Last month, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding the validity of insurance policy exclusions in situations where the insured might reasonably expect to be covered. The opinion is of particular import because most insured's don't read their policy in any detail and therefore don't know what coverage exclusions it might contain.
In Stickley v. State Farm, the plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband when he negligently drove into an intersection and collided with another car. The husband was killed in the accident and the plaintiff suffered severe injury. The plaintiff and husband had a motor vehicle liability insurance policy with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, and an umbrella policy with its subsidiary State Farm Fire and Casualty Company.
Following the accident, the plaintiff filed a claim under both policies. State Farm offered the plaintiff the full amount of coverage under the motor vehicle liability insurance policy, but denied coverage under the umbrella policy, citing an exclusion that precluded coverage for bodily injury resulting from the negligence of another insured household member.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit to have the exclusion invalidated, claiming that Maryland Code § 19-504.1 requires insurers to provide the same amount of liability coverage under private passenger motor vehicle liability insurance to family members and non-family members. The plaintiff contended that, because State Farm did not offer equal coverage to both her and her husband, the exclusion in the umbrella policy was void.
The Court of Appeals determined that the exclusion was valid because the umbrella policy was supplemental to the motor vehicle liability insurance policy and was therefore, by definition, not a private passenger motor vehicle liability insurance policy that would fall under the purview of Maryland Code § 19-504.1.
This was not where the Court of Appeals analysis ended, however, as it also had to determine whether the exclusion in the umbrella policy violated public policy. The Court recognized that, generally, parties are permitted to contractually bind themselves as they see fit. However, when a contractual provision violates public policy the offensive provision is invalid.
The Court held that it would be a violation of public policy to enforce a household exclusion in a situation where an insured has not offered coverage for claims of family members equal to that for non-family members under a private passenger motor vehicle liability policy.
In determining that the exclusion at issue was not contrary to public policy, however, the Court concluded that the Maryland General Assembly did not intend to eliminate household exclusions altogether, but rather merely required insurers to offer the insured an opportunity to purchase liability limits for family members equal to that for non-family members.
As evidenced by the Court's opinion in Stickley, it is of the utmost importance for an individual to review and understand the terms and conditions of his or her insurance policy to avoid ending up in a situation where coverage is denied based upon an overlooked exclusion.
The attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured in car accidents and are forced to deal with an uncooperative insurance company. If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of another, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
Last month, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding the validity of insurance policy exclusions in situations where the insured might reasonably expect to be covered. The opinion is of particular import because most insured's don't read their policy in any detail and therefore don't know what coverage exclusions it might contain.
A few months ago, this blog discussed the controversial Maryland Court of Appeals decision in Tracey v. Solesky, which singled out pit bulls as an "inherently dangerous" breed of dog and excluded them from Maryland's traditional "one bite rule."
The one bite rule is a negligence doctrine which states that the owner or keeper of a dog may be held liable for injuries caused by the animal only if he has actual or constructive knowledge of its ferocious or dangerous propensities. Accordingly, most dogs are afforded "one bite" before they are known to have a ferocious or dangerous propensity. Most other states have adopted strict liability statutes with regard to dog bites that impose liability on the owner even when they are not at fault for the attack.
In Tracey, the Court held that it was no longer necessary for a pit bull's owner to know that the dog is dangerous because "its aggressive and vicious nature and capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries" makes them inherently dangerous.
In February, the Maryland House of Delegates introduced a new bill that would do away with the one bite rule in favor of considering all dogs inherently dangerous. If passed, the new legislation would create a presumption that all dog owners, regardless of the canine's breed, would be presumed liable for any injury caused by the animal.
The Maryland Senate later introduced a different bill that includes a provision allowing dog owners to avoid liability by showing by "clear and convincing" evidence that the dog was not dangerous before the incident. The opposition this legislation claimed that this standard of proof was too high and was almost impossible for a dog owner to establish.
Earlier this month, however, the House and Senate changed course by releasing a compromise bill, which would impose strict liability for injuries caused by dogs of any breed to children under the age of 13. The legislation was defeated on the same day it was introduced after a debate between two Montgomery county delegates erupted into shouting match, a vote on the bill was delayed, and it never happened before the midnight adjournment.
