Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue for many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs. The case arose after a truck accident in which the plaintiff, a woman originally from Mexico without a valid work permit for the United States, was injured in an accident with a truck driver. The case required the court to discuss whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial after defense counsel made several veiled comments regarding the plaintiff’s immigration status.

Semi-TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when the defendant truck driver made an allegedly improper lane change into the plaintiff’s vehicle. Many facts in the case were contested, with the plaintiff and defendant each maintaining different stories of how the accident occurred.

As a part of the plaintiff’s case, she had a medical expert testify regarding her injuries and what treatment she would likely need in the future, as well as the cost of that treatment. During cross-examination of that witness, defense counsel asked the expert if he was aware if the plaintiff was going to “move back” to Mexico. Defense counsel made another reference to the fact that the plaintiff spoke primarily Spanish and only limited English.

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When a jury returns a verdict in a plaintiff’s favor, the jury will then move to the next stage of the process where it determines the appropriate amount of damages that the plaintiff or plaintiffs are entitled to. In most Maryland personal injury cases, the figure the jury arrives at will be given great respect by the trial judge, and will only be modified under certain circumstances. A recent truck accident case illustrates the level of deference that judges give to jury verdicts.

Car on FireThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff lost his wife and daughter, and his son was seriously injured, when the three were involved in a serious accident. The plaintiff’s wife was driving the couple’s two children in the slow lane on the highway when a Fed Ex truck slammed into the back of the family’s car. It was going approximately 65 miles per hour. The collision resulted in the deaths of the plaintiff’s wife and daughter, and seriously injured his nineteen-month-old son.

The plaintiff filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit on behalf of himself and his son against several of the parties involved, including Fed Ex and the driver of the truck who worked for an independent contractor that was retained by Fed Ex. After the case was submitted to a jury, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The verdict was broken down into economic and non-economic damages. The economic damages consisted of about 1-3% of the total damages award.

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While every precaution can be taken to avoid a Maryland school bus accident, some accidents may be unforeseeable. In fact, earlier this year two people were killed and dozens other injured when a school bus attempted to make a legal U-turn across three lanes of traffic. According to a local news report, the bus was traveling in a caravan with two other busses when the drivers missed an exit. Afterwards, all three drivers determined their own route to get to the final destination.

School Bus SafetyOne of the busses attempted to make a U-turn on the highway. However, a dump truck rear-ended the school bus as it tried to cross three lanes of perpendicular traffic to complete its turn. The impact of the collision tore the bus off of its frame.

In the wake of this fatal accident, lawmakers have begun a push to install three-point seatbelts – similar to those found in cars – in all district school busses. Lawmakers believe that by installing seatbelts in school busses, the chance of an accident resulting in serious injury or death will be greatly decreased. Indeed, in the days following this specific accident the National Transportation Safety Board announced its recommendation that all school busses should be equipped with some type of seatbelt for students.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue that commonly arises in Maryland bus accident lawsuits. The case presented the court with the task of determining if the instructions given to the jury regarding the aggravation of the plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries were supported by the evidence presented at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that the defendant’s actions aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition, and thus it reversed the jury’s verdict.

Bus FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a bus when a motorist pulled out in front of the bus, leaving the bus driver with an inadequate distance to stop. The bus collided with the vehicle, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

The plaintiff complained of lower back pain and stiffness, which he claimed was a result of the accident. Ultimately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with disc degeneration. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus.

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When it comes to determining who can bring a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the person or people they believe to be responsible for their injuries, Maryland has one of the strictest laws in the nation. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff who is found even to be at all at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries will be precluded from recovering compensation for their injuries.

Railroad TracksThe alternative, used by most states, is called comparative fault. Under the comparative fault analysis, a plaintiff who is partially at fault can still recover for their injuries; however, their recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. A recent case illustrates how a case may turn out very differently in a state that applies comparative fault versus one that applies contributory negligence.

A Woman’s Husband Is Killed by a Fast-Moving Train

The plaintiff in the case was the surviving spouse of a man who was killed when his truck was crushed by a train at an intersection. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff alleged that the railway was negligent in failing to trim the foliage surrounding the intersection, which obscured motorists’ vision and prevented them from seeing whether a train was coming. The plaintiff also claimed that the employees of the railway were negligent because, from their higher vantage point, they should have seen her husband’s truck at the intersection.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an interesting car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff was entitled to compensation for his medical expenses that were incurred though an out-of-network provider. Ultimately, the court held that an accident victim has the right to choose where to obtain treatment, even if he is insured and chooses an out-of-network provider.

