Motorcycle accidents are one of the most dangerous incidents and often result in serious injuries and fatalities. According to the most recent statistics by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDT), Maryland motorcycle accidents accounted for about 2% of the total number of accidents in the state. However, motorcycle crashes comprised almost 15% of all the fatal accidents in the state. Moreover, four out of five of the passengers killed in these accidents were not wearing any safety equipment. In combination with the steady increase in motorcycle accidents, these startling statistics highlight the importance of motorcycle safety for both operators and passengers.

Motorcycle passengers and operators are more vulnerable to serious injuries because of the lack of protection from impacts with other vehicles or objects. Moreover, motorcycle passengers are often thrown from the bikes after a collision occurs. These situations can result in the passenger being run over by oncoming traffic, slammed into the concrete, or thrown into a guard rail or similar static object.

For example, a news report recently described a tragic motorcycle accident that involved a bike and a sedan. According to a preliminary investigation, the motorcycle crossed through a center line and slammed head-on with the sedan. Law enforcement reported that the motorcycle driver suffered serious injuries, and the passenger died.

Many Maryland and Washington D.C. residents count on public transportation in their daily lives for work and recreation. At a minimum, we expect that public transportation will be safe and reliable. Unfortunately, this was not the case when a metro bus crashed earlier this month, causing significant injuries.

In an event that emergency crews described as a “mass casualty incident,” at least 13 people were injured. Although reports on the extent of the injuries vary, it appears at this time that at least two people were seriously hurt. About seven people had less serious injuries, and one individual refused treatment altogether.

At this time, the cause of the bus accident is unknown. In many cases, however, when a bus crashes, someone is legally responsible. The people injured in the crash—including any people who might have suffered an emotional injury from the trauma of the incident—may have a claim for monetary compensation against those responsible for the accident.

There is no greater tragedy than the death of a child. When a child’s death results from negligence, their grieving family can begin to seek closure through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Unfortunately, one family was left grieving earlier this month when an 11-year-old boy was killed at an Iowa amusement park. Reports say that the boy passed away after the raft he was on overturned at the park. Although first responders and witnesses arrived to render care to the six passengers aboard the raft, the boy could not be saved. Several other passengers were hospitalized following the incident, including a second child who was said to be in critical condition.

According to reports, officials are still in the early stages of investigating this amusement park disaster. A key question could be whether negligence was a factor in the child’s death.

Expert testimony is useful in many Maryland accident cases, and in some cases, expert testimony is essential. Under Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-702, expert testimony may be admitted if the court finds that the testimony will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. In determining whether to admit expert testimony, a court will consider whether the witness is qualified as an expert, whether the testimony is appropriate, and whether there is a sufficient factual basis to support the testimony.

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia considered whether a trial court properly excluded expert testimony in a wrongful death case arising from “an unexplainable single-vehicle accident” in which both occupants died. According to the decision, one morning, a tractor-trailer owned by a company left its lane of travel on a highway and rolled down an embankment in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The crash killed both of the occupants of the vehicle: an employee of the company, who was transporting fertilizer, and the plaintiff, who was a friend of the employee and accompanied the employee on the day of the crash.

The plaintiff (administrator of the friend’s estate) filed a complaint against the employer and against the administrator of the employee’s estate, seeking damages for wrongful death.

A product recall may allow consumers who purchased the recalled product to have the product replaced, repaired, and/or refunded, depending on the recall. Yet, those remedies often do not compensate consumers to the extent of their injuries. Even if a consumer is able to receive a replacement, repair, or refund through a recall, an affected consumer still is able to seek compensation through a Maryland product liability claim.

There are different types of product liability claims that may be filed based on a defective product. In a strict liability claim, a plaintiff must show that the product was defective when it left the defendant’s control, its condition did not substantially change before it reached the consumer, the product was unreasonably dangerous, and the defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries. A plaintiff does not need to show that the defendant acted negligently in some way in a strict liability claim. A strict liability claim may be based on the defective manufacturing, defective design, or inadequate warnings or instructions of the product. A product liability claim may also be based on general negligence principles or breach of warranty.

A product must contain sufficient warnings and instructions for the proper use and risks of using the product. The warnings must be clear and easy to understand. However, warnings and instructions may not protect companies from liability if a product is unsafe if used in a way that is to be expected.

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, and Maryland construction site accidents result in thousands of serious injuries and fatalities every year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides safety practices and regulations to mitigate the danger in these workplaces. These regulations provide mandatory training, supervising, and inspections of workplaces. Despite the rigorous training many employers and employees must complete every year, accidents continue to rise.

These accidents can result in serious injuries related to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, lacerations, electrocution, paralysis, and more. Treatment and rehabilitation for these conditions often far exceed the amount that health insurance and workers’ compensation covers. Further, the law bars many employees from filing lawsuits against their employers. As such, it is essential that injury victims and their families understand all potential defendants in these cases.

These claims typically fall under the purview of third-party claims. Third-party claims work to bridge the gap between what an employee’s workers’ compensation claim pays out and the residual damages they incurred. These claims are appropriate when a non-employer third party was at fault or partially at fault for the accident and resulting injuries.

Many Maryland accident victims do not have direct evidence of a defendant’s negligence. That is, the plaintiff does not have direct proof of the cause of the accident. In these cases, accident victims must prove the case through circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s fault, relying on inferences of the defendant’s fault.

