Plaintiff Successfully Appeals Damages Verdict in Maryland Car Accident Case

In a Maryland personal injury case, a plaintiff must present proof of the amount of their damages.  Recoverable damages may include past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and other economic and non-economic losses incurred by the plaintiffs.  In a November 15, 2019 car accident case, the issue of damages came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.  The plaintiff appealed after a jury awarded her $3,100 for her injuries caused by the accident.

The plaintiff in the case was involved in a car accident when she was a junior in high school.  While seated as a passenger in her father’s vehicle, the defendant had rear-ended their car, which caused her head to hit the head rest very hard.  She immediately had a slight headache, but appeared unharmed following the accident.  Over the next few months, however, the plaintiff’s headaches worsened, and she showed signs of memory loss.  Her symptoms prevented her from playing in golf tournaments, and although she received a golf scholarship her senior year, and she felt that her poor performance after the accident prevented her from securing a scholarship in her junior year.

The plaintiff brought a personal injury claim against the defendant, who conceded to liability.  At trial, the issue for the jury was the amount of damages.  The plaintiff argued on appeal that the trial court erred by suppressing some evidence and testimony regarding college scholarships, her memory loss, and other matters.

On appeal, the court concluded that the trial court erred by excluding, as hearsay, the testimony of the plaintiff’s mother regarding her memory less and the testimony of the plaintiff regarding scholarships obtained by her peers.  Hearsay is a statement that was not made by the person testifying, but is offered into evidence at trial to prove the truth of the matter asserted.  The appeals court held that the plaintiff’s testimony was not merely hearsay because she testified as to words spoken by her peers, as it was not offered for the truth of the matter asserted.  The court also found that her mother’s testimony regarding her observations that the plaintiff struggled with finding words was not hearsay because she was not testifying about a statement the plaintiff had made.

In Maryland, if the reviewing court finds that an erroneous evidentiary ruling was made by the trial court, a verdict will only be set aside if the error likely affected the outcome of the trial.  The appeals court ultimately found that the cumulative effect of the aforementioned evidentiary errors, in addition to other errors, had probably impacted the jury’s decision to award a low damages amount.  The court therefore set aside the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial.

At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland personal injury attorneys can provide legal guidance and representation if you have been hurt in an auto accident. We handle a wide range of negligence cases, including medical malpractice lawsuits, wrongful death actions, and premises liability claims.  Request an appointment to discuss your injury with a qualified attorney by calling Foran & Foran at (301) 441-2022 or submitting our contract form online.