Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

Car accidents often result in serious, lifelong injuries that can change an accident victim’s life. There are almost limitless causes of Maryland road accidents, ranging from the common to the obscure. A recent state appellate decision discusses a situation that, while may seem to be uncommon, is actually responsible for more accidents than most motorists believe.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was driving along the highway when a mattress suddenly flew towards her car. The plaintiff veered to avoid hitting the mattress, crashing into a barrier. Eyewitnesses obtained the license plate of the truck that was carrying the mattress, and  police eventually found the driver towing a flatbed trailer.

The driver offered varying explanations regarding the mattress. Essentially, he claimed that there “may” have been a mattress in the trailer but he wasn’t sure. He explained that there was a bunch of items in the trailer the day before, and that he had told an employee to empty the items in the trailer. The defendant acknowledged that, at one point, there was a mattress, but he did not check the trailer that morning, so he wasn’t sure if it was still there. The defendant also stated that he did not see anything fly off the back of the trailer.

The goal of a Maryland car accident lawsuit is to award the victim of the accident financial compensation for the injuries they sustained in the accident. However, sometimes, determining who is the victim is not an easy task. While some accidents present straightforward situations pointing to one or more parties being at fault, other accidents are much more complicated. In either case, conducting an in-depth investigation is a crucial step in filing a personal injury lawsuit.

A few basic facts that should be a part of any Maryland car accident investigation include:

  • the location and time of the accident;

One of an injury victim’s most important considerations when filing a Maryland car accident claim is which parties to name as defendants. Generally speaking, an injury victim should include all potentially liable parties in a case to avoid one of the named parties from shifting liability onto a non-present party. This could have the effect of reducing a plaintiff’s total recovery amount, or even preventing a plaintiff from recovering for their injuries altogether.

Of course, the most obvious defendant in a Maryland car accident lawsuit is the other driver. However, it is important for Maryland accident victims to realize that individual motorists rarely have sufficient assets to fully compensate a plaintiff for their injuries they have sustained in a serious accident. While insurance coverage can help to cover a damages award, many motorists only carry the minimum amount of insurance which, in Maryland, is just $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident. Of course, the amount of damages in a serious Maryland car accident often far exceeds these figures.

By naming additional parties as defendants, a plaintiff increases their chances of being able to collect on any award they receive. This is especially the case when an added defendant is a business or government entity. For this reason, perhaps the most commonly named party other than the at-fault driver is the at-fault driver’s employer.

When an accident victim is injured due to the negligence of another person, the injured party can pursue a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the party or parties she believes are responsible for her injuries. To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the named defendants were legally negligent.

The standard used by courts to determine whether a defendant acted negligently will depend on a variety of factors. For example, Maryland law generally imposes a duty on all motorists to drive carefully and in accordance with all applicable traffic laws. On the other hand, Maryland premises liability law may only impose a duty on a landowner not to willfully or maliciously cause a visitor harm.

Most Maryland personal injury cases involve just one standard; however, it is not uncommon for the parties to argue over which standard applies. A recent case illustrates how important the determination of the legal standard can be to a personal injury case.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion explaining how the collateral source doctrine is applied under Virginia personal injury law. The case actually involved a breach-of-contract claim, however, in answering whether the collateral source doctrine applied to breach-of-contract claims, the court thoroughly explained the collateral source doctrine, its origins, and how it applies in Virginia personal injury accidents.

In this case, the claim was between a power plant and contractor what was paid to perform certain work at the power plant. According to the court’s opinion, there was a boiler accident at the power plant that resulted in the deaths of three workers. The families of the deceased workers filed claims against the power plant, the contractor, and several other parties.

Evidently, there was a contract between the power plant and the contractor that required the contractor to obtain certain insurance coverage. However, the contractor did not purchase the specified insurance coverage. Nonetheless, after the power plant paid out nearly $5 million to settle the cases, and incurred nearly $10 million in legal fees, the power plant was fully reimbursed by all available insurance policies. However, the power plant pursued a breach-of-contract claim against the contractor, arguing that it failed to obtain the specified insurance. The court had to determine if the power plant could pursue such a claim, given the fact that it had undisputedly already recovered for the total costs of defending and settling the lawsuit.

