Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises an interesting issue that frequently comes up in Maryland car accident cases. The case required the court to determine if a jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant was proper, given that the defendant admitted to causing the accident and that the accident caused the plaintiff “some injury” but denied the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s claimed injuries.

Minor CollisionUltimately, the court concluded that the defendant’s “admission” was limited and that the issues of causation and damages were still at issue. Thus, the jury was acting within its discretion to find in favor of the defendant.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident when the defendant failed to yield while making a left turn. The plaintiff claimed that she suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant.

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In the moments after a Maryland car accident, emotions are running high, and adrenaline is pumping. For these reasons, a motorist’s statements in the immediate aftermath of an accident may not be accurate or complete. However, as a recent case illustrates, statements made at any time after an accident may be used against the person making them, even if they later disavow the statement.

Wrecked CarThe Facts of the Case

In 2015, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a driver who was not insured. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, but since he did not have insurance, the plaintiff also named her father’s insurance company as a party to the lawsuit, relying on the policy’s uninsured motorist protection.

The insurance company sent a list of questions to the plaintiff, called an interrogatory. One of the questions contained in the interrogatory asked who lived with the plaintiff. The plaintiff responded that she lived with her three children. Later, in a deposition, the plaintiff stated that she lived across the street from her father.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Maryland car accident case requiring the court to discuss and interpret Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-703, dealing with the admissibility of expert witness testimony. Specifically, the court had to determine whether the plaintiff’s medical records that were relied upon by a defense expert witness could be provided to the jury during deliberations. Ultimately, the court concluded that under the language of Rule 5-703, admissibility was permitted.

Wrecked CarThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident while on the way to a wedding. After the accident, the plaintiff attended the wedding, and she went to the hospital the following morning. The plaintiff saw a number of doctors and eventually was diagnosed with several serious medical conditions. However, in the plaintiff’s discussion with the doctors, the plaintiff was not consistent in reporting where she was experiencing pain.

The plaintiff later filed a personal injury case against the driver who caused the accident. At trial, both the plaintiff and the defendant presented expert witnesses on the issue of whether the collision was what caused the plaintiff’s injuries. After the defense expert witness testified that the accident was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, the defendant moved to introduce four of the plaintiff’s medical records to the jury. These medical records, the defendant believed, contradicted some of the plaintiff’s claims.

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Taxis are a thing of the past. Or at least that is what companies like Uber and Lyft hope will soon be the case. Uber and Lyft are companies that have created similar applications that allow passengers to get picked up and delivered to their destination by non-employee, independent contractors who are then paid a percentage of the fare by the company. From a passenger’s perspective, the apps operate much like a traditional taxi service in that passengers will hail a ride through the app, a driver arrives to pick the passenger up, and then the driver delivers the passenger to their destination.

Cell PhoneThere are no special qualifications that are required to drive for these companies, other than being over 21 years of age, maintaining car insurance on the vehicle, and having a clean driving record. With the popularity of Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare apps increasing over the past few years, as well as the potential for inexperienced motorists acting as taxi drivers, it is natural that we are seeing an increase in Maryland car accidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers.

Rideshare companies are known for having a hefty insurance policy that protects passengers and drivers in the event of an accident. However, not all accidents involving an Uber or Lyft driver will be covered. It is easiest to understand the available coverage by breaking down each stage in a ride.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a negligence case involving the alleged misplacement of a construction barrel by the state’s department of transportation. The case contains a discussion about the duties of a government to keep public roads safe, which is important for Maryland car accident victims who have been injured due to the poor condition of a public road.

Construction BarrelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving along an Idaho highway towing a trailer. The plaintiff entered a construction zone, and there were orange barrels lined up along both sides of the only lane of travel that was open to motorists. As the plaintiff continued down the highway, she noticed a barrel was placed directly in the lane of travel. Unable to avoid the barrel, the plaintiff struck the barrel with the awning of her trailer.

Thankfully, the plaintiff was not injured and only sustained somewhat minor property damage to her trailer. However, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the state’s department of transportation, claiming that it was negligent in the placement of the barrel and should be responsible for the repair costs to the trailer.

