Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing when an employer can be held liable when an employee causes a serious car accident on the way to or from work. Ultimately, the court concluded that an employer may be held liable in situations where the employer requires an employee to use the car on the day of the accident. The case is important for Maryland car accident victims because it illustrates the types of arguments employers may make when one of their employees causes an accident.

PedestriansVicarious Liability

As a general rule, an employer is responsible for the negligent acts of an employee, if the act is during and within the scope of employment. The idea is that the employee is carrying out the business of the employer, so it is only fair to allow anyone injured as a result of the employee’s negligence to seek compensation not just from the employee, but also the employer.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was serious injured when he was struck by another car as a result of a collision caused by a county public defender (the “public defender”). While the county did not state that the public defender needed a have a car, practically speaking it was not possible for him to perform the functions of his job without a car. For example, the public defender had to attend various courthouses across the county, visit clients in prison, and investigate crime scenes.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to interpret an insurance policy to determine if the policy provided uninsured motorist (UIM) protection to a man who was killed by an uninsured driver. Ultimately, the court concluded that the decedent’s employer’s insurance policy did not provide UIM coverage to the decedent and, thus, rejected the plaintiff’s claim.

Insurance ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was the estate of a man who was killed when he was struck by a driver who was high on methamphetamine while he was riding his personal lawnmower. The at-fault driver was not insured.

The estate of the decedent filed a UIM claim under the decedent’s employer’s insurance policy, which contained coverage for UIM benefits. Specifically, that clause stated that UIM benefits under the policy extended to “you or others we protect.” The estate argued that the term “others we protect” included the decedent.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an important issue that potential Maryland product liability plaintiffs should understand. The plaintiff in the case was seriously injured when the rear glass door of a truck bed cover fell onto his head unexpectedly. The court had to determine if the manufacturer of the truck bed cover could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Shattered GlassThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a fire department, which owned a pick-up truck. The fire department purchased a truck bed cover for one of the department’s vehicles, which consisted of a hard-top cover for the bed and a glass rear door to access the bed when the truck’s pick-up gate was open.

One day, the plaintiff went to retrieve some items from inside the bed of the truck. He lifted the glass door and leaned in. However, as he retrieved the items, the glass door fell onto his head, causing serious injuries.

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It may seem obvious, but a Maryland or Virginia car accident can cause serious, life-altering injuries to those involved. In most cases, the at-fault party will have liability insurance that will kick in to compensate the accident victims for the injuries they sustained in the accident. However, once the at-fault driver’s liability policy maximum is met, the accident victims will only be able to rely on whatever personal assets the at-fault party has. This may still leave accident victims without full compensation for serious injuries.

Wrecked CarEvery insurance policy that is issued in Maryland is required to provide un/underinsured motorist (UIM) protection to the insured. In the event of a serious Maryland car accident where the at-fault party’s liability coverage is insufficient to cover the costs of an accident victim’s injuries, the accident victim’s UIM policy will kick in, covering the remaining uncovered portion.

In Maryland, all motorists are required to obtain the following liability and UIM coverage amounts:

  • $30,000 to cover bodily injury to one person;
  • $60,000 to cover bodily injury to two people; and
  • $15,000 to cover damage to property.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit brought against an insurance company by the insured. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s eight-month delay in reporting the accident to her insurance company excused the insurance company from covering the accident under a clause that the insured must “immediately” notify the insurance company after an accident. Sometimes these issues arise in Maryland car accident cases as well.

stop watchUltimately, the court concluded that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff failed to immediately notify the insurance company. However, since her failure to provide notice may have been excused, the court determined that the case should proceed toward trial for a jury to make that determination.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The car the plaintiff was driving at the time was owned by her ex-husband, who had a policy with the defendant insurance company.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a used car that was allegedly sold without a muffler, which, according to the plaintiffs, caused their carbon monoxide poisoning. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense, and thus, the lower court was wrong to have granted the motion.

MufflerThis case presents an important issue for those who have been injured in a Maryland car accident and believe the accident was caused in part by a missing or defective vehicle component.

The Facts of the Case

A couple bought a used car from the defendant dealership. The car, which had been received by the defendant dealership as a trade-in, had 180,000 miles on it and had a number of mechanical problems. However, the salesperson for the defendant did not note that the car was missing a muffler.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating why it is so important for Maryland car accident victims to always remain on the right side of the line between being a zealous advocate and misleading the court. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a trial court is proper in dismissing a plaintiff’s case for providing misleading answers during the discovery process. Ultimately, the court found that the plaintiff’s answers were intended to “subvert the judicial” process, and therefore, it affirmed the dismissal of his case.

X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with the defendant. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained injuries to his back, neck, and shoulder. He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for his injuries.

During pre-trial discovery, the plaintiff was presented with a list of questions to answer. Several of the questions asked whether the plaintiff had sustained injuries to his head, neck, or shoulder in the past. The plaintiff indicated that he had not. However, when the defendant asked the plaintiff to sign a medical release waiver, he refused.

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In a recent appellate decision, a Maryland court held that a plaintiff-passenger who is injured in an accident cannot be precluded from recovering compensation for her injuries based on the fact that the driver she allowed to drive her car was negligent. In so holding, the court explained that it did not make sense to apply the doctrine of imputed negligence in a situation such as the one presented in the case.

Dark StreetThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident while a passenger in her own car. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff’s husband had parked the car near the entrance to a restaurant and had run in to pick up the couple’s take-out order. As the plaintiff was waiting in the car, the defendant backed up into the plaintiff’s vehicle as she was sitting in the passenger seat.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that he was negligent in causing the accident. The defendant argued that the plaintiff should be precluded from recovering for her injuries because the negligence of her husband in improperly parking the car should be imputed to the plaintiff, as the owner of the vehicle.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving a plaintiff’s attempt to hold a bar responsible for the actions of a drunk driver under the theory that the bar was negligent in serving the at-fault driver to the point of intoxication. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence of the establishment’s negligence for a jury to hear the case.

Behind the BarThe case presents an interesting and developing issue under Maryland personal injury law in that, prior to 2016, third parties could not be held liable for serving alcohol to someone who later went on to cause a car accident. However, in a landmark case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that an accident victim can hold those responsible who served a minor alcohol if it contributed to a subsequent drunk driving accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was rear-ended while driving with her two children. The driver who rear-ended her was determined to be under the influence of alcohol. That driver was cited for driving under the influence. As it turns out, the driver was returning from a work event at a local bar. After the accident, the woman reported feeling “buzzed” to police. The officer noted that the woman had bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech.

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While car insurance is supposed to assist Maryland car accident victims in getting back on their feet after an accident, the unfortunate reality is that insurance companies are often looking for ways to get out of paying up. However, an insurance policy is a legally binding contract, whereby the insurance company agrees to pay for an accident victim’s costs related to covered claims.

Logging TruckThus, when an insurance company refuses to pay out on a claim, or it only offers a low-ball settlement offer that does not cover an accident victim’s costs, the accident victim has the right to ask a court to compel the insurance company to pay. When courts are confronted with these cases, they usually start by reading the policy language and determining if the claim was covered.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties one accident victim had when filing an uninsured motorist claim based on injuries that occurred while operating a vehicle that was furnished for his everyday use.

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