Following a Maryland car accident, the passenger of the vehicle that was rear-ended sued the other driver for negligence. The case went to trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her damages for all of her past medical bills and $650 for pain and suffering. The plaintiff appealed the judgment amount for non-economic damages, arguing that she was prejudiced by the admission of her medical records into evidence. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland published its decision in a June 28, 2017 opinion.
On the day of the accident, the plaintiff was sitting in the rear passenger seat of a small SUV, while her son was driving. As they came to a complete stop in heavy traffic on the exit ramp, the SUV was rear-ended by a vehicle being driven by the defendant. Although police and ambulances were called to the scene, the plaintiff did not seek medical treatment. On the next morning, she went to the emergency room with low back pain and was released the same day. A week after the accident, the plaintiff sought treatment from a chiropractor. Three years later, she underwent shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, which her doctor testified was caused by the accident. A doctor for the defendant examined the plaintiff pursuant to the litigation and reviewed her medical records. Based on the physical examination and records, the doctor testified that the plaintiff did not sustain her shoulder injury in the accident. The plaintiff’s medical records were admitted into evidence.
On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred by admitting the medical records into evidence and that she was prejudiced by their admission. The records at issue were admitted under an evidentiary rule concerning the bases of opinion testimony by experts. The rule provides that facts or data upon which the expert relies may be disclosed to the jury if they are determined to be trustworthy and necessary to illuminate the testimony. The court explained that there is no significant difference between disclosure and admission of a writing under the rule. Therefore, if it satisfies this rule, the court has discretion to allow otherwise inadmissible evidence in order to explain the factual basis for an expert’s opinion. Upon request, the court must instruct the jury that the facts or data may only be used to explain how the expert reached an opinion.
The court concluded that the medical records at issue met the criteria under the rule, since they were trustworthy, unprivileged, reasonably relied upon by an expert in forming his opinion, and necessary to illuminate that expert’s testimony. The court reasoned that the plaintiff’s claim of prejudice was waived, since her attorney did not request a limiting instruction. Accordingly, the verdict amount of approximately $11,000 was affirmed, but no additional amount was awarded.
At Foran & Foran, we work tirelessly to help Maryland plaintiffs pursue compensation for their injuries after a car accident. Our personal injury attorneys are also experienced in medical malpractice claims, premises liability actions, and many other injury cases against negligent individuals or businesses. Contact us today to set up your free consultation by calling (301) 441-2022 or submitting our online form.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Rules in Favor of Insureds, Awards Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Moped and Motor Scooter Cases, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 14, 2015
Maryland Court of Special Appeals Sides with Plaintiff Regarding Arbitration of Wrongful Death Claims, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 11, 2016