Baltimore County has historically been considered a below average jurisdiction for plaintiffs pursuing personal injury claims. Jurors in this county have given awards that are by some counts about 75% of what tort victims recover from juries throughout the rest of Maryland, and less than half of what the awards are in Baltimore City and Prince George's County.Baltimore County Juries Are Kinder to Victims Than Many Believe
If you believe this hype, this county is a graveyard where injury suit go to die. The Baltimore Sun wrote an interesting piece a little while back titled "Baltimore County Juries Buck Trend of Big Awards." The byline to the article was, "Average for medical malpractice, personal injury payouts lower than state figure; 'You don't see runaway verdicts.'"
The premise of the article was that Baltimore County was the most difficult county to get fair compensation. We disagree. Victims absolutely can get a fair trial in Towson.
Our law firm, Miller & Zois, has had a different experience in this county. Our lawyers have had a number of outstanding results for clients seeking compensation in this jurisdiction. One verdict our lawyers obtained in Baltimore County received national exposure in Lawyers Weekly USA based largely on Baltimore County's known reputation for not giving plaintiffs in accident cases the benefit of the doubt (and there were some problematic facts in the case).
We also just got a real nice verdict in 2013 which you will see below and have settled a good number of Baltimore County cases in 2014. Our strategy has been to spurn conventional wisdom that you should pick the "dumbest" jury you can get in a Baltimore County case and pick a smart, balanced jury that has the fortitude to wait to hear all of the evidence before reaching a conclusion.
Moreover, if you buy into this "this is a terrible place for tort claims" nonsense, you become an patsy that is an easy mark for the insurance companies to dictate the terms of a settlement. You have to fight back and believe you can win.How Baltimore County Circuit Court Works
In Baltimore County injury cases, the parties attend a settlement conference after the close of discovery. Settlement conferences are done at the courthouse in Towson and are typically conducted by retired judges. The judge acts as a mediator in an effort to resolve the case. These settlement conferences are often helpful in getting the parties to reach a resolution.
Until very recently, the trial date was set shortly after the lawsuit was filed. But in recent years, the court has struggled to get trials off as scheduled, creating scheduling problems in personal injury cases for the accident lawyers, the injured victims, and the experts scheduled to testify.
The new plan for less complex personal injury cases is that the trial date will not be set until after a settlement conference and the Court believes that all non-trial disposition possibilities - including mediation and arbitration - have been reasonably explored. In more complicated personal injury accident cases, called civil extended standard cases, the practice of scheduling the trial after the filing of the lawsuit will continue, and you will get a trial date when the original scheduling order is issued. (Click here for a sample Baltimore County Circuit Court scheduling order in a personal injury auto accident case).
This county also has changed how attorney motions are heard and handled in all cases, including accident cases. Previously, all attorney motions filed without a request for a hearing were referred to the daily chambers judge.
Attorney motions filed with a hearing request were scheduled on the monthly motions docket on the last Monday of every month, if the hearing was expected to take less than 15 minutes. If the motions hearing was expected to last longer than fifteen minutes, it was scheduled on the daily docket. Now, all dispositive motions - motions that will end all or part of the lawsuit - need to be scheduled (regardless of the length of time) either on the civil or domestic daily dockets. Accordingly, all attorney motions for summary judgment and motions to dismiss are now set for a hearing approximately 30 days from the at-issue date. At the same time, these attorney motions will be pre-assigned to a judge by the Central Assignment Office. All non-dispositive motions filed in personal injury cases are referred by the Civil Assignment Office to the chambers judge. If the chambers judge believes a hearing on a motion is necessary, the Civil Assignment Office will schedule an attorney motions hearing within 14 days.Sample Baltimore County Verdicts and Settlements
These are recent personal injury jury verdicts and settlements in Baltimore County. These suits were not chosen using any methodology. Some are Miller & Zois cases, others are cases handled by attorneys we know, and some were obtained from reported verdicts and out-of-court settlements. Do these verdicts help you better understand the value of your case? These verdicts might shed some light on the value of your Baltimore County claim. But keep in mind they also might mislead you because it is impossible to summarize all of the relevant facts of a case in a single paragraph. The failure or success of these cases might have hinged on a fact completely unrelated to the facts set out in these descriptions.
- 2014: $135,000 Settlement: A Baltimore County church parking lot was the location where Plaintiff, an elderly woman, was struck as Defendant drove around a blind corner. As a result, the Plaintiff suffered a severe right knee fracture, and suffered an equally severe loss to her quality of life. Defendant denied that her vehicle came in actual contact with the Plaintiff, stating that she was able to stop prior to a collision. The case settled prior to settled prior to trial, in a mediation. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- 2013: $217,000 Verdict Defendant driver leaves St. Agnes Hospital emergency room just minutes before the car crash, and just after taking Oxycodone for a very minor surgical procedure. He is told not to drive. He passes out and slams Plaintiff’s small car into the jersey wall. Plaintiff suffers a shoulder impingement syndrome and undergoes arthroscopic shoulder surgery which includes a biceps tenotomy. MRI of the lumbar spine two months post collision reveals two disc herniations and degenerative disc disease. State Farm fights on liability and Plaintiff's past medical history which includes shoulder complaints, lower back complaints, and diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. State Farm offers $25,000.00 to settle the case, waiting four days before the case is set for trial. The jury awards damages more than 8 times the State Farm's offer. Miller & Zois won this case. (Find more State Farm verdicts our firm has won here.)
