Articles Posted in Relevant Personal Injury Case Law

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a slip-and-fall case illustrating several important principles relevant to Maryland personal injury cases. The case presented the court with an opportunity to discuss what a plaintiff must establish in order to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense. Here, the court held that since the plaintiff did not present any evidence that the defendant knew or should have known about the black ice that caused the plaintiff’s fall, summary judgment in favor of the defense was appropriate.

Icy RoadThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured as he got out of his car on the top level of a parking garage at the defendant hospital. The testimony at trial established that it had snowed several days that week and that there was visible ice and snow underneath some of the cars. However, the ice that caused the plaintiff’s fall was not visible. After his fall, hospital employees came to the plaintiff’s aid. One of the employees testified that she too had difficulty keeping her footing while on the icy pavement.

The hospital presented evidence that a security guard patrolled the area approximately every two hours. When the security officer noticed a snow or ice hazard, he was to call the hospital’s engineering department and remain on scene until an engineer arrived to clear the hazard. Evidence was presented that the area was patrolled that day about an hour and half before the plaintiff’s fall. Additionally, as per hospital policy, salt had been spread across the upper level of the parking garage to melt any ice that might have been present.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case discussing the doctrine of respondeat superior and the attendant “going and coming” doctrine. The case is illustrative of several key principles that often arise in the course of Maryland car accident cases, including the general determination of when an employer can be held liable for the negligent acts of an employee.

Front-End DamageThe Facts of the Case

An employee of the defendant corporation was driving to work early in the morning when he caused a collision, killing the passenger in the other vehicle. The family of the deceased passenger filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the employee as well as his employer. This case deals with the issue of whether the employer can be held liable for the employee’s allegedly negligent actions.

The employee was not scheduled for work that morning. After the accident, the employee told the responding police officer that he was on his way to work to collect resumes for some upcoming interviews that he had. However, while the employee had conducted several interviews earlier in the week, it was not verified that the employee had scheduled any upcoming interviews. Throughout the proceeding, the employee’s story changed slightly several times.

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Most Maryland personal injury lawsuits are resolved through pre-trial settlement negotiations, rather than through a trial. The reasons why parties enter into settlement agreements vary, but most often they include a desire for certainty in the case’s outcome. Indeed, many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs may wish to accept a negotiated settlement amount rather than risk taking the case to trial and receiving nothing. Defendants in personal injury cases may also be interested in agreeing to settle for a known amount, rather than risking a much larger jury verdict should the plaintiff succeed in proving their case at trial.

Manhole CoversSettlement agreements are essentially contracts whereby the plaintiff agrees to withdraw the case against the defendant, and the defendant agrees to compensate the plaintiff for doing so. Since settlement agreements free up valuable judicial resources, courts generally favor settlement agreements and permit parties to openly negotiate the terms of an agreement. For example, a plaintiff may choose to settle with one of the named defendants but proceed toward trial against another defendant.

When it comes to excusing parties from a Maryland personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs should take care to ensure that the party that is being excused is not necessary for some other reason. A recent opinion issued by a Mississippi appellate court illustrates the difficulties one plaintiff had establishing her case against a utility commission after settling a case against two other named defendants.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that illustrates the importance of proper expert witness selection in Maryland medical malpractice cases. The case illustrates the importance of selecting an expert whose methodologies are reliable and generally accepted in the medical community.

LaboratoryExpert witnesses are crucial in medical malpractice lawsuits. Indeed, within 90 days of filing a case, medical malpractice plaintiffs are required to consult with an expert and obtain a certificate of merit stating that, in the expert’s opinion, the defendant’s conduct fell below the generally accepted standard of care.

Once a certificate of merit is obtained, an expert’s services are still almost always required at trial to establish that the care provided by the defendant was inadequate. This is because most jurors do not have the necessary knowledge of the field of medicine or the medical profession to make an educated decision on such scientific and specialized issues. However, like all evidence, an expert’s testimony must meet certain criteria in order to be considered.

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When someone is injured on the property of a person, business, or government entity, the injured party may be able to seek compensation for their injuries through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. In order to be successful in a premises liability lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to establish certain elements. Specifically, an accident victim must be able to show that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Fallen TreeA recent appellate court case filed by a plaintiff who was injured by a fallen tree branch illustrates which elements a plaintiff must prove in order to be successful in a premises liability claim.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff rented an apartment in a complex that was owned by the defendants. During a storm, a tree was seriously damaged, and a portion of the tree ended up being suspended between the tree’s trunk and the gutter of the apartment complex.

