Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the difficulties that Maryland car accident victims may encounter when trying to file a claim against their own insurance policy’s underinsured motorist provision. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s untimely notice of claim violated the language in the insurance policy, and if so, whether the insurance company was proper in denying the plaintiff’s claim. Ultimately, the court found in favor of the insurance company on both issues and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.

StopwatchThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured after she was involved in a car accident while she was a passenger in a friend’s vehicle. The accident occurred in September 2010. Approximately two years later, the plaintiff filed a claim against the other driver, who she claimed was responsible for the accident and her injuries. That claim was eventually settled for approximately $36,000, which was the remaining amount left under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy after the other victims of the accident had been compensated.

The settlement with the other driver failed to cover all of the plaintiff’s expenses related to the accident, so the plaintiff then filed a claim with her own insurance policy, under the underinsured motorist provision. That policy contained language requiring that the insurance company be promptly notified of any accident, as well as any court case that was filed. Specifically, the policy stated that the insurance company “must be notified promptly of how, when and where the accident or loss happened,” and the insured must “promptly send us copies of the legal papers if a suit is brought.”

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Due to Maryland’s small size and healthy economy, many people who work in Maryland live outside the state and commute into Maryland on a daily basis. As a natural result, some Maryland car accidents will involve out-of-state motorists. While this may not necessarily present a problem for an accident victim, there are several potential issues that should be considered to avoid a problem down the road.

US MapA recent opinion from a Georgia court illustrates the potential problems that an accident victim who is injured in an accident caused by an out-of-state motorist may face when seeking compensation for their injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a Georgia resident who was attending school in California. Her car was registered and insured in Georgia. One day while driving in California, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with another motorist. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the other motorist.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving allegations against a local government responsible for maintaining a section of road where the plaintiff was involved in an accident. The case explores an interesting issue for Maryland car accident victims who are considering filing a case against a local or state government agency. Specifically, the case involves the issue of whether the government entity had notice of the hazard alleged to have caused the plaintiff’s accident and subsequent injuries.

Rough RoadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle after he lost control of his car after running over a section of broken pavement surrounding a manhole cover. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city that was in charge of maintaining that specific portion of roadway. The plaintiff did not claim that the city was negligent in constructing or repairing the damaged road; the plaintiff’s only claim was that the city was negligent in failing to fix the hazard.

One of the required elements of this type of claim is that the plaintiff must establish that the defendant had notice of the hazard. Otherwise, courts will not find that the defendant had a duty to repair the damaged road. In support of his case, the plaintiff presented photographs of the damaged road that were taken two weeks after the accident. The plaintiff argued that this showed that the government would have had knowledge of the damage.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nebraska issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit that illustrates the importance of choosing a diligent and knowledgeable Maryland personal injury attorney. The case involved the parties’ disagreement over whether certain expert testimony presented by the plaintiff should be considered by the jury. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court was proper when it precluded the testimony based on the plaintiff’s failure to disclose the substance of the expert’s testimony during discovery.

Day PlannerThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident involving the daughter of the defendants. Forty months after the accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants. In response, the defendants did not dispute that their daughter was negligent in causing the accident, but they argued that the accident was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The plaintiff was slow to prosecute the case, taking several continuances and missing several deadlines. At least some of the delay was due to health issues the plaintiff’s attorney was confronting during the pendency of the case. Ultimately, the plaintiff retained new counsel, who also had to withdraw due to medical reasons.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion discussing whether a private company that had contracted with a city to maintain back-up battery power for traffic lights could be held liable for an accident that occurred during a power outage. The case presents interesting issues that are relevant for all Maryland car accident victims who are considering filing a claim for damages against the parties they believe to be responsible for the accident that caused their injuries.

Traffic LightThe Facts of the Case

Back in 2004, the City of Glendale installed back-up battery packs in all of the city’s traffic lights so that when there was a power outage, the lights would continue to be operational. A few years later, the city contracted with the defendant, a private company, to perform all necessary maintenance on the back-up battery system.

