Recently, a Virginia appellate court issued an opinion discussing the state’s dead man statute, which may preclude a witness from testifying to conversations that the witness had with someone who has died. Ultimately, the Virginia court determined that the deceased defendant’s statement was properly entered into evidence. While Maryland’s dead man’s statute is a little different than Virginia’s, this case helps illustrate the differences. As always, reach out to a Maryland car accident attorney for help answering questions about the facts of your specific situation.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a Virginia car accident where the defendant rear-ended him. After the crash but before the case reached trial, the defendant died from unrelated causes.

Evidently, at trial, liability was not at issue because the defendant’s estate admitted the defendant was at fault. However, the estate contested the amount of damages the plaintiff was seeking. In support of its case, the estate presented testimony from the deceased defendant’s son, who testified to a conversation he had with his father shortly after the accident in which the defendant told his son that the accident occurred at “five to seven miles per hour.”

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Chances are, anyone who has spent significant time driving in Maryland or Virginia has come across a section of road or an intersection that seemed unsafe. It may be that a stop sign or stop light was not placed at an intersection that needed it, or a blind corner was too tight to safely navigate without encroaching into oncoming traffic. Regardless, there are hundreds of Maryland and Virginia car accidents that are caused by unsafe roads.

Typically, the local government is responsible for the design and maintenance of roads. Thus, any claim arising from an accident that was due to an unsafe road would necessarily be brought against the local government agency overseeing that particular portion of the highway. However, in both Maryland and Virginia, the states’ immunity laws act to preclude many of these lawsuits.

Government immunity has been around in some form since the birth of the country, and it provides state and federal governments with immunity from lawsuits that are the result of the government carrying out its official duties. The question in these cases often comes down to whether the government’s actions were discretionary in nature. If so, immunity will typically attach, preventing an injury victims’ claim from proceeding. Courts have held that the duty to design roads and place traffic-control devices is a discretionary government function that is entitled to immunity. However, claims against a government agency that allege a failure to keep a road clean and maintain the road safely have been allowed to proceed.

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For the most part, Maryland car accident cases present straightforward issues that jurors are capable of understanding and digesting. However, some car accident cases may present more complex issues. In this situation, an expert witness will be necessary to help the jurors understand the negligent acts of the defendant and how they led to the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the importance of expert witnesses cannot be overstated.

Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the plaintiff’s expert should have been allowed to submit an amended report after reviewing additional information. Ultimately, the court concluded that the expert’s subsequent report was not admissible and precluded its admission.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs were the surviving loved ones of a man who was killed in a single-car accident. Evidently, the man’s vehicle inexplicably swerved off the road, crashing into a concrete pillar. Investigators noticed that the grass underneath the man’s vehicle was charred. Days after the accident, the vehicle’s manufacturer issued a recall related to the transmission oil cooler (TOC) based on concerns that a defective TOC may result in an undercarriage fire.

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The judge’s role in a Maryland personal injury case is to oversee the trial. This includes making pre-trial discovery and evidentiary decisions, as well as ruling on objections made by the parties during the trial. The judge is also responsible for instructing the jury on the applicable law after the parties have presented their evidence.

Judges, however, are human and occasionally make mistakes. Thus, the Maryland court system allows for a party to appeal an adverse legal decision that was made by a trial judge. In order to preserve a claim of error for appellate review, a party must be sure to follow specific procedures. Otherwise, the appellate court may determine that the error was not preserved. A recent case discusses error-preservation in the personal injury context.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a rear-end accident she claimed was caused by the defendant. Before trial, the plaintiff filed proposed jury instructions including an instruction on the doctrine of negligence per se. After the trial had begun, the court held a charging conference; however, the conference was not memorialized. At the end of the conference, the court determined that it was not going to instruct the jury on the plaintiff’s proposed negligence per se instruction. The court asked the parties if either had anything it wanted to put on the record, and the plaintiff’s attorney responded: “I have no issues with the charge, Your Honor.”

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A Maryland personal injury lawsuit is a civil claim, the purpose of which is to seek compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries. However, the defendant’s actions that resulted in the accident may also rise to the level of criminal conduct. If this is the case, then the defendant may face both criminal and civil charges.

It is not uncommon for a defendant to face both criminal and civil charges. For example, in most Maryland DUI accidents, the defendant can be found both criminally and civilly liable. However, for the most part, a personal injury victim will wait until the outcome of a criminal trial to file their lawsuit. There are several reasons for this, including that a criminal conviction can be helpful to a personal injury plaintiff in proving their case against the defendant. However, there are also other considerations that should be taken into account.