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Swimming pools are a great way to bring friends and family together on those hot summer days. However, those who have swimming pools on their property assume a good deal of responsibility to avoid accidental drownings. Indeed, Maryland swimming pool deaths account for nearly 400 fatalities each year and represent about 20% of all drowning deaths in the state.

Swimming Pool WaterThose who have swimming pools on their property must take adequate precautions to ensure that those who use the pool are safe. Largely, local regulations govern which precautions are necessary. A recent personal injury case illustrates the difficulties one wrongful death plaintiff had when attempting to establish liability on the part of a condo association that operated the pool where his son drowned.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s son was swimming at a swimming pool located in a condominium complex where his aunt lived. At the time, the boy’s aunt was not present, but he was with other family members. The group used the aunt’s key card to gain access to the pool and did not seek approval from the condo association to use the pool.

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In Maryland, whenever someone is injured on the property of a person, business, or government entity, the victim may be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries through a Maryland premises liability lawsuit. Proving a premises liability lawsuit in Maryland requires a plaintiff to establish certain elements, which can vary depending on the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. For example, a “business invitee” is owed a higher duty of care than someone who enters another party’s land without permission.

Swimming PoolGenerally speaking, a Maryland premises liability plaintiff must prove that the landowner knew or should have known about the hazard but failed to take corrective action to remedy the harm. The plaintiff will also need to establish that they were unaware of the hazard that caused their injury. Importantly, a plaintiff must also specify the alleged act of negligence they claim caused their injury. A recent case illustrates how one plaintiff’s failure to include an additional theory of liability prevented him from arguing that theory on appeal.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was working with the defendant realtor to find an investment property. The defendant had a listing in mind that he thought would be a good fit for the plaintiff. The property had a pool in the back yard, which the defendant had arranged to be professionally serviced and then emptied prior to listing the property for sale.

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Maryland state and local governments face a significant number of Maryland accident lawsuits each year. In many cases, the government named as a defendant may concede liability and offer a settlement agreement to an accident victim in return for the victim agreeing not to pursue the case in court. However, before a government entity can make the determination of whether the accident victim’s case is meritorious, the government entity must first learn about the plaintiff’s injury.

Manhole CoverTo help expedite the process, anyone considering filing a personal injury case against a Maryland government entity must first file notice to that entity, providing certain information, including the nature of their injury, where it occurred, and what the accident victim is asking to receive. An accident victim who fails to file this pre-lawsuit notice, or files a notice that does not comply with the requirements, risks the early dismissal of their case. This is what happened in a recent premises liability case out of Georgia.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when he stepped in a manhole that was not covered. The plaintiff initially reported the open manhole to the police department and provided the address of 425 Chappell Road, which was at the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson Turner Road.

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The document that initiates a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit against a defendant is called the complaint. Under Maryland law, a plaintiff’s complaint must be drafted according to guidelines. For example, a complaint must contain sufficiently specific allegations to put the defendant on notice regarding the lawsuit and how they were alleged to have been negligent. A recent case illustrates how one plaintiff’s failure to draft a sufficiently specific complaint resulted in a jury verdict in her favor being reversed.

Operating RoomThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, a breast cancer survivor, was scheduled to have reconstructive surgery performed by the defendant. However, due to the radiation used to treat the cancer, there were risks involved with the procedure. The defendant discussed the risks with the plaintiff, and initially the plaintiff agreed to proceed with surgery on both breasts.

The plaintiff claims that she later changed her mind and revoked consent to operate on her left breast, citing concerns over the radiation. The plaintiff still wanted to proceed with reconstructive surgery on her right breast.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit filed by a woman who was seriously injured when she was run over by a horse during a race in which she was participating. The case is important for Maryland personal injury plaintiffs because it acts as a warning, illustrating how defendants may attempt to evade liability through the doctrine of assumption of the risk.

Horse RacingThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was participating in a horse race spanning either 25 or 50 miles, depending on the rider’s preference. During the race, riders were to stop at checkpoints to obtain playing cards indicating that they did indeed make their way around the predetermined circuit.

At approximately the eight-mile mark, the plaintiff was in the leading group of riders. The plaintiff dismounted her horse to obtain the playing card, as per the race rules. However, as she did so, the defendant’s horse ran into a nearby cluster of other horses, causing a chain-reaction accident. Several of the horses were startled and took off running. The plaintiff was injured when she was trampled by one of the horses.

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