Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion that may be of interest to anyone injured in a Maryland car accident due to a dangerous or defective component in a vehicle. In the case, the court affirmed a jury’s verdict in favor of a man who was permanently paralyzed after being involved in a car accident while riding as a passenger in a van manufactured by the defendant. However, since the manner in which the verdict was rendered may suggest that the jury was confused, a new trial was awarded to determine the appropriate amount of damages the plaintiff is owed.

Westphalia VanThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving a van manufactured by the defendant when he was involved in a low-speed collision with the vehicle in front of him. The van rolled onto its side after the collision. Despite the fact that he was wearing his seatbelt at the time, the plaintiff slammed his head against the van’s roof, resulting in his spinal cord being severed. The plaintiff was paralyzed from the neck down after the accident. No one else in the van suffered any injuries.

The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against the van’s manufacturer, alleging several theories of liability. However, after a trial was conducted, the jury found the manufacturer liable only for failing to conduct adequate testing on the seatbelt mechanism. The jury awarded the plaintiff $1 million in past damages and nothing for future damages.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in an interesting car accident case involving the applicable standard to apply to a designated driver’s conduct in a lawsuit brought against the designated driver by an intoxicated passenger. This case is important for Maryland car accident victims because this is a relatively new legal issue that Maryland courts have yet to address.

Drinking and DrivingThe Fact of the Case

The plaintiff was at a party with several friends, when the group decided to leave and head back to one of their apartments. The one sober person in the group volunteered to drive. At some point in the trip back to the apartment, two of the passengers climbed on the trunk of the car. The driver told them several times to get back inside the car, but the two insisted that they wanted to ride on the trunk. The driver continued to head toward the apartment, traveling at 15 miles per hour, slowing down for curves, and checking on the two every 30 seconds through the rear-view mirror.

When the car was nearing the apartment complex, the front-seat passenger pushed the driver’s right leg down, causing her foot to step on the accelerator. The car sped up, and the two people sitting on the trunk fell off. One of the passengers who fell off the trunk filed a claim with their insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision. The company denied the claim, and the injured passenger filed a personal injury claim in hopes of compelling the insurance company to pay out on the claim.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Kentucky issued an interesting opinion in a car accident case that may be of interest to Maryland car accident victims who are considering filing a claim with their insurance company. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether an insurance company can require accident victims to submit to questioning under oath before approving a claim. Ultimately, since the questioning at issue was related to the underlying accident, which in turn related to the vehicle’s coverage, the court held that the insurance company was permitted to question the accident victims under oath.

Insurance ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were several people in the same vehicle who were injured in a rear-end accident while they were stopped at a red light. The vehicle that struck the car occupied by the plaintiffs fled the scene, and no information was obtained to help locate the vehicle.

After the accident, several of the plaintiffs filed a claim with the driver’s insurance policy. In the processing of their claims, the plaintiffs each answered questions related to the accident. Specifically, the questions were regarding where the plaintiffs were going, where they had come from, and so on. The plaintiffs also answered questions from the police officer who arrived on the scene after the accident.

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Last month, an appellate court in South Dakota issued a written opinion in a car accident case that will be of interest to Maryland car accident victims considering filing a personal injury case seeking compensation for their injuries. The case illustrates the procedural mechanism of summary judgment and when it is appropriate in personal injury cases. In this case, since the evidence presented gave rise to a material fact that needed to be resolved by the jury, the appellate court determined that the lower court was proper to deny the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.

Snowy RoadSummary Judgment in Maryland Car Accident Cases

Summary judgment is a motion that can be filed by either a plaintiff or a defendant, seeking early judgment in that party’s favor based on the other parties’ inability to legally succeed. Commonly, summary judgment motions are filed by defendants in Maryland car accident cases, arguing that there is some defect in the plaintiff’s case, such that, even if all of the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s case will still fail.

In order to survive a summary judgment challenge, a party must establish that there is some factual question in the case that needs resolution. If that is the case, the court will deny the motion for summary judgment and submit the case to a jury. However, if the parties essentially agree on the facts and are arguing only over the application of the law, the judge can make the determination.

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Many of us have the experience of sitting in a busy intersection, when a motorist approaching in the opposite direction is attempting to make a left turn through what seems like a solid line of cars. In this situation, it is common for the turning driver to look at one of the cars in the line of traffic in hopes of getting some feedback about whether it is safe to proceed with the turn.

Traffic JamIn a recent personal injury case, the court had to determine if a defendant’s “wave on” gesture was the cause of an accident that injured the plaintiff. The case is important for Maryland car accident victims to understand because it illustrates how Maryland courts may interpret the causation element of a personal injury case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an on-duty police officer returning to the police barracks. The plaintiff was traveling westbound, and as he approached the barracks parking lot, he needed to make a left hand turn across two eastbound lanes of traffic. The defendant was traveling on the same road in the opposite direction.