LabcoatThe defendant’s argument that the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages did not convince the court, and the defendant insurance company was on the hook for the sum of the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Although the case arose in another state, the case is important for Maryland truck accident victims because it paves the way for similar arguments to be made in Maryland courts.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seriously injured when another driver struck him while he was changing a flat tire on his motorhome on the side of the road. Initially, the plaintiff obtained medical treatment through a medical care provider that was covered by his insurance. However, after filing a personal injury case, the plaintiff then switched his medical care provider to one that was not covered by his insurance policy.

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Maryland truck accidents are more common than most people believe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Transportation Safety Board (NHTSB) conduct periodic studies that analyze the cause and number of accidents occurring in each state in a given year. Both entities report on which type of vehicle is most likely to be involved in an accident and what the resulting damages are. The studies are periodically released as they are conducted.

Semi TrucksThe most recent report compiled data from 2016 and was published in May 2018. Some startling key findings were that despite stricter standards and more extensive training, truck accidents have been increasing since 2015. In fact, there has been a 5.4 percent increase in individuals killed in large truck accidents from the last study.

For the purposes of the study, a large truck includes any medium or heavy truck, not including buses or motor homes. The gross weight of the vehicles in this study was over 10,000 pounds. On average, dump trucks can carry over 30,000 pounds.

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Maryland has some of the most highly trafficked highways on the East Coast, due to its proximity to several major cities. The likelihood of an accident on a Maryland highway is an unfortunate risk for those traveling through Maryland. Regardless of whether a person is involved in a small fender-bender or a more serious Maryland truck accident, it is important that drivers are aware of their rights and remedies.

Semi-TruckWhile it may be tempting to avoid calling law enforcement after a minor accident, it is very important that motorists report their accident. In some instances, it may be advisable to report it to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration as well.

A person who suffers an injury or property damage will likely report their accident to their insurance company, but that may not actually cover all of their damages. In these instances, a person should consider contacting a Maryland personal injury attorney and filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries. In most personal injury cases, a person has to file their claim within three years, but there are some exceptions that would require a claim to be filed earlier.

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The chances are that anyone who has spent much time driving on Maryland’s highways has seen the remnants of an improperly secured load of cargo lying on the side of the highway. Often, a driver may not notice that they have lost part of their load, or the driver may make the conscious decision to keep on moving to avoid the hazard and potential liability from trying to remove the spilled cargo from the highway.

Cement PipesWhatever the cause may be, spilled cargo can easily result in a serious Maryland traffic accident. Indeed, the American Automobile Association estimates that there are over 200,000 accidents each year caused by road debris, including approximately 500 fatalities. This figure includes accidents that are caused by the ubiquitous remains of shredded tires resulting from semi-truck tire blowouts.

Most of the time, spilled cargo falls from vehicles with open-air beds, such as pick-up trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, and garbage trucks. But on occasion, a semi-truck driver fails to properly secure the rear doors, and cargo can spill out the back of the truck. In any event, a driver who fails to properly secure their load can be held liable for any injuries caused as a result of the spillage. A truck driver may also be liable if the remnants from their shredded tire cause an accident, but locating the owner of such remnants often proves to be difficult.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case discussing the admissibility of certain evidence presented by the defense. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was properly excluded and affirmed the $1.2 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case is important for Maryland public transit accident victims because it illustrates the importance of expert testimony, as well as the importance of keeping potentially harmful evidence out of the jury’s consideration.

Bus WindowThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a public transportation vehicle. Although the damage to each vehicle was minor, the plaintiff suffered lingering injuries as a result, including bulging discs.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the transportation authority, arguing that the negligence of the driver caused his injuries. In its defense, the transportation authority presented the testimony of an expert witness who planned on testifying regarding the “severity of the impact.” Evidently, the expert’s area of study involved the forces that are present in car accidents and how those forces relate to commonly experienced forces someone may experience in everyday life. The expert was not to present any medical evidence or opinion.

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