One of the bill's strongest opponents, Delegate Benjamin F. Kramer called on Governor Martin O'Malley to call a special session of the General Assembly to address the issue. He stated that the legislature has made a "sincere effort" to correct the Tracey decision, but that "legitimate differences of opinion, as to the appropriate standard for civil liability for dog owners, whose dog inflicts a bite injury on another person, has kept a legislative resolution to this issue from achieving passage."
Dog attacks are particularly dangerous as they can result in severe injury, permanent disfigurement, and, in the worst cases, death. The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing the victims of dog attacks. If you or someone you know has been injured in a dog attack, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
A recently released study led by Dr. Marty Makary, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, attempts to quantify the number of instances of medical malpractice that occur each year in the United States. The study approximates that roughly four thousand surgical "never events" each year across America. "Never events" are occurrences for which there is universal professional agreement that they should never happen during surgery.
The extent and scope of the professional malpractice the study estimates to occur on a weekly basis is staggering. The study calculates that nationwide, surgeons leave a foreign object inside a patient following an operation thirty-nine times each week, perform an incorrect procedure on a patient twenty times each week, and operate on the wrong body part twenty times each week.
The study further estimates that eighty thousand never events took place in U.S. hospitals between 1990 and 2010, but the actual number of such incidents may be higher. Even more unsettling is the fact that this study only addresses never events, as the number of less egregious medical errors is certainly even higher. Indeed, an Institute of Medicine study from 1999 reasoned at least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die each year in hospitals due to preventable medical errors.
The study used the National Practitioner Data Bank ("NPDB"), a federal database of medical malpractice claims, to identify almost ten thousand paid malpractice judgments and claims over between 1990 and 2010. This information was then used to estimate that 4,044 surgical never events occur in the United States each year. Over the twenty year period covered by the study, medical malpractice judgments and claims totaled $1.3 billion, with deaths occurring in 6.6% of patients, permanent injury in 32.9%, and temporary injury in 59.2%.
According to Makary, "There are mistakes in health care that are not preventable...But the events we've estimated are totally preventable. This study highlights that we are nowhere near where we should be and there's a lot of work to be done."
Med Mal Law
All medical professionals and institutions, whether they be doctors, nurses, or hospitals, owe a professional and legal duty to their patients to act with a certain level of care. When a medical professional or institution fails to adhere to the established standard of care, such as in the case of a never event, they may be liable for any injury or death that results from their misconduct.
Surgical errors are just one of several ways in which a negligent medical profession can injure a patient. Other examples include failing to diagnose a serious condition ends up delaying treatment or surgery, birth injuries stemming from improper or negligent medical decisions or monitoring, and prescription medication errors that result in adverse reactions.
The experienced attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have successfully recovered millions of dollars in compensation for individuals injured by the negligence of a medical professionals. If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional or institution, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
Last month, this blog discussed the elements of product liability claims following issuance of a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission press release. That story revolved around the recalling of BlueStar wall ovens due to safety concerns over improperly installations and damaged gas appliance connectors that caused potential fire hazards.
Often, the facts and circumstances underlying product liability claims will give rise to the need to employ a specific legal mechanism to ensure adequate recovery for all the injured individuals. When a large group of people is injured by the actions of a person or company that has designed or manufactured a defective product, it may be in the injured parties' best interest to pursue their legal claims by means of a class action.
A class action is a type of lawsuit that aggregates a number of individuals so that they can litigate their claim or claims as a group. A class must be certified by the court in which the action has been commenced, and, in order for a class to be certified, it must have a set of four articular qualities:
1 Numerosity. The class must be comprised of a number of individuals large enough that it would be impractical to pursue individual lawsuits on each person's behalf. For example, if seven people had been injured by the improperly manufactured ovens discussed above, it would be reasonable to file individual lawsuits for each of them. On the other hand, if seven hundred people were injured by those same ovens, a class action would be necessary to dispose of all the claims in the most efficient manner.
1 Commonality. The members of a class action are required to have common, or similar, legal and factual claims. For instance, if a passenger train crashed and a large number of people were hurt, those people would have common legal and factual claims.