In 2011, the traffic light at one specific intersection began showing “low voltage” indicators. For whatever reason, the battery packs were not holding a charge. In August of that year, new battery packs were installed, but no batteries were placed in the units.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued an opinion in a personal injury case that may be of interest to Maryland car accident victims who are considering filing a claim against an insurance company. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s failure to comply with a contractual term in her insurance contract barred her from recovering on her claim. The court explained that the insurance company’s position was correct; however, since it did not raise the issue in a timely manner, the court considered the company’s objections waived.

Insurance ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident that was caused by a driver who did not have adequate insurance to cover the injuries the plaintiff sustained in the accident. However, the plaintiff was covered by two other insurance policies:  her mother’s policy with Allstate and her father’s policy with Geico. The Allstate policy had underinsured motorist protection of $25,000; the Geico policy’s protection offered $20,000.

The plaintiff filed a claim only with the Allstate policy, claiming that the insurance company should cover her expenses that were not covered by the at-fault driver’s policy. When she filed her claim, the plaintiff averred that all necessary conditions had been satisfied.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that applies a principle of law also seen in Maryland car accident cases. The case required the court to discuss and apply the “fireman’s rule,” which may act to prevent emergency responders from recovering compensation from those whose negligent acts necessitated their services. Ultimately, the Georgia court determined that the facts as presented fit within the fireman’s rule, and it dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

LawnmowerThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a law enforcement officer who was injured while responding to a car accident. The court’s version of the facts showed that the defendant, a used car dealership, mowed the lawn surrounding the dealership and failed to clean up the clippings. The clippings then blew into the roadway. Shortly afterward, it began to rain.

The wet clippings made the roadway slick, and a motorist was involved in a collision. The plaintiff and another law enforcement officer received a radio call for assistance. As the plaintiff was responding to the scene of the accident, he lost control of the vehicle when he encountered the wet grass clippings.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Arizona issued a written opinion in a car accident case, illustrating the importance of abiding by all procedural court rules as well as naming the proper parties at the outset of a case. The case acts as an important reminder to car accident victims that there is no substitute for a knowledgeable and dedicated personal injury attorney to assist in the preparation of a Maryland car accident case.

Car AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a driver who was insured by the defendant insurance company. After the accident, the responding police officer provided the plaintiff with the at-fault driver’s name and insurance information. One day before the two-year statute of limitations expired, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for the injuries she sustained in the crash. The plaintiff’s lawsuit claimed that the insurance company “intentionally delayed, postponed, or otherwise disregarded the resolution of this matter; at times providing false information.”

In the state where the case was filed, accident victims do not have a right to file a lawsuit directly against an insurance company; the claim must be filed against the driver. The defendant insurance company objected to it being named as a defendant, and the plaintiff withdrew the case so that she could name the at-fault driver as a defendant and remove the driver’s insurance company.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion that presented an interesting legal issue that may be of interest to Maryland car accident victims. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether an accident victim should be able to seek compensation for her injuries against the insurance company of the at-fault motorist when that motorist had subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s claim was not barred and allowed her claim against the insurance company to proceed.

SUV AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was the surviving husband of a woman who was injured in a car accident and then subsequently died. There was conflicting evidence as to whether the woman’s death was related to the accident; however, the husband’s claim asserted that the at-fault driver was at least liable for his wife’s injuries, and potentially for her wrongful death. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver as well as the insurance companies for both drivers.

After the lawsuit was filed, but before the case was resolved, the at-fault driver filed for bankruptcy. As a part of the bankruptcy proceeding, the pending case against the driver would be dismissed. The plaintiff’s own insurance company then sought dismissal of the case against it as well, arguing that since the plaintiff no longer had a right to recover from the at-fault driver, the insurance company could no longer be held liable. In support of its claim, the insurance company pointed to a pertinent state law stating that a plaintiff can only seek insurance benefits from an insurer if he is “legally entitled to recover damages” from the at-fault party.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that illustrates the kinds of difficulties that Maryland car accident victims routinely face when filing claims against an insurance company following an accident. The decision issued by the court held that the plaintiffs were only entitled to $250,000, which was the limit under their single insurance policy, despite the plaintiffs’ claim that they had two policies with the insurance company.

Insurance ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of two people who were killed in a tragic car accident. The driver responsible for the accident had insufficient insurance coverage to compensate the plaintiffs for their loss, so they filed a claim with their own insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision. The insurance company paid the plaintiffs $250,000, which was the maximum under the policy.

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