In an earlier post, we discussed a pending bill in front of the Maryland State Legislature that would establish a no-fault birth-injury fund to help cover the costs associated with having a child with a birth injury. In a recent article by Southern Maryland News Net, the bill is discussed in greater detail.

toddler-and-mom-feet-1442012-mAccording to the article, Senate Bill 585 and House Bill 553 would establish a fund to help provide those families who give birth to a child with a neurological injury with the necessary means to care for and treat their child. Specifically, the fund provides money for the “living and care expenses” of the baby. The fund would be created by local participating hospitals that, according to actuarial estimates, would total around $25 million a year.

Pros and Cons of the No-Fault Birth-Injury Fund

The bill has been met by some harsh criticism, some of which is directed at the amount of money that the hospital would deposit into the fund. According to the bill’s sponsors, only about seven babies would qualify to tap into the fund each year. However, according to the Maryland Association for Justice, the number of eligible babies should be closer to 150 per year. If that is the case then the fund will be woefully inadequate to address the needs of all the children born with qualifying birth injuries.

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If you have spent time over the last couple months anywhere from New England to North Carolina, you have no doubt seen the crippling effects of the most recent winter storms that came through the area. In some areas, total snow fall was being measured in feet, rather than inches. While this kind of weather is certainly inconvenient for most on the East Coast, it is also downright dangerous for those who need to use the roads during times of inclement weather.

winter-in-poland-1445160-3-mAccording to one report by the Washington Post, one local Maryland man was recently killed in an accident that was caused at least in part by the snowy and icy roads. Evidently, the man was driving south on Route 97 in Howard County, near the Montgomery County border, when he took a turn too quickly.

Although the road was plowed at the time, the roadway was slick and the man lost control of his vehicle as he entered the turn. As he slipped out of his lane and into the lane of oncoming traffic, he crashed head-on into a northbound pick-up truck with a snowplow attachment.

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Senate Bill 612 is pending in the Maryland Legislature and, should it pass, would act to eliminate the state’s requirement that all motorcycle riders wear helmets when riding on public roads. According to a local news source, the bill would allow certain riders with adequate health insurance coverage to choose for themselves whether or not they would wear a helmet when riding.

motorcycle-helmet-prop-369702-mThe bill’s main sponsor is State Senator John Astle, who is a motorcycle enthusiast himself. He claims that responsible riders should have the choice whether to wear a helmet or not. He recalls his younger days riding across the county, explaining, “I had nothing on my head but a yellow rag, because it made me look really cool.” Those in support of the bill point to increased rider freedom as a key benefit. Additionally, they claim that the Bill would bring Maryland in line with the majority of other, more motorcycle-friendly states.

Of course, motorcycle riding is about more than looking “cool.” The opponents of the bill cite statistics that show non-helmet wearing riders are much more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal accident. In turn, hospital bills (many of which end up unpaid) would increase as a result of these increased injuries.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a case brought by two accident victims based on the fact that they did not raise an “issue of fact” as it pertained to proximate cause. The court determined that the plaintiffs failed to show that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s negligent acts were the cause-in-fact of their injuries.

mountain-road-1435240-mThe Facts of the Case

In the case, Piltch v. Ford Motor Company, the Piltches were seriously injured when their 2006 Mercury Mountaineer hit a patch of black ice, slid off the road, and crashed into a nearby wall. None of the cars’ airbags deployed during the accident. The Piltches filed suit against the manufacturer of the vehicle, claiming that under state law the vehicle was defective. They argued that they should be compensated for their injuries because the fact that the airbags did not deploy resulted in them sustaining more serious injuries than they would have had the airbags worked properly.

However, at trial the Piltches failed to present any “causation” evidence from an expert, meaning that they were relying solely on circumstantial evidence that the fact that the airbags didn’t deploy worsened their injuries.

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Earlier this month in Wisconsin, the mother of a 25-year-old man who took his own life back in 2012 filed a lawsuit against a youth football league, alleging that the brain damage her son sustained while playing for the league led to myriad mental health conditions and ultimately to his death. According to one local news source, the young man played for a Pop Warner football league from 1997 to 2000.

brain-001-880737-mEvidently, the young man sustained a number of head injuries and concussions during his tenure in the league. Towards the end of his life, the young man suffered from depression and dementia. The man’s mother, who is seeking $5 million in compensatory damages for the loss of her son, claims that the league was negligent in several ways, including:

  • Failing to properly train coaches in injury prevention and concussion treatment; and
  • Failing to educate players and parents about possible long-term brain damage that could result from playing football; and
  • Failing to institute proper concussion management or return-to-play rules for players suspected of having concussions.

