Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Few experiences behind the wheel are more terrifying than being on the wrong end of another driver’s road rage. While road rage may not be listed as a primary cause of Maryland car accidents, aggressive driving is more common than most motorists believe. For example, in 2015, there were approximately 3,300 Maryland car accidents caused by aggressive driving. Of those, someone was injured in over 1,200 of the crashes.

A Maryland driver can lose their temper and enter a state of road rage for any number of reasons. Even the slightest perceived infraction can send an already stressed motorist over the edge. This raises the question: who can be held liable in a Maryland road rage accident?

Aside from the enraged driver who caused the accident – who is an obvious choice – other potentially liable parties may include passengers in the at-fault driver’s car or other motorists on the road who may have contributed to the accident. A recent case illustrates that it isn’t just the person behind the wheel who can be at fault for an incident of road rage.

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In the wake of a serious Maryland car accident, accident victims face many difficulties. Of course, these include overcoming the physical and emotional injuries that come along with being involved in a serious accident. However, even after an accident victim has physically recovered as best they can, before they can obtain compensation for their injuries they will likely have to deal with one or more insurance companies.

While Maryland car insurance is required by law and, in theory, operates to the benefit of Maryland accident victims. In reality, insurance companies are for-profit corporations that are motivated by their bottom line. To remain profitable, insurance companies must make more in monthly premiums than they pay out in claims. Thus, insurance companies routinely dispute motorists’ claims or attempt to settle them for as little as possible. A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court illustrates the difficulties a motorist had when trying to file a claim under an underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance policy.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident that was allegedly caused by another driver. The at-fault driver had insufficient insurance coverage to adequately compensate the plaintiff for the injuries he sustained in the accident. The also plaintiff had two insurance policies, one with Allstate as well as a UIM policy with the defendant insurance company.

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While governments may be entitled to immunity in some car accidents that are based on a negligent-design theory, the government can still be held liable for failing to safely maintain a road or highway. However, the distinction between design and maintenance is not always clear-cut. For example, consider the following:

  • A turn with visibility obstructed by large trees or rocks;
  • An intersection with misleading or improperly marked signage;
  • Malfunctioning traffic lights;
  • Dangerous potholes or unmarked hazards; and
  • Landscaping that obscures motorists’ vision of an intersection or oncoming traffic

A Maryland car accident victim who is injured in an accident that was caused by any of the above scenarios may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the government agency responsible for maintaining the road. A recent state appellate decision discusses one plaintiff’s case against a local government agency based on the road’s dangerous condition.

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