When someone is seriously injured in a Maryland car accident, it is imperative that they receive immediate medical treatment. In some cases, waiting to provide an accident victim medical assistance until they arrive at the hospital may increase the risk of further injury or death. Maryland emergency responders (EMTs) are often in a position to provide interim medical treatment at the scene. However, sometimes EMTs are negligent, make the wrong decision, or act recklessly in providing care to accident victims and end up exacerbating a victim’s injuries.

When an EMT’s negligence results in an accident victim’s further injury, the accident victim may be able to pursue a Maryland personal injury claim against the EMT. However, lawmakers want to encourage qualified providers who find themselves in a position to assist the victims of serious accidents. Thus, under Maryland law, certain EMTs, firefighters, and other rescue workers may be immune from liability.

Maryland Code section 5-603 discusses when emergency medical providers are entitled to immunity. Specifically, the law states that a qualified medical provider is not liable for any act or omission related to assistance or medical care they provided if:

In Maryland, all motorists are required to maintain auto insurance. The purpose of requiring motorists to obtain car insurance is to ensure that, in the event of an accident, accident victims have an avenue of recovery to help them recover the costs associated with the accident.

An insurance contract is like any other contract. The insured pays a monthly premium and in exchange, the insurance company provides insurance. An insurance contract is a lengthy legal document, and the details of an insurance policy are typically complex. Among the many issues covered by an insurance contract, the document will explain the situations in which insurance coverage applies, the process by which the insured must file a claim, as well as the obligations of the insurance company to investigate the claim.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion discussing an insurance company’s obligation to settle a meritorious claim that is within a policy’s limits. Ultimately, the court concluded that although an insurance company does have a duty to settle a claim that is within the policy limits, this duty is only triggered by the insured making an offer to settle. If you have questions about insurance pay-outs after an accident, reach out to a dedicated Maryland car accident attorney without delay.

Continue reading ›

Insurance companies want to minimize the amount they pay out in the event of a claim, and unfortunately, do not always compensate Maryland car accident victims according to what they deserve. If an insurer fails to fairly settle a claim, the insured may be able to pursue a claim of bad faith against the insurer. In a recent case before a state appeals court, the state found the plaintiff could pursue a claim of bad faith against GEICO after it failed to timely pay her insurance claim.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was in a car accident and suffered serious injuries. Another driver caused the car crash, and both she and the other driver were insured by GEICO. The plaintiff made a claim under the driver’s insurance coverage, as well as under her own insurance plan for underinsured motorist (UM) benefits.

After the plaintiff did not receive payment on the claims, she sued the driver and GEICO. GEICO then paid the plaintiff the maximum benefits under the at-fault driver’s policy, but refused to pay the plaintiff benefits under her UM policy. The plaintiff then filed a civil remedy notice (CRN) with the Department of Financial Services, and mailed GEICO a copy. GEICO subsequently agreed to pay the plaintiff her full UM benefits, but the plaintiff’s lawyer did not receive the check and release until almost three weeks later. This was 65 days after the CRN was filed with the Department of Financial Services.

Continue reading ›

When an employee causes a Maryland car accident, anyone injured as a result of the accident may be able to pursue a claim against both the negligent driver and their employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior. However, to establish employer liability in a Maryland car accident, the plaintiff must be able to show that the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident.

A recent decision issued by a state appellate court shows how claims against an employer can be proven, and the type of evidence that may be helpful pursuing such a claim.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a pedestrian who was struck by a GMC truck as she was attempting to cross the street. Evidently, the driver of the truck (“the employee”) was an employee of the defendant HVAC company. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the employee as well as the defendant HVAC company, claiming that the company was responsible for the employee’s negligent acts because they were made while he was acting within the scope of his employment.

Continue reading ›

Under Maryland law, a party in a personal injury lawsuit may present testimony from an expert witness only in certain circumstances. That being the case, expert witnesses do not testify in most Maryland car accidents. However, there are cases where the need for an expert witness arises. Typically, this is when a case presents complex medical or scientific issues that are beyond the scope of a typical juror’s understanding. A recent case illustrates a situation in which the court held that the plaintiff’s claim required the testimony of an expert witness.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a chain reaction car accident. Evidently, one motorist collided with another driver, whose vehicle then struck the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff was transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released later that day. The record does not indicate the treatment that the plaintiff received at the hospital.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against two of the other drivers involved in the accident. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged injuries to his neck, head, back, right foot, right ankle, right hip, both shoulders, and both knees.” The plaintiff presented the testimony of medical experts to establish the extent of his injuries.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information