A recent opinion from a state appellate court illustrates one potential issue a personal injury plaintiff could face while litigating a civil claim while the defendant’s criminal matter is pending.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue that frequently arises in Maryland car accident cases. Specifically, the case involved the question of employer liability following an accident allegedly caused by the negligent actions of an employee.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff, a young child, was seriously injured in an accident with a dump truck. The dump truck driver was hired by Company A, which was working under a contract with Company B. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the dump truck’s driver, Company A, and Company B. The court’s opinion dealt with the potential liability of Company B.

Apparently, the driver of the dump truck tested positive for several controlled substances. The plaintiff claimed that Company B was negligent in failing to ensure that Company A performed a background check on the driver and also that Company B was negligent in failing to determine if the truck driver was drug-free.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting an interesting issue that will be relevant to many Maryland car accident cases. The case involved the potential liability of a landowner for their alleged failure to trim trees that were on their property that obscured motorists’ view of an adjacent intersection.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving loved ones of a driver who was killed in a two-car automobile accident. According to the court’s opinion, the collision occurred at the intersection of two gravel roads. The plaintiff owned the property that was adjacent to the southeast corner of the intersection.

Evidently, after the accident, investigating officers noticed that it was impossible for northbound traffic to see vehicles approaching from the west, and vice-versa, due to the presence of dense foliage on the southwest corner of the intersection. The driver of the other vehicle also explained that he was unable to see the deceased driver’s car until he had entered the intersection.

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Late last month, one woman was killed in a Maryland car accident that occurred on the side of Highway 50 near Route 410 in Prince George’s County. According to a local news report, the victim pulled over and got out of her car to assist another motorist who had lost control of their vehicle and crashed into a wall.

Evidently, shortly after the woman exited her car and was approaching the disabled vehicle, another car struck her. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency workers. The driver of the car that hit the victim was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Drunk Driving Accidents in Maryland

Despite countless government campaigns, motorists routinely get behind the wheel after having consumed too much to drink. In fact, in Maryland alone, there are approximately 170 people killed each year due to drunk driving. While the government often prosecutes drunk drivers, there is little that the criminal justice system can do to provide compensation to those who have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a Maryland DUI accident.

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Over the past few decades, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Maryland roadside accidents. Some attribute this increase to the more prevalent role technology has taken in most American’s lives, which in turn has led to more instances of distracted driving. Regardless of the underlying cause, many roadside accidents involve police officers, emergency medical technicians, and other emergency workers who are carrying out their duties when they are struck by a passing motorist.

Thus, back in 2010, Maryland lawmakers passed the state’s ‘move over’ law to protect those most at risk of being struck by a distracted driver. Under Maryland Code § 21-405, motorists are prohibited from passing an emergency vehicle while going in the same direction without either safely changing lanes or slowing down “to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic conditions.”

Initially, Maryland’s ‘move over’ law applied only to tow trucks and emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. This offered some protection to these discrete classes of workers; however, the statute did not apply to non-emergency workers who still spent a significant amount of time along the side of the road.

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While limousines are not a common form of transportation for most people, many find themselves occasionally riding in a limo for special occasions such as weddings, proms, or birthday parties. In addition, limousine touring has become increasingly popular as a way to more safely enjoy the Maryland wine country. Given the number of passengers a limousine can carry, Maryland limousine accidents have the potential to cause serious injury to a large number of people.

Earlier this month, a limousine accident in Upstate New York claimed the lives of 20 people, including everyone inside the limo and two pedestrian bystanders. Federal authorities have declared the crash as the deadliest in the United States in nearly a decade. According to a recent news report, the accident occurred in the early afternoon hours in Schoharie, New York. Evidently, a 2001 Ford Limousine approached a T-intersection at a high rate of speed, traveling through the intersection and into the parking lot of a restaurant. The limo then crashed into an unoccupied SUV.

Authorities noted that several people witnessed the accident, but it was clear from the physical evidence at the scene where the limo was coming from. It appears as though the roads leading to the intersection where the accident occurred are steep and offer only limited visibility of the approaching intersection. In fact, the New York Department of Transportation recently prohibited large trucks from using the road due to fears that the vehicles would lose their ability to brake effectively down the steep hill.

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