Articles Posted in Weather Related Accidents

Earlier this week, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an auto accident case, affirming a jury verdict in favor of the defense. In the case, Marshall v. Peter, the jury determined that the defendant was not negligent when he ran into the back end of the plaintiff’s vehicle as both drivers were stopped at an intersection. The appellate court determined that reasonable jurors could have found that the defendant’s conduct was not negligent, and therefore it affirmed the verdict below.

Winter RoadThe Facts of the Case

Marshall was stopped in first position at an intersection, waiting for a green signal. When the signal changed to green, she started to proceed into the intersection with the defendant behind her. The defendant had removed his foot off the brake pedal, but he had not yet depressed the gas pedal when he noticed that Marshall’s car had stopped. He tried to brake but slid on the ice and collided with the rear end of Marshall’s vehicle.

Marshall filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, claiming he was negligent in causing the collision. Marshall was seeking over $200,000 in economic and non-economic damages. The case was submitted to a jury, and it was decided the driver was not negligent. In a post-trial motion, Marshall asked the judge to override the jury’s verdict because “no reasonable juror” could have found that the defendant was not negligent.

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Workers’ compensation is a program that is designed to compensate workers who are injured while on the job. In order to qualify for the program, an employer must meet certain criteria. If these criteria are met, an employee who is injured or killed while on the job may be required to seek compensation through the workers’ compensation program. However, if an employer fails to meet the necessary criteria, a personal injury case will not be barred, and an injured party may pursue a claim against their employer. A recent case illustrates how these cases proceed through the court system.

Snowy RoadKay v. Wiggins:  The Facts

Wiggins ran a furniture business. On the side, he would move Budget rental trucks from one location to another for extra income. Kay was an employee of Wiggins, who would help out both with the furniture business and also with the truck-relocation project. On the day in question, Wiggins asked Kay to relocate a truck. Because of inclement weather, Kay was reluctant. Wiggins told Kay that if the truck was not moved on that evening, it would have to be moved the next morning.

That next morning, Kay arrived, planning to relocate the truck. However, on the way to his destination, he was involved in an accident that claimed his life. Kay’s estate sued Wiggins, arguing that he was at least in part responsible for Kay’s death. In response, Wiggins asked the court to dismiss the case and showed the court documentation that he was in compliance with the state’s workers’ compensation program. Kay provided nothing to rebut this evidence.

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The State Supreme Court of Maine recently affirmed a lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of a truck rental company and an employer after an employee who was driving the truck was killed when the van slid off an icy road. About a year and a half after the fatal accident, the estate of the victim brought a lawsuit against the rental company and the driver’s employer. Both parties moved to dismiss the case and argued that they did not breach a duty owed to the employee, they did not proximately cause the employee’s death, and they were not vicariously liable for his death.

Truck in SnowThe lower court agreed and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff’s estate then appealed. However, in a recently released opinion, the higher court agreed with the court below and concluded that they did not need to determine the specific and actual nature of the relationship between the two defendants because the plaintiffs did not present evidence to show that they were responsible.

Employer Responsibility and Liability in Maryland Personal Injury Lawsuits

In certain situations, a person may be actually injured by one party, but another party or entity may also be proximately liable. Essentially, proximate liability means that although a party may not have actually caused the injury, they engaged in some behavior that led to the injury or accident. A common situation in which this arises is when an employee is injured or causes an injury while they are performing a duty in the scope of their employment.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alaska issued a written opinion holding that a lower court erred when it denied the plaintiff the opportunity to submit evidence of the payments made by the defendant’s insurance company to the plaintiff to help establish the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries. In the case, Luther v. Lander, the court determined that the insurance payments to the plaintiff were relevant to the determination of how serious the plaintiff’s injuries were.

Snowy RoadThe Facts of the Case

Back in 2010, the defendant’s vehicle slipped on some ice and rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle. At first, the plaintiff did not notice any serious injury, but as time went on, she realized that she had lingering pain in her back and buttocks. She eventually sought medical care but did so in a very conservative manner, seeking only non-invasive, physical therapy-type treatment.

About two years later, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit against the defendant, seeking compensation for her injuries. However, throughout the trial, the defense evidence seemed to indicate that the plaintiff’s injuries were minor and that she was making them seem more serious than they were.

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