1 Adequacy. A class must designate a person or person to be representative(s) of the class as a whole. These representatives must adequately embody the interests of all the class members.
1 Typicality. The claim or claims of the class representatives must be typical, or characteristic, of the claims of all the members. The Supreme Court determined in General Tel. Co. of Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147 (1982) that class representatives must "possess the same interest and suffer the same injury as the class members."
If any of these four factors is not present, the court can decline to certify the class and litigation, at least as a class, cannot be pursued. Further, before litigation of a class action may begin, all potential class members must be notified. The notice must explain the class action and provide potential class members the chance to "opt out" of the class. Later, if a settlement of the lawsuit is reached, the class members must be notified of the terms of the proposed settlement and given an opportunity to opt out of the settlement.
The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by defective products. If you or someone you know has been injured by a defective product, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
Premises liability is a theory of law that imposes a legal duty upon owners of certain premises to maintain that property in a reasonably safe condition. The most common type of premises liability is the"slip and fall" case, which occurs when a property owner fails to keep his or her premises clear from objects, obstructions, defects, or substances which would pose a danger to visitors. Generally, premises liability claims arise from incidents wherein a customer of a business trips or falls as the result of an icy or slippery surface, uneven pavement, open excavation, or improperly constructed or maintained stairwell.
Premises liability is not, however, a strict liability tort. This means that a property owner is not automatically liable for any and all injuries that occur on his or her property; rather the injured party must prove that the owner knew or should have known of a "defect" in the premises that resulted in the injury. A defect is defined as a condition or characteristic of the premises that poses an unreasonable risk of injury to persons who enter the property.
As stated above, property owners owe their guests a duty to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition which is referred to as their duty of care. The duty of care owed by a property owner varies depending on the nature of the reason why the injured party was on the property. The duty of care falls into the following three categories:
Invitees are persons who enter onto premises for the purpose of conducting business for the benefit of the property owner. Property owners have a duty to invitees to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to repair or warn of known dangerous conditions.
The most common example of an invitee is the patron of a retail store. For instance, grocery stores create dangerous conditions all the time when employees mop or wax floors, making them slippery. The store cannot avoid this hazard unless it stops cleaning its floors. The store can, however, notify patrons of the potentially dangerous condition, therefore satisfying its duty to warn, and avoiding liability for injuries resulting from a fall. Property owners sometimes owe a heightened duty to guarantee the safety of children that may not be able to read or understand warnings or appreciate a particular hazardous situation.
Property owners also owe invitees a duty to regularly inspect their premises in order to discover potentially dangerous conditions. Accordingly, property owners can be found liable for injuries caused by hazards of which they did not have actual knowledge but should have know about.
Licensees are individuals that enter a property for social reasons, such as guests at a party. Property owners owe licensees a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition and to remedy unsafe conditions. Property owners also owe licensees a duty to warn them of known hazards on the property. Unlike an invitee, a licensee is not owed a duty to warn or remedy dangerous conditions that should have been discovered by the property owner.
Despite what any people might thing, property owners do, in face, owe a limited duty to trespassers on their property. Property owners owe trespassers a duty to prevent intentional or reckless injuries. A discovered trespasser, i.e. one that the owner knows is on the property, is also owed a duty to warn of known hazards that the trespasser could not ordinarily detect.
The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC, have extensive experience representing individuals that have been injured as a result of the negligence of property owners. If you or someone you know has been injured on the property of another, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's ("Foundation") recently released Traffic Safety Culture Index, a national survey designed to assess some key indicators of the degree to which traffic safety is valued across America, distracted driving continues to be significant concern and quite common behavior among drivers.
Compiled from surveys conducted in September of 2012 of 3,896 U.S. residents over the age of sixteen, the report determined that, although Americans value safe travel, supporting measures to curtail unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding or driving under the influence, they admit to engaging in those unsafe driving practices themselves.
According to the report, the general public remains very concerned with distracted driving practices, with 88.5% of motorists considering cell phone use while driving a serious threat to driver safety. Further, the surveyed individuals believe the problem is getting worse, as 67.3% responded that distracted driving is of greater concern today than three years ago.