In a Maryland negligence claim, a plaintiff must generally show that the defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, the defendant breached that duty, the plaintiff suffered an injury or loss, and the loss or injury was proximately caused by the defendant’s breach of its duty. Proof of causation may rest on direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, or a combination of the two. A negligence claim can rest solely on circumstantial evidence. However, the circumstantial evidence must create “a reasonable likelihood or probability rather than a possibility” that supports a “rational basis of causation” and cannot be based solely on speculation.

In a recent case before a state appeals court, the court considered whether there was sufficient evidence of causation in a case that rested on circumstantial evidence. In that case, the plaintiff went to a medical center to visit a patient. As she was walking to the patient’s room, the plaintiff slipped and fell in front of a utility-room door and fractured her kneecap. She alleged that the floor was wet and sued the Medical Center for negligence. The case went to trial, and a jury found in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded her more than a million dollars. The defendant appeal, arguing in part that there was insufficient evidence of a wet floor or that the medical center knew of a wet substance on the floor.

Roundup weedkiller has been used for years as a pesticide. The pesticide, manufactured by Monsanto, uses the active ingredient glyphosate, which many claim causes cancer. In a recent decision that has implications for Maryland injury victims and Roundup users, a federal appeals court upheld a jury verdict finding that Roundup caused the plaintiff’s cancer.

The plaintiff in the case used Roundup for years on his land in California and alleged that his use of Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The trial was held in 2019 and the jury awarded the plaintiff over $5 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. The court subsequently reduced the punitive damages award to $20 million. Two similar cases were heard in 2018 and 2019 and the juries also found in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them millions of dollars.

On appeal, Monsanto argued in part that it did not know and could not have known that glyphosate caused cancer in 2012 when the plaintiff stopped using Roundup. However, the appeals court found there was sufficient evidence supporting a link between glyphosate and cancer that it could have known the information in 2012. For example, in 1985, the EPA found glyphosate was a possible human carcinogen. Although it changed its designation to “non-carcinogenic” in 1991, there were various studies that linked glyphosate and cancer during the 1990s. Monsanto later hired a genotoxicologist who found evidence that glyphosate might be genotoxic and recommended that Monsanto conduct tests on Roundup’s genotoxicity. Other studies that linked glyphosate and cancer were also released by 2012. Thus, there was sufficient evidence that the link between glyphosate and cancer was “knowable” by 2012.

Health care facilities, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and outpatient treatment facilities owe a duty of care to their patients and visitors. The duty of care is a facet of the facility’s obligation to prevent hazards and unreasonable risk of harm to those on their property. Hospital injury cases tend to fall under Maryland medical malpractice or premises liability laws. In contrast, hospital visitor injury claims are a bit more convoluted but generally fall under premises liability theories of negligence.

Maryland premises liability claims may apply in cases when a person suffers injuries because of a dangerous condition at another’s public or private property. The law provides property owners and occupiers to keep their land or business reasonably safe for individuals they can reasonably expect will enter their property. Challenges often arise when the property owner asserts that they did not owe a duty to the injury victim, based on their visitor status.

There are four types of visitor classifications for Maryland premises liability purposes. These classifications include invitees, licensee by invitation, bare licensee, and trespassers. Invitees are usually business guests or customers. Property owners have the duty to keep the property safe by engaging in inspections, protecting the visitor from foreseeable dangers, and warning them of any potentially dangerous conditions. Licensee by invitation is social guests, such as a guest at a party. In these cases, even though they are invited, a property owner must only warn the licensee of dangerous conditions the owner knows about, but they don’t need to inspect the property. Bare licensees are those who enter another’s property with consent and knowledge, but for the visitor’s purpose or interest. This may include solicitors or possibly hospital visitors. In these cases, the property owner must refrain from purposefully injuring the bare licensee or creating new dangers without warning. Finally, trespassers are those that enter another’s a property without permission. In these cases, the owner must only refrain from intentionally hurting the individual.

When we buy products from the store, we expect them to be safe. Some products, however, are defective and can injure consumers. Sometimes, products are defectively designed. Other times, the design is safe, but a mistake was made during manufacturing that made the product dangerous. When these issues arise and injure people, those who are responsible can be held accountable.

In a recent state Supreme Court decision, the court considered a defective design products liability claim. An electric terminal manufacturer produced two functionally identical products for the same cost for over a decade, but the older of the two designs were more susceptible to failure. When a corporate affiliate of the manufacturer chose to use the older version when manufacturing new air conditioning products, a technician experienced severe burns when the product ignited and overheated. A jury concluded that the older design was unreasonably dangerous, and the failure of the manufacturer to warn of this hazard caused the technician’s injury. The manufacturer appealed.

On appeal, the state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision and held that the jury’s finding of a design defect did not result in an improper verdict. To find that a defective design caused an individual’s injuries, a plaintiff must prove that (1) the product was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, (2) a safer alternative existed, and (3) the defect was the cause of the injury. Because the jury found that the product was unreasonably dangerous and caused the technician’s injuries and that the manufacturer failed to adequately provide warnings about potential hazards, the Supreme Court affirmed. In addition, since there was another product that was functionally identical but less susceptible to failure, all three factors were met.

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