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An insurance company can be a Maryland car accident victim’s best friend or worst enemy. While the stated purpose of insurance is to compensate a claimant for losses that occur due to a covered incident, in practice, insurance companies view most claims with an eye toward denial. This is because insurance companies are for-profit companies that rely on taking in more money in premiums than they pay out in claims.

TimerThat being the case, insurance contracts are often written in a way that gives the insurance company many “loopholes” to get out of satisfying even a meritorious claim. For example, almost all insurance policies have strict notice requirements that require an accident victim to provide the company with notice of the accident within a certain amount of time. The way that insurance contracts are written, if an accident victim fails to provide timely notice, the insurance company is not bound by the terms of the agreement and can deny an otherwise valid claim.

A recent case illustrates the frustration one motorist experienced when trying to recover compensation for his injuries after a car accident. While the case arose in Georgia, it illustrates an important point for Maryland car accident victims.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case requiring the court to determine if the lower court was proper in precluding the plaintiff from cross-examining an eyewitness to the accident. The case is important to Maryland car accident victims because the rule of evidence at issue in the case is very similar to Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-613.

Crossing the StreetThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when she was struck by the defendant’s car while crossing the street at an unmarked crosswalk. There was only one witness to the accident. However, the defendant hired an expert witness and also planned on calling the responding police officers to testify at trial.

Before trial, the plaintiff filed a motion to prevent the police officers from discussing what the eyewitness told them at the scene, claiming that such testimony would be inadmissible hearsay. The court agreed and limited the officers’ testimony only to what they personally observed.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that illustrates an important concept in Maryland car accident cases. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss which level of proof is sufficient to support a jury’s award of compensation to an accident victim. Ultimately, the court concluded that the jury’s verdict regarding future medical expenses was based on the evidence, but the verdict insofar as it pertained to the plaintiff’s loss of wages was not.

CourtroomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident that was undisputedly caused by the defendant. The plaintiff’s injuries were severe, and the plaintiff had an expert witness testify on her behalf. The expert expressed a need for palliative care, cervical surgery, and potentially lumbar surgery.

The expert explained that the estimated cost of palliative care was between $525,000 and $850,000. The expert also explained that cervical surgery would improve the plaintiff’s quality of life, and he recommended the surgery be performed. The expert testified that such a surgery may prevent the need for lumbar surgery. The cervical surgery was estimated to cost between $90,000 and $120,000, and the lumbar surgery was estimated to cost between $60,000 and $90,000.

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Earlier last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of expert witness selection and preparation in Maryland car accident cases involving disputed medical evidence. The court ultimately concluded that the jury was acting within its purview when it found that the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness was speculative, and thus it declined to find that the plaintiff suffered a permanent injury as a result of the accident.

X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The record is not clear if the other driver had no insurance, or if they had insufficient insurance to cover the plaintiff’s injuries, but regardless, the plaintiff ended up filing a claim with her own insurance company under the underinsured/uninsured motorist provision.

The plaintiff presented one expert witness, a neurosurgeon who had operated on the plaintiff. The neurosurgeon testified that the plaintiff suffered from degenerative disc disease, that it was possible the plaintiff would require surgery, and that the accident likely increased that chance by 15-20%. However, the neurosurgeon also testified that he had no idea how long the plaintiff’s degenerative disc disease had been developing.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case that presents interesting issues for motorists who have been injured in a Maryland car accident due to the negligence of a police officer or another government official. The case required the court to determine if an accident victim’s case should be permitted to proceed against a sheriff’s department that continued a high-speed police pursuit, ultimately resulting in the fleeing driver crashing into the plaintiffs’ car. Since the court found that a jury may find that the sheriffs involved acted with “reckless disregard,” the court permitted the plaintiffs’ case to proceed.

Police CarThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were seriously injured when a fleeing motorist struck their car while the plaintiffs were stuck in traffic in a busy intersection. According to the court’s opinion, the chase began almost an hour earlier when another sheriff’s department observed the driver fail to maintain a single lane of travel.

The sheriff who initiated the pursuit eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed, resulting in another sheriff department taking over the pursuit. Evidence showed that there was significant traffic at the time, and the suspect was driving aggressively, sometimes over 120 miles per hour.

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