Recently, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a personal injury case raising an important issue that frequently arises in Maryland car accident cases. Specifically, the case considered whether motorists were covered under a third party’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Finding that the third party specifically rejected obtaining coverage for those other than the named individuals in the policy, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims.Legal News Gavel

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs arranged to test-drive a car from a local car dealership. While they were out on the test-drive, another motorist rear-ended the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs were injured as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who hit them.

That driver, however, did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiffs for the injuries they sustained in the accident. Therefore, the plaintiffs then named the insurance company that wrote the policy for the car dealership as a party to the case, seeking to obtain coverage under that policy’s UIM coverage.

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vehicle fireRecently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a product liability lawsuit discussing when, if ever, another state’s statute of repose applies. The case presents an interesting issue for Maryland product liability plaintiffs because although Maryland law does apply other state’s statutes of repose in some circumstances, courts will not do so if the case is brought by a Maryland resident.

The Facts of the Case

In 2012, the plaintiff’s Ford Escape caught fire while parked in her garage. The fire spread to her home, and she was injured as she attempted to flee the fire. The plaintiff filed a product liability case against Ford in federal court. The vehicle was manufactured in 2001 in Missouri, and first sold later that year. The plaintiff lived in Oregon.

Oregon’s statute of repose requires all cases to be brought by the later of:

  • Ten years from the time when the vehicle was manufactured, or
  • “The expiration of any statute of repose for an equivalent civil action in the state in which the product was manufactured.”

Missouri, the state where the vehicle was manufactured, did not have a statute of repose. Thus, there was a question as to what, if any, statute of repose applied to the plaintiff’s case.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing when an employer can be held liable when an employee causes a serious car accident on the way to or from work. Ultimately, the court concluded that an employer may be held liable in situations where the employer requires an employee to use the car on the day of the accident. The case is important for Maryland car accident victims because it illustrates the types of arguments employers may make when one of their employees causes an accident.

Legal News GavelVicarious Liability

As a general rule, an employer is responsible for the negligent acts of an employee, if the act is during and within the scope of employment. The idea is that the employee is carrying out the business of the employer, so it is only fair to allow anyone injured as a result of the employee’s negligence to seek compensation not just from the employee, but also the employer.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was serious injured when he was struck by another car as a result of a collision caused by a county public defender (the “public defender”). While the county did not state that the public defender needed a have a car, practically speaking it was not possible for him to perform the functions of his job without a car. For example, the public defender had to attend various courthouses across the county, visit clients in prison, and investigate crime scenes.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to interpret an insurance policy to determine if the policy provided uninsured motorist (UIM) protection to a man who was killed by an uninsured driver. Ultimately, the court concluded that the decedent’s employer’s insurance policy did not provide UIM coverage to the decedent and, thus, rejected the plaintiff’s claim.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was the estate of a man who was killed when he was struck by a driver who was high on methamphetamine while he was riding his personal lawnmower. The at-fault driver was not insured.

The estate of the decedent filed a UIM claim under the decedent’s employer’s insurance policy, which contained coverage for UIM benefits. Specifically, that clause stated that UIM benefits under the policy extended to “you or others we protect.” The estate argued that the term “others we protect” included the decedent.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an important issue that potential Maryland product liability plaintiffs should understand. The plaintiff in the case was seriously injured when the rear glass door of a truck bed cover fell onto his head unexpectedly. The court had to determine if the manufacturer of the truck bed cover could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Shattered GlassThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a fire department, which owned a pick-up truck. The fire department purchased a truck bed cover for one of the department’s vehicles, which consisted of a hard-top cover for the bed and a glass rear door to access the bed when the truck’s pick-up gate was open.

One day, the plaintiff went to retrieve some items from inside the bed of the truck. He lifted the glass door and leaned in. However, as he retrieved the items, the glass door fell onto his head, causing serious injuries.

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It may seem obvious, but a Maryland or Virginia car accident can cause serious, life-altering injuries to those involved. In most cases, the at-fault party will have liability insurance that will kick in to compensate the accident victims for the injuries they sustained in the accident. However, once the at-fault driver’s liability policy maximum is met, the accident victims will only be able to rely on whatever personal assets the at-fault party has. This may still leave accident victims without full compensation for serious injuries.

Legal News GavelEvery insurance policy that is issued in Maryland is required to provide un/underinsured motorist (UIM) protection to the insured. In the event of a serious Maryland car accident where the at-fault party’s liability coverage is insufficient to cover the costs of an accident victim’s injuries, the accident victim’s UIM policy will kick in, covering the remaining uncovered portion.

In Maryland, all motorists are required to obtain the following liability and UIM coverage amounts:

  • $30,000 to cover bodily injury to one person;
  • $60,000 to cover bodily injury to two people; and
  • $15,000 to cover damage to property.

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Despite the recent push by the federal and state governments, fatigued driving remains a leading cause of Maryland car accidents. The dangers of drowsy driving are undisputed, even when a driver remains awake. Drivers who do not obtain enough sleep, or are otherwise drowsy, suffer from decreased attention span, increased reaction time, and compromised judgment. Of course, there is also the chance that a driver falls asleep behind the wheel, losing all control of the vehicle.

Legal News GavelIt is estimated that 21% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involve a fatigued driver. Most often, a driver experienced fatigue due to a lack of sleep. However, intoxication, medication, and various medical conditions can also cause sleepiness. In almost all cases, a driver should be able to notice the effects of drowsiness setting in and should pull off the road when it is no longer safe to operate a motor vehicle.

When a drowsy driver causes a Maryland car accident, anyone injured as a result of the accident may be entitled to compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. This includes passengers of the car being driven by the at-fault driver. However, establishing liability for a drowsy driving accident may not always be straightforward. Anyone considering filing a Maryland personal injury lawsuit should consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit brought against an insurance company by the insured. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s eight-month delay in reporting the accident to her insurance company excused the insurance company from covering the accident under a clause that the insured must “immediately” notify the insurance company after an accident. Sometimes these issues arise in Maryland car accident cases as well.

Legal News GavelUltimately, the court concluded that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff failed to immediately notify the insurance company. However, since her failure to provide notice may have been excused, the court determined that the case should proceed toward trial for a jury to make that determination.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The car the plaintiff was driving at the time was owned by her ex-husband, who had a policy with the defendant insurance company.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a used car that was allegedly sold without a muffler, which, according to the plaintiffs, caused their carbon monoxide poisoning. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense, and thus, the lower court was wrong to have granted the motion.

Legal News GavelThis case presents an important issue for those who have been injured in a Maryland car accident and believe the accident was caused in part by a missing or defective vehicle component.

The Facts of the Case

A couple bought a used car from the defendant dealership. The car, which had been received by the defendant dealership as a trade-in, had 180,000 miles on it and had a number of mechanical problems. However, the salesperson for the defendant did not note that the car was missing a muffler.

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Earlier this month, a Maryland car accident involving three vehicles claimed the life of one woman and injured several others. According to a local news report, the accident occurred in the evening hours on Route 238 and Asbury Road, in Denton.

Legal News GavelEvidently, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was traveling eastbound when it inexplicably crossed over the center line and into oncoming traffic. As the Jeep entered oncoming traffic, it struck a Toyota head-on. The Jeep then rolled over and struck a nearby GMC truck, which was also traveling westbound.

Several injuries were reported among the passengers in the Jeep. The driver and one of the passengers in the Toyota were taken to the hospital as well. However, one of the passengers in the Toyota sustained fatal injuries.

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