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Hypoxic-Ischemic perinatal encephalopathy (“HIE” for short) is loss of oxygen to the brain.  In slightly less than half of the cases, HIE can cause death or brain injuries.

What Causes HIE?

Obviously, the brain is the key to neurological function.  The brain commands and controls all of our essential actions and reactions.  This includes sending messages via neurotransmitters to control all of a person’s essential cognitive and physical functions.

The trucking business is a dog-eat-dog world.

Shippers want to get their products moved as cheaply as possible.  Smaller trucking companies are often the best choice to keep cost down.  Smaller trucking companies.  They have low overhead and simpler systems. Many trucking companies — usually smaller trucking companies — have less systemic checks and balances.  And they cut corners — safety corners — like crazy to keep costs down.

As a result of all of this, truck accidents happen.  Too many plaintiffs’ truck accident lawyers leave millions on the table because they do not explore potential claims against the brokers and shippers.

cross-examinationThe most important part of a personal injury trial is the plaintiff’s testimony.  Specifically, the most critical part of a trial is the personal injury plaintiff’s direct examination.  If it doesn’t go well when you are in total control of the process and the facts, it will be nearly impossible to get a favorable damages award. We believe in thoroughly preparing the plaintiff to testify, both on direct and cross-examination.  I would not be surprised to learn that our firm spends more time on direct examination preparation that any firm in Maryland.

Witness preparation is a broad term that covers any communication between a lawyer and a prospective witness done to get the most favorable possible substance or presentation of trial testimony.  It also helps the lawyer know precisely what the witness is going to say on direct examination.

By the time the trial draws near, most experienced personal injury lawyers will have a pretty good idea of what’s out there as far as potential cross-examination material. This comes from a variety of sources: interrogatory answers, medical records, deposition testimony, prior medical history, etc.  But you really do not know what someone is going to say until the tell you what they are going to say.  And, as experienced trial lawyers know, even then you are still not entirely sure what will come out of the witness’ mouth.

social-medi-300x256You know what’s funny about stuff you post on the internet? It’s public, and that means people can see it. This includes those you would rather not see it. For example, if you are a disability claimant, you may want to forego that chance to post a video on Youtube of yourself half-naked, covered in tin foil, breakdancing to “Magic Carpet Ride.” Once somebody sees it, you could have a problem with your total disability claim.

This is also very important for people who are making a personal injury claim. Nowadays just about everybody has some form of social media account, and just about all of them give the user the ability to post pictures or video. As a personal injury lawyer, increasingly I am seeing defense attorneys checking my clients out on the web, including social media accounts. Defense attorneys also seek access to these accounts in discovery. I always object to producing social media login information, and so far I have not yet had anyone take the issue before a judge.  Even posts without pictures that describe what you are doing or how you are feeling can be easily taken out of context.

But I do advise all of my clients that they should stay off social media entirely while they have a pending claim.  If that’s not possible, they should careful to never post anything that is even arguably inconsistent with the claim they are making- even to the extent of not posting a picture of yourself at a wedding, or outdoors smiling. It is very easy for that to be taken out of context.

Certainly, given their preference, plaintiffs’ lawyer will choice PG County or Baltimore City as the venue for almost any Maryland accident case.

If our case is not in Baltimore, we want to be in P.G County if I have a Maryland traffic accident case.

The difference cannot be understated.  There are other differences unrelated to the harm caused that make a difference like the type of case (e.g., auto versus malpractice), the likability of the parties, and whether the defendant is a person or a corporation or hospital.  But if you could have the same case in Prince George’s County or the Eastern Shore, There are some cases where the trial value of the claim might be worth twice as much.

Md-reporter-1Anybody who has seen the fantastic HBO series The Wire knows that the Baltimore Police have more than enough to do. Even with the recent drop in Baltimore’s murder rate, our police are still very busy.  The problem is not that they are offended by a subpoena.

This can cause problems for Baltimore injury lawyers who need police officers to appear in court for trials of injury cases. Because of the crushing workload these officers face, it can be difficult to contact them to serve a subpoena or to arrange for testimony.

Best Way to Get a Police Officer to Your Trial

miller-zois_0144-200x300Lawyers who do not regularly handle injury cases from truck accidents often think it is simply another car accident case, only with bigger vehicles. This could not be more wrong. Trucking accident injury cases have different factual and legal issues than car accident cases.

