Articles Posted in Relevant Personal Injury Case Law

Skiing is the favorite seasonal pastime of many Maryland recreationalists. However, skiing can be a dangerous sport, especially when the ski resort does not take the necessary safety precautions. While the winter ski season has passed, now is a good time for those who were injured in a Maryland skiing accident to consider whether they may have a claim for compensation against the resort where their injuries occurred.

In general, ski resorts – like other landowners – have a duty to ensure that areas accessible by guests are safe and well maintained. This includes not just the resort’s skiable areas, but also restaurants, restrooms, locker rooms, and parking lots. When management is negligent in the operation of the resort, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of that negligence.

One issue that frequently comes up in ski accident cases is whether the injured skier gave up their right to pursue a claim against the ski resort by signing, or otherwise acknowledging, the resort’s release of liability. A recent case illustrates how courts review cases in which a defendant ski resort relies on a printed release of liability.

It has often been said that the best offense is a good defense. Thus, it is essential for those who have been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident to understand the common ways that a defendant will try to defeat a plaintiff’s claim. There are two basic arguments that Maryland premises liability defendants use to evade accountability.

At its most basic, a Maryland premises liability claim requires the plaintiff to establish that the defendant landowner was negligent in the maintenance of their property. It may be that a landowner failed to warn visitors of a known hazard or that the landowner failed to remedy a hazard that, given the circumstances, the landowner should have known about. In either case, to prove a landowner’s negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant landowner knew or should have known about the hazard.

One common tactic is for a defendant landowner to argue that he did not have knowledge of the hazard. Importantly, Maryland premises liability law does not require a plaintiff to prove that a landowner had actual knowledge of a hazard. Indeed, most Maryland slip-and-fall cases proceed on the theory that the landowner had constructive knowledge of the hazard.

A Maryland landlord cannot ensure the safety of its residents, but it does have a duty to take reasonable security measures. In a recent case before a state appellate court, the court considered the extent of a condominium’s responsibility to protect its residents.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a new resident at a condo in downtown Atlanta. The declarations for the condominium stated that it was not responsible for providing security to residents. However, the plaintiff claimed the association provided what he considered to be security measures, such as security gates, and that these features contributed to him deciding to purchase the property.

Evidently, a security gate outside the property required a key fob for access, which he was told would be provided by the defendant property management company. More than two weeks after closing on the property, he was given a fob, but he could not get the fob to open the vehicle-access gate. The plaintiff contacted the company on multiple occasions. As he was attempting to resolve the issue with the key fob, about a month after he moved in, he was the victim of a violent attack on the sidewalk outside of his condominium complex. He had arrived home around 2:00 a.m. with his girlfriend, and after not being able to enter through the gate, and decided to park on the street. He got out of his car, and was stabbed three times in an attempted robbery.

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There are many different types of Maryland product liability cases. Some product liability cases involve manufacturing mistakes while others are based on the defective design of a product or that it is unreasonably dangerous. Recently, the manufacturer of Round-Up weed killer has been in the hot seat after thousands of frequent users of the product have developed a specific type of cancer. While the manufacturer of the product claims that the product is safe, others argue that high levels of exposure can result in users developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Currently, a jury is considering phase one of a bellwether trial in San Francisco. A bellwether trial is the first case to proceed to trial that presents an issue that is also presented by many other pending lawsuits that have been filed by plaintiffs who are making similar claims. Thus, the result of a bellwether trial can be incredibly important to how the other subsequent lawsuits proceed. For example, if a judge decides a specific pre-trial motion in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant may be more willing to settle the subsequent cases.

According to a recent news report, the case involves a man who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Round-Up over 300 times in his 26-year career. The man claims that his use of Round-Up throughout his career was a “substantial factor” in causing his cancer. In addition, the plaintiff claims that the manufacturer of the product attempted to influence the public’s perception of the product’s safety by influencing scientists and regulators.

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Although the concept of sovereign immunity is not mentioned anywhere in the U.S. Constitution or the Bill of Rights, courts have long held that the U.S. government is immune from liability without its consent. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), however, those who have been injured as a result of the conduct of a federal employee or agency may be able to pursue a claim for compensation.

The FTCA provides a strict set of procedural rules that must be followed in order for a case to be heard by a federal court. If an injury victim misses a deadline or otherwise fails to comply with one of the FTCA’s requirements, their claim will likely be dismissed. Thus, it is crucial for Maryland injury victims bringing claims under the FTCA to understand all of the requirements the FTCA imposes. A recent federal appellate opinion discusses the statute of limitations in FTCA claims.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, in 2005, when the plaintiff was just five years old, when his father died in an auto accident. The accident occurred on an interstate highway. Because the plaintiff was only five years old at the time, the plaintiff’s mother filed a claim against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The claim alleged that a highway barrier failed during the accident, resulting in the plaintiff’s father’s death.