Although most drivers are concerned about distracted driving , the report found that many have adopted a double standard with regard to support of laws prohibiting such behavior, essentially asking others to "do as I say, not as I do." For instance, almost nine in ten drivers (89.1%) surveyed considered it unacceptable to drive ten mph over the speed limit on a residential street. However, of those same individuals, nearly half (46.8%) admitted to having driven ten mph over the speed limit on a residential street in the past 30 days, and another 12.1% admitting they did so fairly often or regularly.
Of greater concern is distracted driving, due in large part to widespread use of cell phones to talk or text while driving. Over two-thirds (68.8%) of drivers surveyed admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past thirty days and almost a third (31.9%)stated they do so fairly often or regularly. These numbers are despite the fact that 57.9% of drivers feel that talking on a cell phone while driving is a very serious threat to their personal safety and 66% consider such behavior unacceptable.
Based upon the results of the report, it appears that the problem of distracted driving is not likely to get better anytime soon. Indeed, with the ever-increasing role that electronic devices play in the lives of the American population, it will likely get worse.
Our legal team encourages all motorists to pay attention when driving and to watch out for distracted drivers. If you, your family or friends have been involved an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may need legal representation to protect your right to compensation.
The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by negligent drivers. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact our office today.
Last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ("USPSC") issued a recall of BlueStar wall ovens manufactured by Prizer Painter Stove Works due to safety concerns. According to the recall, some of the wall ovens were improperly installed and/or have damaged flexible gas appliance connectors, causing a potential fire hazard.
Although no injuries have yet been reported as a result of these defects, there has been at least one report of a fire resulting in property damage. If these products continue in use, it may only be a matter of time before someone is seriously injured. The USPSC recommends that consumers immediately stop using the recalled ovens and contact the manufacturer for instructions to determine whether their unit has been affected and, if so, to schedule a repair.
Hurt By Dangerous Products in Maryland
Under Maryland law, a person that has been injured by a dangerous or defective product may be able to hold the manufacturer, designer, or retailer of that product liable for any resulting harm. The injured party could file a lawsuit commonly known as a product liability claim.
Defective products have been known to cause severe injuries such as burns, head, spine, and neck injuries, lacerations, and concussions, all of which can result in lengthy, and expensive, medical treatment. In addition, if the injury is severe enough, it can prevent the individual from going to work or performing daily activities.
There are three types of product defects from which such a claim can arise:
1. Manufacturing Defect. A manufacturing defect occurs during the manufacturing process and generally results in the defect being present in some of the products that are made. For instance, in the case of the BlueStar wall ovens, a problem with the manufacturing process caused some of them to have been made with damaged flexible gas appliance connectors.
2. Design Defect. A design defect occurs when a mistake in the design of the product causes all of the products manufactured to be defective. For example, if the BlueStar wall ovens were designed to be made with a type of material for the hose that couldn't withstand the heat generated by the oven, that would be a design defect.
3. Warning Defect. A warning defect occurs when a manufacturer fails to advise uses of the product with regard to the potential hazards associated with the product. If, for example, the manufacturer of the BlueStar wall ovens failed to warn consumers that operating it for long periods of time posed a risk of overheating, that would be a warning defect.
Although the USPSC has taken steps to warn consumers of the problems with the BlueStar wall ovens, and it does not appear that any injuries has yet to result from its defect, at least one individual has already suffered some property damage and more harm might follow.
The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by defective products, including automobiles, consumer products, power tools, and aircraft. If you or someone you know has been injured by a defective product, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported that a young boy died after being mauled by a neighbor's pit bull. According to the story, the four-year-old climbed the chain link fence separating his own from a neighbor's yard where the dog, although chained up, was able to attack him. The child was taken to a local hospital where he tragically died later that day.
Understanding Dog Bites in Maryland
Although many states have adopted "strict liability" statutes with regard to dog bites, Maryland is not one of them. Except in certain circumstances as discussed below, our state still adheres to what is commonly referred to as the "one bite rule." The one bite rule is a negligence doctrine established in the case of Twigg v. Ryland, 62 Md. 380 (1884) which holds that the owner or keeper of a dog may be held liable for injuries caused by the animal if he has actual or constructive knowledge of its ferocious or dangerous propensities.
A recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals in Tracey v. Solesky, modified the one bite rule to specifically preclude pit bulls. According to the Court, "[i]t is not necessary that [a pit bull's owner] have actual knowledge that the specific pit bull involved is dangerous***[b]ecause of its aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries, pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently dangerous.
A majority of other states have left behind the one bite rule in favor of strict liability statutes. Strict liability statutes, in the context of dog bite cases, impose liability on the owner or keeper of the dog even when the owner or keeper is not found to be at fault. This means that the owner of a dog that bites another person is automatically liable for any resulting injury regardless of the animal's prior demeanor or propensity towards viciousness.
Both one bite and strict liability theories are subject to certain defenses which may absolve the dog owner of liability. One such defense is the concept of "trespass," which generally applies when the victim of the bite did not have any right to be on the property where the attack took place. This defense was expressly recognized by Maryland Court of Appeals in the case Bramble v. Thompson, 264 Md. 518 (1972).
Another defense that can be asserted in dog bite cases is based on the doctrine of "contributory negligence." As has been previously discussed by this blog, Maryland is one of only five states that still operates under a theory of contributory negligence. The doctrine of contributory negligence states that, if a dog bites victim's failure to exercise due care contributes at all to the cause of the attack, he or she is completely barred from recovery. For example, an owner would not be liable to a dog bite victim if the victim provoked the dog into attacking by harassing it.
The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing the victims of dog attacks. If you or someone you know has been injured in a dog attack, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by treatment that is below a certain accepted standard of care. Legal disputes in this area understandably deal with defining exactly what that standard is and determining if a medical professional breached it in any given case. However, there are some situations where mistakes are so obviously made that there is little dispute at all. In the patient safety community these medical errors are often referred to as "Never Events." That is because they represent problems that are simply inexcusable and should never, under any circumstances, occur in a medical setting.
These never events include things like operating on the wrong patient, performing the wrong operation, or leaving something inside a patient's body after surgery. In most medical malpractice cases an expert witness is needed to explain how a certain course of conduct or medical action might have violated standards. However, when a never event strikes, sometimes medical experts are not needed at all. That is because even non-experts understand that these errors are egregious breaches of accepted caregiving principles.
Not So Rare After All
Local residents might reasonably assume that these types of mistakes are incredibly rare and do not frequently occur in Maryland or throughout the country. Think again.
Last month a new report was released which generated significant headlines and has led many patients to question the risks to which they are exposed every time that they enter a hospital or medical institution. Researchers from Johns Hopkins recently had a study published in the journal Surgery, which found that thousands of these never events occur in Maryland and elsewhere each and every year. A press release explaining the findings can be read in full here.
The scope of the problem is broken down well by those involved in the study. They explained that "A surgeon in the United States leaves a foreign object such as a sponge or a towel inside a patient's body after an operation 39 times a week, performs the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a week and operates on the wrong body site 20 times a week."
All told this comes out to about 40,000 never events in the last decade alone. Even then, researchers believe the estimates are on the conservative side. That is because sometimes these errors are never discovered. If an object is left inside the body, the patient is unlikely to know it right away; sometimes problems do not develop for years down the road.
Hospitals are required by law to report these events, but it has long-been known that reporting is lax at many facilities. Unless they are forced to admit their error by patients, many facilities do not say a word about problems.
Surgical Errors in Maryland
No matter which way you slice it, it is unacceptable for any medical professional to harm a patient as a result of these entirely preventable surgical errors. One of the key ways to spur change to prevent future mistakes is to demand full accountability. For help ensuring that responsibility, contact Brassel Alexander & Rice, LLC. We offer experienced legal guidance for those throughout Maryland the District of Columbia.
Maryland Court of Appeals overturns verdict where judge failed to give Assumption of the Risk Jury Instruction
The Maryland Court of Appeals, earlier this week, overturned the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, finding that the Judge erred by failing to instruct the jury on the issue of Assumption of Risk in a personal injury trial.
Our Annapolis Maryland Injury Attorneys have years of experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence of others.