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Causation is a necessary element of any Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Briefly, the causation requirement is met if the plaintiff can establish that the defendant’s actions brought about the plaintiff’s harm. While that may sound like a fairly straightforward determination, the reality is that much litigation is focused around the causation element. A recent case details how one state’s supreme court conducted a causation analysis. The case is important to Maryland car accident victims because, while the specific law applied in Maryland courts is slightly different, similar principles do apply.

CrosswalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a student who was injured while running with his school’s cross-country team. The injury occurred when the plaintiffs’ son was instructed to cross the street against a red light by the track coach, who was running with the team. As the boy entered the intersection, he was struck by a passing vehicle, resulting in serious injuries.

The boy’s parents filed a personal injury lawsuit against the coach, arguing that he was responsible for their son’s injury. The parents also named the driver of the car that struck their son, although that case was not discussed in the opinion.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a man whose wife was killed by a drunk driver as she was sitting under a cabana at the defendant hotel’s pool. The plaintiff claimed that the hotel should have erected some sort of barrier to prevent this type of accident from occurring. However, the court ultimately dismissed his case, finding that the hotel did not have a duty to erect a barrier under the circumstances. The case might be of interest to Maryland car accident victims.

Poolside CabanaThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his wife were visiting the defendant hotel. The couple was outside under a cabana at the hotel’s pool when a drunk driver failed to negotiate a turn in the road, jumped a curb, crashed through the fence surrounding the pool area, and collided with the cabana. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff was injured, and his pregnant wife was killed.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the hotel, claiming that it was negligent in failing to take precautions to prevent this type of accident from occurring. The plaintiff called several expert witnesses, who testified that the way the road curved next to the hotel meant that cars would be going full-speed as they were heading directly at the hotel’s pool area. Additionally, the plaintiff presented evidence that hotel management knew that motorists would often speed down the section of road adjacent to the hotel.

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When a driver drinks too much and then gets behind the wheel, they put everyone on the road at risk. It is common knowledge that anyone injured in a Washington, D.C. drunk driving accident can seek compensation for their injuries from the drunk driver. However, what is less known is that a bar, club, or restaurant that over-serves a customer to the point of intoxication may also be held liable in some circumstances. This is known as Dram Shop liability.

Golf CourseIn most states that permit Dram Shop cases, there is a specific statute that allows victims to proceed against the serving establishment. However, there is no such statute in Washington, D.C. That being said, Washington, D.C. courts have routinely upheld a plaintiff’s right to seek compensation in Dram Shop cases based on D.C. Code Annotated section 25-781, which prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated, appears to be intoxicated, or is known to have a drinking problem. Importantly, Maryland courts have routinely rejected the theory of Dram Shop liability. Thus, Maryland drunk driving victims can hold the serving establishment liable for injuries caused by a drunk driver.

A recent appellate court decision out of Florida illustrates how Dram Shop liability can help an injured plaintiff seek the compensation they deserve.

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Maryland hit-and-run accidents present a number of legal questions. Most often, these questions are answered by the courts after an accident victim files a claim against their own insurance company that is subsequently denied. Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving two defendants:  a hit-and-run driver listed only as “John Doe,” as well as the named defendant. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s choice of venue was proper, given the fact that neither the plaintiff nor the named defendant lived in the county where the case was filed.

Car AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were traveling on a Georgia highway when an unknown motorist entered their lane of travel, causing them to slow down in order to avoid a collision. As the plaintiffs’ vehicle slowed, the defendant’s vehicle crashed into the back of the plaintiffs’ vehicle. The vehicle that cut the plaintiffs off drove off without stopping and was never located.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant who had struck their car as well as the hit-and-run driver who caused them to slow down in the first place. The plaintiffs’ claim against the defendant was that he was following too closely at the time. The case was filed in the county where the accident occurred.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an interesting written opinion in a product liability case, discussing when a plaintiff is able to introduce evidence of similar defects in the defendant’s product that had occurred in the past.

car interiorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were stopped at a highway off-ramp when they were rear-ended by a 1996 Toyota that was exiting the highway, traveling at 75 miles per hour. Two of the people in the car were instantly killed, and three other passengers were seriously injured, with one suffering from quadriplegia.

Initially, the other driver was charged with vehicular homicide; however, Toyota later announced a recall of the braking systems of many 1996 Toyotas, including the other driver’s vehicle. He was later exonerated. After the recall and subsequent exoneration, the plaintiffs in the stopped vehicle filed a product liability lawsuit against Toyota.

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