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Recently, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case raising an important issue that comes up regularly in Maryland personal injury cases that are filed against a government agency or official. Specifically, the case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether a police officer’s actions were considered a discretionary act. Ultimately, the court determined that the officer’s actions were not covered under discretionary-act immunity, and permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed against the city.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured after his vehicle was struck by a police cruiser that was responding to an emergency call. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the police cruiser made a left turn against a red traffic signal, colliding with the plaintiff’s vehicle. It was agreed that the officer would not have been able to see oncoming traffic as he approached the intersection, but it was disputed whether the officer’s lights and sirens were on at the time he entered the intersection.

The plaintiff subsequently brought a personal injury claim against the city that employed the officer, arguing that the city was vicariously liable for the officer’s negligent actions. The city successfully argued to the trial court that it was entitled to government immunity because the officer was engaged in a discretionary act that was within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The plaintiff appealed.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a casino could be held liable for the injuries sustained by an independent contractor when he fell from a ladder while working on the building’s roof. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show that the defendant casino was in “operational control” over the plaintiff’s actions.

The case raises an important issue that frequently arises in many Maryland personal injury cases involving claims filed by independent contractors or claims based on an independent contractor’s negligence.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff worked for a maintenance company that was contracted by the defendant casino to clean the casino’s air ducts. The air ducts were located on the roof of the casino, and prior to the beginning of the contract the casino specified where the maintenance workers would access the roof.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue that frequently comes up in Maryland product liability cases involving defective or unsafe food products. The case required the court to determine the appropriate standard by which a plaintiff’s food-poisoning case is held to at the summary judgment level. Ultimately, the court concluded that food-poisoning cases are no different from any other type of negligence case, and plaintiffs bringing this type of case should not be held to a higher burden. If you believe you’ve experienced an injury as a result of a defect in some mass-produced product, it’s beneficial to have a Maryland products liability attorney at your side to evaluate your case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were two wedding guests who became very ill after eating the food at a wedding rehearsal dinner that was catered by the defendant restaurant. In support of their claim, the plaintiffs presented evidence showing that one of the plaintiffs tested positive for salmonella, that other wedding guests also tested positive for salmonella, that other guests began feeling ill around the same time as the plaintiffs, and that a total of 16-20 other guests reported eventually feeling ill.

The defendant restaurant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs were unable to establish that their illness was caused by the defendant’s food. In support of its position, the restaurant argued that the plaintiffs ate food that was prepared by others around the same time that they consumed the defendant’s food, that the plaintiffs did not experience any symptoms until three days after they ate the food, and that there were many other wedding guests who ate the food but did not become ill.

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As a general rule, the law requires that all land owners maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition, and warn their guests about hazards that may not be evident. Under Maryland premises liability law, the duty a landowner owes her guest depends on several circumstances; however, Maryland businesses owe their customers the highest duty of care.

While premises liability law may seem straightforward, it can often get complicated in its application. For example, while it’s beyond question that a business owner is responsible to maintain their store in a reasonably safe condition, what about the approach to and from the store?

A recent state appellate opinion discusses a plaintiff’s case against a store for an injury occurring in the store’s parking lot.

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The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) allows for certain Maryland personal injury cases to be filed against the state and local governments. However, under the MTCA, cases that name government employees or agencies as defendants are subject to additional procedural requirements.

Under Maryland Code section 12-106, an injury victim must first file a claim with the State Treasurer before they can proceed with a personal injury case. Additionally, the following requirements must be met:

  • The claim must be filed within one year of the incident and must provide the basis for the claim;
  • The claim must be denied by the Treasurer; and
  • Any subsequent personal injury case must be filed within three years of the date of the accident.

In the event that a claimant fails to comply with these requirements, the court may still hear the case unless the state can establish that it has been prejudiced as a result of the plaintiff’s failure to submit a claim.

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Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit affirming a jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case presents important issues for Maryland accident victims in that it illustrates the “failure to warn” theory of product liability.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a crane operator who worked in a whip yard. One day, the plaintiff was working to move the bow of a ship with several other cranes in what is called a “tandem lift” involving multiple cranes.  The lift began as planned, but at some point during the process, two of the cranes began to separate from one another.

As the cranes separated, the stack of counterweights on the crane being operated by the plaintiff began to shift. This caused one of the 18,000-pound counterweights to crash into the cab area of the crane, knocking the plaintiff out of the cab to the concrete eight feet below. The plaintiff survived, but suffers from serious, lifelong physical and mental disabilities.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a woman who tripped on a raised portion of the sidewalk that was maintained by the defendant city. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to prove that the city should have been aware of the defect’s existence.The case discusses the concept of “constructive notice,” which is important in Maryland personal injury cases. Generally speaking, a Maryland slip-and-fall plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant landowner knew or should have known of the hazard that caused their injuries. However, establishing that a party had actual knowledge of a hazard can be difficult because it would require the plaintiff to be able to see inside the mind of the defendant.

Thus, courts allow for plaintiffs to circumstantially establish knowledge of a hazard through other relevant facts. This concept is called constructive knowledge. Essentially, the idea is that courts are comfortable imputing knowledge when a reasonably attentive person would have noticed the hazard.
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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising several important issues that commonly arise in Maryland premises liability lawsuits. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed following a defense motion for summary judgment. Finding that the plaintiff could not establish the necessary elements of her case, the court affirmed the dismissal of her case.The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting the defendant fast-food restaurant with a few family members. The plaintiff’s nephew parked in the restaurant’s parking lot, and the group crossed the drive-thru lane and entered the restaurant.

When it came time to leave, they left the same way they had come in. However, this time, as the plaintiff approached her nephew’s car, she got distracted by one of the cars in the drive-thru lane. As she returned her attention to where she was going, she tripped and fell on a cement parking barrier, resulting in serious injuries. The barrier, which was a few inches high, was the type used to prevent vehicles from parking too far into a parking space.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the state’s recreational use statute, and whether it applied to bar the plaintiff’s claim against the defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the recreational-use statute did not apply because the defendant’s land was not offered for public use. The case is important for Maryland premises liability plaintiffs in that it discusses a key element of a defendant’s recreational-use defense.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the son of the defendant (Father), and was injured on his father’s land while hunting. Father owned about 40 acres, and allowed his immediate family to use the property to hunt. Father excluded other members of the community, extended family members, and friends of his children from using the land to hunt.

Father had constructed several blinds from which hunters could hide and wait for animals to approach. One day, the plaintiff was hunting on Father’s land when a wooden board came loose from the blind, and the plaintiff fell 16 feet to the ground below. The plaintiff broke both his legs as a result of the fall, and filed a personal injury lawsuit against his father.

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All Maryland land owners have a duty to make sure that they maintain a safe premises for those whom they invite onto their property. If a property owner fails to fix a known hazard, or fails to warn visitors about a dangerous condition of the property, the landowner may be held liable for any injuries through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

Not all injuries that occur on another’s land, however, will result in the landowner being held liable; an injury victim must be able to establish the elements of a premises liability lawsuit in order to recover for their injuries. Traditionally, these lawsuits are governed by the common-law principle of negligence, which requires plaintiffs to establish that the landowner violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. In addition, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant’s violation of that duty was the cause of their injuries.

When it comes to defending against Maryland premises liability cases, landowners often make two arguments. First, that they were unaware of the hazard and thus did not have the opportunity to fix it. And second, that the hazard was known to the plaintiff or was so obvious that no duty arose to warn the plaintiff about it. A recent case illustrates the second of these two examples.

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