In S&S Oil v. Jackson, the Plaintiff sought personal injury damages as a result of injuries she claimed she sustained while stepping on an uneven flooring surface in a gasoline service station undergoing renovation. The service station's defense was based in part of the allegation that the Plaintiff was contributorily negligent and that the Plaintiff assumed the risk of injuries.
At trial, the station owner testified that there was orange or red caution tape across part of the construction area and a "Watch Your Step" sign somewhere in the immediate vicinity. The Plaintiff testified that she did not see either the caution tape or the warning sign and that she assumed the floor surface was level.
Traditionally, at the close of evidence, the jury is read jury instruction, including an instruction on the issue of Assumption of Risk, if the trial testimony has generated the issue. The most recent jury instruction for Assumption of Risk, as published in the Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instructions, Fourth Edition, reads as follows:
A Plaintiff cannot recover if the plaintiff has assumed the risk of injury. A person assumes the risk of an injury if that person knows and understands the risk of an existing danger or reasonably should have known and understood the risk of an existing danger, and voluntarily chooses to encounter the risk.
The Maryland Court of Appeals heard arguments yesterday in the case of Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, et al. In the Coleman case, a Howard County jury found a Soccer Association negligent in its maintenance of a soccer goal which collapsed, resulting in the in an injury to the Plaintiff. Under Maryland's Contributory Negligence law, however, the Plaintiff did not recover any damages after the jury found that the Plaintiff was also negligent, and Plaintiff's negligence contributed to his injury.
Our Annapolis Maryland injury attorneys have years of significant experience representing accident victims and rebutting allegations of contributory negligence argued by Defense attorneys.
Under the Doctrine of Contributory Negligence, a Plaintiff who in any way is determined to be negligent - even if determined to be only one percent negligent - is precluded from recovering any damages from a negligent Defendant. The rationale is that the Plaintiff has contributed to his/her injuries.
Under a Comparative Negligence system, as advocated by the Plaintiff's attorney in the Coleman case, the jury would be asked to assess the relative fault of the Plaintiff or Defendant. If, for example, the jury found the Defendant was 80% negligent and the Plaintiff was 20% negligent, Plaintiff's damages would be reduced by 20%.
The Coleman case represents an effort on the part of a Plaintiff's attorney to ask the Court to overturn the Doctrine of Contributory negligence, which was first adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1847 in the case of Irwin v. Sprigg. Maryland is one of only 5 states that still abides by a contributory negligence standard (the other four are Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina and the District of Columbia).
Although several bills have been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to create a comparative negligence system, these bills have failed on multiple occasions, amid heavy lobbying from various plaintiff and defendant-friendly lobbying groups.
The main arguments advanced by the Plaintiff is that the doctrine of contributory negligence is not a just system in that injured Plaintiffs are denied relief even in cases where the Defendant is determined to be negligent. Defendants argue that the legislature, rather than the Court of Appeals, should establish the law. Additionally, other defense organizations argued that overturning the contributory negligence doctrine, would "[throw] a rock in the pond of Maryland court system and would spur years of chaos and litigation."
The Court did not indicate when it would issue its decision, but typically takes several months to issue its decision. In the mean time, legislators may introduce another effort to legislate comparative negligence in Maryland.
Maryland Court invalidates agreement that prevented family from seeking damages for child's traumatic injury
The Court of Special Appeals ruled this week that an exculpatory agreement created by a "commercial enterprise" executed by adults on behalf of a minor child are void and unenforceable as a matter of public policy.
Our Annapolis Maryland injury attorneys have years of experience representing those who have suffered catastrophic personal injuries caused by the negligence of others.
In Rosen v. BJ's Wholesale Club, No. 2861 September Term, 2009, the Court of Special Appeals overturned a Baltimore Circuit Court's finding that a pre-injury release agreement signed by a parent on behalf of her five-year old child fully released BJ's for all liability as a result of injuries suffered by the five-year old on a supervised play center at BJ's Warehouse.