- June 2013, Maryland: $90,000 Verdict: A 44 year-old ophthalmologist was riding his bicycle with three friends on Cold Bottom Road in Baltimore County. When the cyclists became aware of a vehicle approaching from behind, they formed a single file line with the ophthalmologist in the lead. When the vehicle approached the front of the line, the man’s bicycle went off the road. The fall from the bike resulted in the man needing treatment for a concussion, as well as injuries to his right shoulder, clavicle, right elbow, left wrist and both knees. He sued the driver and his insurance company, Allstate, for motor vehicle negligence. Plaintiff claimed he had no recollection of the accident, but his fellow cyclists testified that as the defendant passed the bikers, he increasingly grew closer to each cyclist before ultimately running the plaintiff off the road. They were unable to state whether or not there was contact between the plaintiff’s bicycle and the defendant’s vehicle. The defendant denied running the plaintiff off the road and claimed that the plaintiff merely lost control of his bicycle, making him negligent as well. The matter proceeded to trial where a Baltimore County jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $90,000 for damages. Miller & Zois won this case.
- 2012: $761,782 Verdict. Plaintiff undergoes an emergency C-section. A routine CT scan four days later reveals a bowel obstruction. The Defendant doctor refers Plaintiff for treatment, but before treatment is received, Plaintiff suffers a bowel obstruction requiring emergency surgery. Plaintiff claims the Defendant medical providers failed to provide timely treatment and the resulting surgery (and recovery time) deprived Plaintiff of vital bonding time with her newborn daughter. Defendants argues they did not breach the standard of care by referring Plaintiff to another physician. A Baltimore County jury sides with the Plaintiff and awards $761,782.
- 2012: $1 Million Verdict. Plaintiff alleges medical malpractice after losing vision in both eyes while under the care of the Defendant doctor. Plaintiff suffers from diabetic retinopathy and argues that while the vision in her left eye could not have been salvaged, Defendant failed to provide adequate treatment for her right eye for over one year. Plaintiff lost vision in her right eye during that time. Defendant argues that he provided adequate and conservative treatment, but that Plaintiff’s heart condition contributed to her blindness. A Baltimore County jury awards Plaintiff $1,000,000 plus interests and costs.
- 2010: $663,000 Verdict. An 18 year old female pedestrian is struck as she is walking across the driveway entrance to a fast food restaurant on York Road in Baltimore County. A classic texting while driving case. The Defendant driver, insured with State Farm, is texting while leaving the restaurant. She does not stop to render aid and flees the scene. Defendant is later apprehended by the police. Plaintiff sustains various soft tissue injuries to her body, the most severe of which is a knee injury. She is treated by three different orthopedic surgeons. The last surgeon finally uncovers internal damage to her knee and she undergoes knee surgery. Unfortunately, she then develops Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) – a condition resulting in damage to the sympathetic nervous system causing constant pain and burning in her leg. The Plaintiff undergoes a spinal cord stimulator implant to help relieve her pain. She will require subsequent operations to change the battery in the stimulator unit. Defendant admits liability. Pre-trial offer is $20,000. Plaintiff demands policy limits early in the litigation process. Defendant uses no experts of their own but calls one of the Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeons to prove there is no objective knee injury. A jury in Towson awards $663,000. Miller & Zois tried this case for our very deserving client.
- Get more Baltimore County jury verdicts and settlements
One issue that is frequently debated by plaintiffs' lawyers is whether a victim is better off filing suit in Baltimore County or filing in U.S. federal court in Baltimore. There is no "one size fits all" answer but It probably depends on the case.
The case can be made that a federal jury in Baltimore will give a higher damage award for the same case venued in Towson. But the federal judges are often more conservative and quickly to throw out a case on summary judgment before it even gets to the jury. So it really depends on how straightforward the case is on the defendant's negligence. If liability is clear, federal court might be the best place to be. Conversely, if you are introducing complex theories where the science or medicine of your case is novel, you are probably better off keeping he case in the county.Hiring a Lawyer for Your Case
Last year, our firm recovered over $15 million for our clients in settlements and verdicts. We have successfully handled scores of cases for clients in Baltimore County, including Timonium, Towson, Cockeysville, Catonsville, Arbutus, Perry Hall, Dundalk, Essex, and Owings Mills. If you need an advocate for your case, call 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation.More on Baltimore County Personal Injury Cases
- Sample Baltimore County Circuit Court Scheduling Order
- Getting a Police Report in this county
- Getting 911 Call Records in this county
- Malpractice Claims