injuries that required extensive medical treatment, including multiple surgeries.

The plaintiff filed suit in Maryland, seeking damages for medical expenses.  She brought claims against the other driver and the other driver’s insurance company, as well as her own insurance company and the insurance company of the driver of the vehicle in which she rode. The plaintiff settled with the other driver’s insurer for the liability limits of their policy.  The plaintiff continued to pursue her claims against the other insurers for underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

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Business owners and property holders may be held responsible for injuries caused by their negligence.  In an August 17, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a Maryland personal injury case arising out of an assault committed against the plaintiff in the parking lot of a bar owned by the defendant.  Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff brought the instant appeal, arguing that the circuit court erred by not allowing him to present evidence of prior similar assaults on the defendant’s property.

The plaintiff in the case was with a friend at the bar and restaurant operated by the defendant.  When his friend got into a heated argument with an intoxicated individual, the plaintiff attempted to separate them.  The security officers then intervened and escorted the individual outside of the restaurant.  Security also asked the plaintiff and his friend to leave.  While the plaintiff was walking towards his car, the individual ran across the parking lot and punched him in the head, knocking him unconscious.  The plaintiff was left in a coma with a fractured skull and multiple head injuries.  The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant, alleging negligence and premises liability claims.

In a negligence case in Maryland, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, the defendant breached that duty, the plaintiff suffered an injury, which proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty.  In general, a person has no duty to prevent a third party from causing physical harm by criminal acts, absent a special relationship.

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