Ron Miller is a Maryland personal injury lawyer who focuses on serious injury and wrongful death cases involving motor vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, and products and premises liability. This site is designed to provide practical information to both injury victims and plaintiffs' attorneys in the Baltimore-Washington area who want to achieve a fair settlement or verdict. If you are looking for counsel for your case, call him at 410-553-6000

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lawyers2Most of the medical malpractice cases Miller & Zois handles come from cases that are referred from other Maryland attorneys.  These cases come from other lawyers who do not focus their practice on medical malpractice cases, or the size and the expenses in the case or the specific issues presented are such that getting other counsel involved makes the most sense.

In these cases, we do 70%-30% fee split with the referring law consistent with Maryland Rule 1.5 in medical negligence cases. Our firm fronts and bears the risk on all costs and expenses. I put that 70%-30% number right out there because fee splits always seem cloaked in mystery. The only information on line that involves fee splits comes from appellate opinions. So we want to get it out there.

This post talks about how this works in Maryland, why this is actually a good system for victims, and discusses a Maryland Court of Special Appeals case pending on this issue.  If this post reminds potential referring lawyers that we handle medical malpractice cases and invites lawyers to refer cases to our law firm, all the better.

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elderlysigningBecoming the victim of an auto accident can have a profound effect on your life. Even though an accident can happen in the span of a few seconds, it can result in death or injuries and hardships that last months, years, or a lifetime. With that in mind, victims of auto accidents should seek an attorney to ensure that they are compensated for their injuries and/or losses. However, not every attorney is qualified to handle every case. Clients should ensure that they receive the representation that they deserve.   Here are five things to consider when hiring a Maryland car accident attorney:

History of Results

Car accident claims are about money.   That’s it.  The car accident lawyer’s goal has to be to maximize the amount of money the client can put in their pocket.   There is no reason to run from this.  Our civil justice system is based on the payment of money compensation to balance out the harm that was caused.  The point is that you want a law firm that has the goal of getting you as much money as possible and has a history of doing it for their clients.  So when dealing with an accident claim, why jeopardize your potential recovery by placing it in the hands of an attorney (or law firm) without a proven track-record of obtaining money for clients?  Really, it is like putting a high school kid in center field for the Baltimore Orioles.  While skill obviously matters when looking for a lawyer, anyone with a potential auto accident claim must seek the help of an attorney who can turn that skill into results for their client.

Experience

In any auto accident case, the need for an experienced attorney is a no-brainer. You need a lawyer with experience representing plaintiffs in these types of cases. But how can you figure out who has real experience and who is just running television commercials so frequently that people just assume they have experience.  First, go back to results, right?  There are a lot of lawyers that get good results because they get so many cases via good marketing because they are bound to get a few good scores just like a blind squirrel will still find acorns.  But it is still a pretty reliable barometer to use as a threshold test.  Next, try to get a flavor of how they are viewed in the legal community.  We always tell prospective clients to call other lawyers and ask for a list of names of the other law firms that handle these cases well.   Most lawyers will answer honestly and you will hear the same few firms over and over again.  Next, read what they write on line.  Are they really providing information that makes sense that you can use?  Do they seem like lawyers who will fight for and stand behind their clients?

Knowledge and Resources

You are probably starting to see how interwoven these categories are.  Our law firm offers free consultations on your case.  So does pretty much every other personal injury lawyer in Maryland.   So take plaintiffs’ lawyer up on this offer.  Talk to them.  You might not understand Maryland accident law and the best path through the system. But I bet you are smart enough to figure out who knows what they are talking about.  Again, also read what they put on-line.  Certainly, it is not a full proof plan.  I found great information on websites from lawyers who I do not think are qualified to handle the cases on which they are speaking quite eloquently.  They probably cut and pasted their wisdom from somewhere.  But, in combination with these other factors, it is a good gauge of who is who. Our firm puts our work on-line.  You can see our depositions.  You can read our trial transcripts.  We have videos on line where we talk about these cases.  Evaluate us and evaluate other lawyers, too.

Respect

Everyone wants a lawyer who respects them and will fight for them.  That’s obvious.  The question is how to find the lawyer and how do you find and evaluate which lawyer will do that for you.  You can look at testimonials, sure, but they do not give you a great flavor.  On-line reviews are very misleading because you either have a firm who is pushing for on-line reviews which might give you an incorrect impression or you are listening to a few angry people who usually are just upset that the firm investigated their case and then declined to represent them.  The best thing you can do is talk to the lawyer and ask the hard questions about the type of service you are going to receive.