When the family joined BJ's in July 2005, the father executed a release agreement involving the use of an indoor playground at BJ's called the "Incredible Kid's Club." The Club was a supervised drop-off point where members dropped off their children, while the adults shopped. Members' children were not permitted to use the play center unless the family signed a release containing exculpatory and indemnification clauses. The agreement read as follows:
A Dallas woman sued the Dallas Cowboys earlier this month after she allegedly suffered third-degree burns on her buttocks after sitting on a black marble bench outside Cowboys Stadium prior to an August 2010 scrimmage.
Our Annapolis Maryland injury attorneys have years of experience representing Plaintiffs who have been injured as a result of negligence involving an individual or business' duty to warn of a known danger.
The Complaint, which was filed in Tarrant County, Texas, alleges that that the Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones were negligent in failing to warn Plaintiff Jennelle Carrilo of the danger of sitting on the bench that was exposed to the exceptionally hot August sun either by posting a sign or roping off the bench to prevent individuals from sitting.
The injury occurred on August 10, 2010, which had a high temperature of 101 degrees in Dallas. Plaintiff alleged that she did not realize the burns until she stood up to use the restroom.
Upon realizing she was injured, the Plaintiff left the stadium to go to Huguley Memorial Medical Center, where she was initially diagnosed with first-degree burns. Several days later, however, she began to feel dizzy and experience significant pain. She returned to the hospital where she was diagnosed with third-degree burns. She has since required skin graphs.
The Plaintiff has demanded a jury trial.
A 9-member jury awarded a woman $1.9 million Thursday, after it found that a doctor overprescribed methadone for pain treatment, which caused the woman to stop breathing and suffer brain damage. Overprescription of medication can have devastating effects for patients, including those in Maryland.
Our Annapolis Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience representing Plaintiffs who have suffered injuries as result of the negligence of health care providers.
The woman, Charlene Whalen of Bangor, Maine, sued Dr. Steven Weisberger who treated her for chronic back pain. The Complaint alleged that the dosage of methadone Dr. Weisberger prescribed was too high, which caused brain damage from oxygen deprivation after she stopped breathing while sleeping.
The doctor was a practitioner of a therapy called Prolotherapy, which involves injections into the area around a patient's spine that intentionally causes inflammation designed to help promote healing. Dr. Weisberger prescribed methadone from the resulting pain.
About 48 hours after she was prescribed Methadone, Whalen's fiancé found her unresponsive in the middle of the night. She was eventually revived, but the resulting deprivation of oxygen resulted in brain damage that affected her ability to multitask and perform tasks that would allow her to work.
The Plaintiff's experts opined that the amount of methadone Plaintiff was prescribed was eight times the amount recommended by experts in the field. The Defense countered that the dosage was within an appropriate range.
The Defense contended that the Plaintiff never alerted the pharmacist who filled the methadone prescription that she had breathing problems and suffered sleep apnea. Additionally, the Defense argued that Plaintiff had no future lost income, since she never intended to return to work.
The jury deliberated for less than two hours.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals overturned a Talbot County Circuit Court Judge's ruling that a mother could not sue a commercial ambulance company for negligence, last Thursday, holding that the trial judge erred in his interpretation of the Maryland Good Samaritan Statute.
Our Annapolis Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have more than 30 years of experience representing the rights of Plaintiffs who have suffered damages due to the negligence of others.
In Murray v. Transcare Maryland, TransCare argued that as a commercial ambulance company it was entitled to immunity based on the Maryland Good Samaritan State and the Maryland Fire and Rescue Act. The Court of Special Appeals panel held that although Maryland State law protects municipal firefighter and rescue operators from liability, both the Maryland Fire and Rescue Act and the Maryland Good Samaritan Statute, do not protect commercial ambulance services, such as the services provided by TransCare, from liability. The Court's decision allows the Plaintiff to pursue a claim against TransCare.
The events at issue occurred on November 15, 2007, when an air transport company was required to transport a child from Memorial Hospital at Easton to University of Maryland Medical System's (UMMS) Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, because the Easton hospital was not equipped to manage an intubated child. TransCare employed a paramedic on board the transport helicopter who failed to find an oxygen mask after the airway of the child, Bryson Murray, became blocked by a breathing tube.
Unable to find an oxygen mask on board, the air transport required an emergency landing before a mask could be found, and by that time the child had suffered permanent brain damage.