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As we have discussed in other posts, the legal doctrine of contributory negligence precludes personal injury victims who are found to be partially at fault for their injuries from pursuing a claim of financial compensation. While Maryland’s contributory negligence law, in most people’s eyes, is outdated and overly harsh, for now, it governs how courts determine liability in Maryland personal injury accidents.

Contributory negligence is often discussed in the context of auto accidents. However, the doctrine also applies in Maryland slip-and-fall cases. A recent state appellate decision illustrates why contributory negligence is so harmful to Maryland premises liability plaintiffs.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff owned property in the defendant condo complex. One day, the plaintiff was walking along a sidewalk in the complex when she tripped on a section of uneven cement. The plaintiff frequented the area where she fell. Evidently, the cement area had been marked by complex management with blue dots, indicating it to be an area that needed to be repaired.

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In Maryland product liability cases, courts will apply one of two tests to determine if the manufacturer can be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Where a product is alleged to have a malfunction, courts will apply the “risk-utility” test. However, when there is no allegation that the product malfunctioned in any way, courts will apply the “consumer expectations” test.

Under a risk-utility analysis, courts consider whether the danger presented by the product is outweighed by its utility. A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court illustrates the application of the risk-utility test.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff purchased a heating pad that was manufactured by the defendant. The plaintiff was using the heating pad as she was lying in bed, and fell asleep while the pad was on. About 90 minutes later, the plaintiff’s roommate came into the plaintiff’s room after noticing a strange smell. As it turns out, the heating pad had burned into the sheets and mattress, ultimately burning the house down. The Fire Chief determined that the heating pad was the cause of the fire.

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Whenever someone is injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, the injured party is entitled to pursue a claim for compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. However, based on longstanding constitutional principles, government agencies enjoy immunity from some of these lawsuits. Thus, one of the most important considerations after a Maryland accident is whether any of the defendants are government employees and, if so, whether they may be entitled to immunity.

Under Maryland case law, government agencies are entitled to immunity when carrying out discretionary duties. A discretionary duty, as the name implies, is one which involves the exercise of discretion. If an act is not discretionary, it is ministerial, meaning that it does not require the judgment of a government employee. A recent case illustrates how courts approach the distinction between ministerial and discretionary acts.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a young girl was planning on attending a field trip to a pool that was located in a government-owned park. Because the young girl could not swim, her mother spoke with the playground coordinator, who reassured her that the girl’s ability would be assessed in the shallow end of the pool. The mother agreed to let her daughter go on the field trip. Tragically, however, the young girl drowned in the pool as staff members were changing in the locker room.

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Most people have signed a liability release waiver at some point. Often, release waivers are included on the back of concert or sporting event tickets. While the language in these agreements may not be clear to the reader, they are generally enforceable and can prevent an accident victim from holding a company liable – even for their own negligent actions.

With that said, there are limits to the enforceability of Maryland liability release waivers. For example, courts will not enforce a waiver that purports to waive the right to pursue compensation based on a party’s willful, wanton, or reckless negligence. A recent state appellate opinion illustrates how this situation may arise.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed after she was run over by a tow-truck on the Daytona International Speedway. Apparently, employees of the facility directed the tow-truck driver to back up into a restricted non-spectator area. However, as the driver was backing up, he ran over the plaintiff.

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Each year, there are thousands of Maryland sports injuries, ranging from the relatively minor to the life-threatening. For the most part, when someone decides to take up a sport, they should know that certain risks are inherent in the sport. However, at the same time, participants should also be able to expect that the league that organizes the sport has created a set of rules that protects the players from unnecessary risks that are not inherent to the sport.

In a recent case issued by a federal appellate court, the court discussed a plaintiff’s claim that was brought against a youth water polo league. The plaintiff claimed that the league’s lack of rules regarding concussion-management and when an injured player should return to play resulted in her daughter’s serious post-concussion syndrome.

The Facts

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was the mother of a student who suffered severe post-concussion syndrome after competing in a three-day water polo tournament put on by the defendant organizers. Evidently, the plaintiff’s daughter was a goalie and, during the first day of play, was struck in the head with the ball. The plaintiff’ daughter was “dazed” as a result of the injury, and swam poolside to talk to her coach. Having no experience or training on concussion-management for young athletes, the coach allowed the girl to continue playing. Throughout the remainder of the tournament, the girl was struck in the head several more times.

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