Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

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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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Hawaii issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by the occupants of a vehicle that was struck by rocks that fell onto the highway during a rock slide.

RockslideThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were driving on a Hawaii highway when a rock slide occurred, and debris contained in the slide struck their vehicle. At the time, Hawaii had a system to rate various roads that are at risk of being affected by rock slides. The area where the plaintiffs were injured was known as an area with the highest risk level. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the government was negligent in failing to address the area and implement measures to prevent a slide from occurring.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the government, finding that while the government was negligent, the government’s negligence was not the cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to show that had the government taken action, the slide would have been prevented. The court also determined that the government was entitled to immunity because the decision to have a rock-slide mitigation system was a discretionary one. The plaintiff appealed.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued an interesting opinion in a car accident case that required the court to determine whether the instructions provided to the jury by the trial judge were appropriate under the circumstances. Ultimately, the court concluded that the provided instruction was proper and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Rental CarThe Facts of the Case

A rental car company rented a car to a woman while her car was in the shop. The woman lived in her parents’ house, with about 10 to 12 others, most of which were family. According to the woman, she kept the keys in her locked room. However, another witness testified that she kept the keys on the kitchen counter.

One day, a man who was dating one of the other residents in the home took the woman’s car keys, got in the car, and drove to the store. On the way, he struck the plaintiff, who was riding a motorcycle at the time. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the car, the woman who rented it, and the company that owned the car.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in South Carolina issued an interesting opinion in a case brought by a man who was injured when he was involved in an accident while driving a GM vehicle. The case required the court to determine if a plaintiff’s own negligence in causing their injuries is relevant when the plaintiff files a product liability claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer. Ultimately, the court concluded that a plaintiff’s own potential negligence is not relevant to the inquiry and should not be considered.

Old TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger in a 1987 Chevy Pick-up truck that was being driven by a friend. The evidence presented at trial suggested that the two had smoked synthetic marijuana earlier in the day. At one point, the driver of the pick-up failed to stop at a stop sign, and the vehicle was struck by another truck towing a horse trailer. The pick-up truck burst into flames after the collision. The driver of the vehicle died, and the plaintiff was seriously injured.

The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against GM, the manufacturer of the pick-up truck, arguing that the placement of the gas tank caused the fire. Importantly, the plaintiff was only seeking compensation for his enhanced burn injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a case involving a motorcyclist who was killed after he fell off his motorcycle and was struck by a car. At issue in the case was whether the man’s insurance coverage was triggered. The lower court determined that it was not, but on appeal, the court held that there were material issues that should be submitted to a jury for resolution.

Suit on MotorcycleThe Facts of the Case

The accident victim was riding his motorcycle when a garbage can fell off a truck and got stuck in the wheel of his motorcycle. The man lost control of the motorcycle, fell off, and rolled to a stop in an adjacent lane. Before he could get up, he was struck by a passing vehicle.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. It could not be determined whether he died as a result of falling off the motorcycle onto the pavement, or whether he survived the initial fall and was killed when he was struck by the passing motorist.

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Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a product liability case involving the question of which types of damages are appropriate when a party acts in bad faith during the discovery process. Ultimately, the court concluded that damages to compensate the plaintiff for actual costs incurred are appropriate, but punitive damages may not be awarded by the court.

Tire TreadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were involved in a serious accident when their motor home swerved off the road and flipped over. At the time of the accident, the plaintiffs’ motor home was equipped with Goodyear tires. The plaintiffs filed a product liability lawsuit against Goodyear, claiming that the tire was not safe for motorhome applications because it was not designed to withstand the amount of heat generated when driven at highway speeds.

The pre-trial discovery process lasted for several years. Goodyear was slow to respond to many discovery requests. Specifically, the plaintiffs repeatedly asked Goodyear to hand over the internal test results for the model of tire installed on the motor home, but the information released by the company failed to include any of the requested information.

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