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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

In Williams v. Baltimore City, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland examined the establishment of actual or constructive notice. The court found that the mere fact that a municipality knows of a defective hydrant does not ordinarily include notice of a particular danger. Rather, there must be actual or constructive notice of a particular defect that caused the injury. The court concluded that there was no error in granting summary judgment in favor of the municipality because the plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that a leaking hydrant created a dangerous roadway condition that caused her accident, even though the plaintiff did provide evidence that the hydrant itself was defective.

Factual Background

This is a car accident case.  The plaintiff hit her brakes as another car pulled in front of her on Franklin Square Drive near its intersection with Balistan Street in Baltimore City.  Her car swayed and she lost control and her car ended up on its side.  The fire department had to cut her out of the vehicle. She sought immediate treatment at Franklin Square Hospital .

The Maryland Court of Appeals is still working during the coronavirus shutdown.  The court put out a new opinion Monday in Nationwide v. Shilling that addressed the question of when the 3-year statute of limitations begins to run on a claim for underinsured motorist benefits.

The gist of the court’s holding is good for plaintiffs.  The court found that a claim for underinsured motorist benefits is basically a breach of contract action. So the statute of limitations begins to run when the insurance carrier breaches the contract by denying the insured’s UIM claim.  Our lawyers have always interpreted the law this way.  But we always pretended that the statute of limitations was not extended because even having to fight this issue and win is not worth the trouble of not fighting the issue at all.

But this case has dicta that has two big problems that are very troubling with respect to the insurance company’s ability to modify the statute of limitations in uninsured motorist cases by putting a different statute of limitations in their contracts.  This would be a disaster and lead to a ton of litigation over any issue that is well understood by everyone.

proving fault car accident
Our firm has handled thousands of Maryland car accident cases over the years. As discussed below, the law of negligence in Maryland is somewhat unique compared to most other states and it makes clear proof of fault for an accident more important.  This page will look at some of the unique features of Maryland auto tort law and how to properly manage them in order to recover money in an accident.

Maryland’s “Contributory Negligence” Rule

In Maryland, establishing clear, definitive fault after an auto accident is more important than in other jurisdictions. This is because Maryland is one of only a few remaining states in the country, which has an extremely onerous law called “contributory negligence.”

If you are having back pain after a car crash, you are not alone.  Our law office represents hundreds of victims every year who have suffered back pain — typically low back pain — from a car accident.  I’m hoping this post answers a lot of questions you might have if you have suffered a back injury from a car accident.

What is causing lower back pain after a car accident?

Being involved in a car accident can lead to a wide variety of injuries from bumps and bruises to broken bones and even death. We have handled all of these types of cases too many times. But of all the cases we see, back injuries and the subsequent pain are common consequences of car collisions. If you were involved in a car accident, you may have wondered what caused your lower back pain.

back injury car accidentFirst, whether your vehicle struck another vehicle, a stationary object, or suffered a rollover, a vehicle’s passengers experience a tremendous amount of force during an accident. This force strains muscles, joints, and bones and can cause serious injuries. Even if a passenger is wearing a seatbelt or is protected by an airbag during an accident, the force of car collision can cause a jerking motion often referred to as whiplash.

Last week, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation announced that it is pushing its chips to the center of the table when it comes to speed and red light cameras.

Baltimore has a program called the City’s Automated Traffic Violation Enforcement System (ATVES).  Not so much to me because I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined by speed and running red lights, but ATVES sounds very Orwellian to many Baltimore City drivers. ATVES is in charge of the automated speed trap and red light enforcement cameras in Baltimore City.

ATVES also does something that troubles people less, particularly those who have seen truck accident statistics in this country. It has a Commercial Vehicle Height Monitoring System Camera Program to enforce violations of commercial vehicles traveling on truck restricted roadways in Baltimore City.  We got a million dollar verdict in a case a few years back in no small measure because the jury was annoyed that the truck was in a place that it clearly should not have been.   This system definitely uses some bring brother technology,  using the truck’s height to determine whether the vehicle is over ¾ of a ton).

A disc herniation is a type of disc injury that is frequently caused by car accidents.  The impact of a car accident often exerts significant force and pressure on the spine.  This pressure can cause a tear and rupture or bulge of the spinal discs, which act as pads or cushions for the spine.  This injury is referred to as a herniated disc.  Sometimes, the best treatment for this injury is epidural steroid injections.

Our firm has handled scores and scores of herniated disc injury cases.  Our first trial at Miller & Zois was a herniated disc verdict in 2003.  Our doors had been open for about a month.  The defendant offered $25,000 to settle a no property damage herniated disc injury case where the most aggressive treatment was epidural steroid injections.

Laura Zois and I tried the case. We got a $300,000 verdict.  Our firm has handled these cases ever since.  We have earned millions in settlements and verdicts in herniated disc injury cases.

Insurance companies do not think the way you and I think. But, by understanding how insurance adjusters think and what is important to them, you can maximize how much money you receive in a personal injury case.

What Is the Adjuster’s Goal?

Insurance adjusters are trained to try to rip you off. Although, adjusters do not call it that. They also do not think of it in those terms. But, they are not charged with the task of making a reasonable settlement offer to you. An insurance adjuster’s mission is to pay you as little money as possible to settle your claim, which allows the insurance company to keep as much of its money as it can.

baltimore police cooperation accident casesAnybody 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

children seat beltsBy watching TV commercials, it seems that rear-facing backup cameras are all the rage in new trucks and SUV’s. They are supposed to reduce the risk of hurting a child, animal, or anything else that can be behind the vehicle but is short enough that you can’t readily see it through the rear window. But back over injuries or fatalities may not really be as big of a problem as the commercials would have you believe, particularly when compared to the number of child fatalities that are caused by children being improperly restrained- not using a seatbelt, booster chair, or car seat. The article also argues that the cost of the cameras may not be justified because back-over injuries are not as big of a problem as people think.

According to the article, in 2011 “back-overs” caused 79 child deaths.  You cannot minimize 79 dead children. Each one is a tragedy. Everyone in Baltimore cried with Todd Heap after his tragedy. (Not for nothing, but it probably saved some injuries and lives.  I know I back into my garage very differently as a result.)  And I would push back on the idea that backup cameras are not worth the $2 billion.  Consumers like them, and they are saving injuries and deaths every year under any calculation.

But in the same year, 371 unrestrained children under 15 died in car wrecks. I only see these backup cameras in new, usually expensive vehicles. If I am reading the graph in the article correctly, if backup cameras were required in all new vehicles, the estimated cost would be over 2 billion dollars a year. I wonder what it would cost (if it’s even possible) to install something that wouldn’t let you drive the car if a child was unbuckled or unrestrained?

Nobody ever calls me because something good happened. That’s an unfortunate reality for lawyers in my line of work.

Every time the phone rings, it is because something bad happened. At best, the bad thing is a totaled car and a painful, but treatable, injury. At worst, the bad thing is a catastrophic injury or the death of a loved one. Empathy is an emotional quality that is a job requirement for personal injury lawyers. If I can’t imagine myself in my client’s shoes, how can I hope to tell their story to a jury in a compelling, persuasive way? I don’t think I could.

Of course, I also need to retain my objectivity so that I can give my client sound, well-reasoned legal advice. Decisions such as whether to settle (or for how much) or to press on to trial should not be clouded by being too close to the case. That’s why it is a bad idea for lawyers to represent close friends or family members. I have been doing this kind of work for a long time, and I think I can generally balance the right amounts of empathy and objectivity to get the best results for my clients.