Earlier this month, a Montana court dismissed a plaintiff’s claim based on the fact that the plaintiff failed to introduce evidence of the applicable standard of care to which the defendant’s conduct could be compared. In the case, Not Afraid v. Montana, the plaintiff was paralyzed after the vehicle he was riding in as a passenger collided with and then crashed through a concrete barrier, ultimately sliding down a steep hillside.
Several years after the accident, the man filed suit against the State, County, and City governments, alleging that negligence in the placement and maintenance of the concrete barriers contributed to his injuries. Most relevant was the plaintiff’s claim against the City, which was charged with maintaining that particular section of roadway.
The Plaintiff’s Case
The plaintiff claimed that the City was negligent in the placement, installation, and maintenance of the concrete barriers. To support his claim, the plaintiff submitted a four-page report prepared by an accident-reconstruction expert. That report concluded that the vehicle the plaintiff was traveling in was likely going about 45 miles per hour when it collided with the barrier, and “the barriers were relatively ineffective in containing higher speed vehicles traveling around the curve.”
The City then filed a pretrial motion, asking the court to dismiss the case against it on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to establish the applicable standard of care.
The Standard of Care and the Court’s Decision
Establishing a “standard of care” is one of several elements that must be met in order to prove a claim of negligence at trial. Absent evidence of the applicable standard of care, a trial court is proper in dismissing a case in response to a pretrial motion filed by the defendant.
The standard of care is used by the court to establish whether a defendant named in a lawsuit was negligent. Here, the court noted that there was no evidence establishing what the standard of care was in relation to the placement and maintenance of concrete barriers. The court acknowledged the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, but it ultimately held that the report was insufficient to establish a standard of care because it “simply concludes” that the position of the barriers necessarily reduced their effectiveness at preventing a vehicle from crashing through them.
The court was likely looking for some evidence – whether it be through expert testimony or a published report – that concrete barriers should normally be set in a specific manner in order to be effective in stopping an oncoming vehicle.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on another party’s negligence. In most accident cases against other motorists, the standard of care is easily established because all motorists owe a standard of care to others on the road. However, in more complex cases with additional defendants, this element will often require additional proof. To learn more about Maryland car accident cases, and how you may be able to recover damages for an accident you have been involved in, call the Maryland-based personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC at 410-654-3600. Calling is free, and our services will not result in any cost to you unless we are able to recover on your behalf.
More Blog Posts:
State Supreme Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Award for Punitive Damages, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 7, 2015.
Driver in Tragic Oklahoma Parade Accident May Have Been Acting Intentionally, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 3, 2015.