Although the factual differences are many, they will be addressed in a later post. This post is about some of the legal issues that are important in a truck accident case.

When they become involved in a lawsuit over a car crash, most people think it would be very helpful to their case if the other driver had a bad driving history, such as traffic violations or prior at-fault accidents. Of course, that would only be helpful if the jury ever found out about it. Usually they won’t. That is because generally, the only issues at play in a car accident case are 1) was the drviver negligent; and 2) damages. Prior driving history is usually not relevant to either of these issues, and therefore isn’t admissible in evidence. For laymen, the jury isn’t told about prior driving history because it doesn’t have anything to do with whether the bad guy was negligent that day, or with the proper amount of damages.

twitter-300x198In the last few years, the use of social media has increasingly become an issue in the legal field. We are seeing social media being used as evidence in civil and criminal trials. There have been recent Maryland appellate opinions on how to admit evidence of social media use.

Social media is a good place for juror conduct that completely screws up a trial. In the good ole days, jurors who communicated inappropriately during a trial did so verbally.  Of course, this was hard to trace and prove.  Improper verbal communications could lead to a mistrial.  But it was so hard to make this case from an evidentiary standpoint.   You needed live testimony from witnesses.  With social media, you can just wave the tweets and posts in front of the judge.

There have also been cases involving social media use by jurors. Here in Baltimore, there was an issue in the sensational Sheila Dixon trial about jurors becoming Facebook “friends” with one another. It has now become commonplace for jurors to be instructed that they are not to discuss their jury service on social media during the trial.

For many lawyers, iPads have become indispensable for a wide variety of my litigation tasks. There are some things that I will never do the “old fashioned way” again. So I thought I would share a few of the ways this new technology has made my life easier.

Motions hearings/Pre-trial conferences: I rarely take a paper file to simple motions hearings or Pre-trial conferences. I will usually bring a courtesy copy of the Pre-trial statement or the motion at issue for the Court, just in case it hasn’t made it into the file. Otherwise, the only paper I bring is a legal pad. For a motions hearing, I use Dropbox to send .pdf copies of the motions, responses and replies, the cited case law, and my argument outline directly to my iPad. I have everything I could need available to me in an instant, without fumbling through a file jacket or flipping through a long opinion to find a particular passage. This makes my argument quicker and more organized, and gives me an advantage when the Court has a question about something that I may not know off the top of my head- I can generally find whatever it is and be able to respond more quickly than if I were using a traditional file.

Depositions: I do these in a very similar fashion to a motions hearing. When I do my deposition prep, I load any pleadings, deposition transcripts, medical records or produced documents onto the iPad (again, using Dropbox). My deposition outline goes on there too. It’s really a great way to carry 1500 pages of Bates-stamped medical records without lugging a long a 20 pound trial case. The only other thing I take is a leather presentation folder with a legal pad in it. Also in the folder are pre-printed copies of any photos or documents that I plan to use as exhibits.

Michie-Annotated-Code-225x300One thing we are seeing defense attorneys do more and more is using a Md. Rule 2-422 Request for Production to try to get plaintiffs to sign authorization forms permitting the defense to access medical and other information without a subpoena. For them, it’s a more efficient (some might say lazy) way to obtain the same material they could get by serving a subpoena on the person who has whatever records they want. For plaintiffs, it’s allowing the defense free license to root through anything they want without worrying about the protections afforded plaintiffs under the Maryland Rules and the Health-General Code.

Because we see this so often, I imagine there must be personal injury lawyers out there who allow their clients to sign them.  We have too, on occasion.  You want to be reasonable.  There are circumstances where there is wisdom in having the client to sign a defense authorization. In some cases we don’t have a choice. In first-party claims against an insurance carrier for UM/UIM benefits, for example, the carrier often arguably has a contractual right to obtain an authorization written into the policy. Or if the records being sought are maintained out of state (and therefore outside the subpoena power of a Maryland court) we will often agree to an authorization, as long as it includes appropriate limitations that we have approved in advance, like excluding records about mental health, substance abuse, or STD/HIV/AIDS treatment. If they don’t agree to our requested conditions, they are welcome to get an out-of-state subpoena issued the hard way.

It makes no sense to make opposing counsel’s life difficult just for the heck of it.  But that is not what we are doing here. We cannot just give away our clients’ privacy protections under the law for no good reason, and that is what I would be doing by allowing my clients to sign these broadly-drafted defense authorizations.

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