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Several former professional wrestlers in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) league have sued the league over allegations that the league was negligent in protecting the safety of wrestlers during televised matches. According to one national news source, the allegations stem from the league’s negligence in its policies regarding permitted wrestling moves that—while they drew the audience’s attention—put the wrestlers at great risk for serious head injury.

black-bomber-40797-mEvidently, the wrestlers claimed in the lawsuit that they have suffered severe neurological damage due to the repeated head injuries they sustained while wrestling for the WWE. Specifically, they are claiming that they suffer from headaches, memory loss, depression, hearing impairment, tremors, convulsions, and migraines.

The kinds of injuries sustained in wrestling are not unlike those sustained in other high-impact sports, such as football and boxing. And, like wrestling, leagues in those sports are also under legal scrutiny for their policies regarding concussions and head injuries. In fact, the NFL is currently in a prolonged lawsuit with approximately 5,000 former players who claim that they sustained serious and irreversible damage while playing for the NFL.

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island upheld a jury’s verdict in a premises liability case that stemmed from a bar fight that left one man seriously injured. According to court documents, the fight occurred back in February 2009.

tequila-calls-you-211089-mEvidently, the plaintiff and another man were involved in two altercations on the same evening, the second of which rendered the plaintiff unconscious. He was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries and was kept there for two weeks. After he was released, he required another two-week stay at home before he was ready to return to work.

In 2010, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the bar owner, claiming that its negligence in responding to the first altercation resulted in the more serious second encounter that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff presented one eyewitness, a bartender, who testified that the other man was “known to have a black belt in karate and he’s known to get violent.” She also told the court that he was “belligerent, obnoxious, vulgar, antagonizing other patrons, and looking for a fight” on the night in question. Despite this, no one at the bar called police until after the second altercation.

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Back in March of last year, a hit-and-run accident claimed the life of one man. Since then, according to one news report, the driver of the car has been convicted of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, felony hit-and-run, and disorderly conduct after he pleaded guilty to the offenses.

car-fire-2-1068611-mThe charges arose from an accident where the driver of the vehicle hit the bicyclist on Virginia 122 in Bedford County. Witnesses to the accident told police that the driver pulled a crushed bicycle out from underneath his car before fleeing the scene. He later drunkenly called police to tell them his truck was on fire.

The bicyclist was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital but was pronounced dead the next day from blunt force trauma to the head. At his criminal trial, the driver was sentenced to seven and one-half years of incarceration for his involvement in the fatal accident.

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Due to a law enacted in the 1980s, Maryland plaintiffs are limited in the amount they are able to recover from municipalities across the state. According to an article by the Washington Post, this has led one woman to challenge the law that kept her from retaining the $11+ million award she received after a Prince George’s County police officer killed her husband while he was having a beer outside in Langley Park.

law-education-series-3-68918-mThe Facts of the Case

Evidently, the officer was off duty at the time and approached the woman’s husband because he was drinking in public. However, for some reason the confrontation escalated, and eventually the officer shot the man, killing him. The officer claimed that he was acting in self-defense, since the man was reaching for his gun. However, witnesses told a different story, explaining that the man never fought back and that the officer was the aggressor.

At Trial the Plaintiff Wins

At trial, the jury heard all the evidence and determined that the officer—as well as the County—was responsible for the wrongful death of the woman’s husband and returned a verdict in her favor for over $11 million.

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law-and-order-4b-977846-mWhen two parties enter into an out-of-court settlement, a contract is created by the two parties. This contract is typically a legally binding document that requires each party to do—or not do—certain things. For example, the most basic contract could be boiled down to something like the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a certain sum of money, and the plaintiff agrees to withdraw his or her lawsuit against the defendant and waive any future claims arising from that incident.

However, according to a recent report by the Baltimore Sun, all police brutality cases settled in the city come with one fairly uncommon term in the contract:  a confidentiality clause.

A confidentiality clause restricts the plaintiff from disclosing what happened with the reporters. This includes a prohibition against sharing any of the details of the settlement itself with the public, but the restriction goes further. Under Baltimore’s confidentiality clause, a plaintiff who accepts a settlement may not even discuss any of the facts or allegations of the underlying suit, essentially shielding government operations from the public eye.

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