Reputation

You need someone with extensive knowledge of auto accident claims, vast experience of settling and trying cases, exemplary client satisfaction, and a track record of getting monetary awards for its clients.  One gauge is the legal awards.   The attorneys at Miller & Zois, for example,  have been recognized by all of the major outlets that give out legal distinctions for Maryland personal injury lawyers: “SuperLawyers,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Avvo” and so forth.  I’m proud of these awards.  These are useful, up to a point.  But only up to a point.  I certainly don’t think my inclusion on these lists is a critical component of why I’m qualified to handle you case.  I think you really need to talk to other lawyers to find out who the big players are in Maryland injury cases and, circling back one more time, look at the results these lawyers have gotten.

Hiring Miller & Zois

If you are the victim of an auto accident, or an attorney looking to refer an auto accident case, contact Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082. We offer a free initial consultation for clients and have the tools required to successfully argue your case.

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lawyersThe medical malpractice arm of our law firm has continued to grow over the last 10 years.   I think it is interesting to see who the defense lawyers are in these cases.  It matters who you draw as defense counsel.  You would think, as a plaintiff’s lawyer, you would like to draw the least competent counsel as possible.

There is some truth to this.  Lazy and incompetent counsel sometimes miss key defenses and critical arguments that the health care provide should make.   But this rule has a lot of exceptions.  Defense lawyers who get behind the eight ball sometimes make it even harder on us.  Because it is impossible to schedule depositions, get discovery responses and otherwise push the case forward.  You usually get to the same place in the end but sometimes the workload doubles just because the other side is so nonresponsive.  Sometimes, particularly if you have a quality liability case, you are best served by having quality defense lawyers who do what it takes to properly defend the case.

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xareltoAll Xarelto lawsuits, including lawsuits to be filed by Maryland residents, will be consolidated before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

This happened quickly.  Xarelto came on to the market three years ago.  Now there is a class action type MDL that has been created because there are too many lawsuits.  This does not speak well to this drug and it does not speak well to Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, who introduced Xarelto with so much pomp, circumstance and excitement that it might be a drug that could really change the quality of people’s lives.

What the MDL Means?

I always call an MDL a “sort of” class action.   All federally filed cases — which is the vast majority of these claim and virtually all of the Maryland claims — are consolidated under one federal judge in a single jurisdiction, Louisiana in this case.   When a lawsuit is filed, the lawyers have an opportunity to conduct discovery where both sides get a chance to learn about the case.  In the Xarelto lawsuits, there are some facts common to all of these claims.  The biggest issue is going to be what Bayer and J&J knew or should have known about the bleeding risks associated with Xarelto.

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Pre-impact fright and conscious pain and suffering in Maryland

Pre-impact fright and conscious pain and suffering in Maryland death cases

Many years ago, a jury awarded my partner Laura Zois’ client $4 million in a survival action claim.  The sole evidence — the SOLE evidence — presented to the jury was that the decedent said “Oh s—!” before impact which caused his immediate death.  Since that case, I have had a very aggressive view when it comes to pushing these claims.  Because that case and other cases I have seen and tried show that juries take the most remote fear of grave harm or death as serious as they do any conscious pain and suffering.   I think too many plaintiffs’ attorneys in Maryland are too quick to accept the premise that the victim’s estate cannot make a pre-impact fright or conscious pain and suffering claim.   This post is about Maryland law in both pre-impact freight and conscious pain and suffering cases and why I think this helps the family’s victim recover great damages in wrongful death and survival action claims in Maryland.

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judge2The Maryland Court of Special Appeals handed down an interesting opinion in Asphalt and Concrete Services v. Perry, reversing a half million dollar verdict.  This case is a cautionary tale for lawyers who want to get every possible thing they can in to make the defendant look bad.  I understand the urge, believe me. But sometimes you are just asking for an appeal that is going to get your case reversed.  This is an opinion every Maryland personal injury lawyer — on both sides of the aisle — should read and keep in the back of their minds.   This case also has some good law and bad law for plaintiffs’ lawyers that is worth knowing.

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judge2Last month in a medical malpractice case in Milwaukee, a judge did something pretty amazing.  Here is the setup.  A woman has both her arms and legs amputated as a result of a Strep A infection and the treatment she received for septic shock, resulting in compromised blood flow.  This is, no question, a stunningly awful tragedy.   A jury believed that medical malpractice caused these injuries and awarded $15.75 million in pain and suffering damages and $9 million economic damages.   But Wisconsin has a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages that the trial judge in this case believed was constitutionally sound.   So that’s that, right?
In a 21-page decision, Judge Jeffery Conen explained that his ruling does not strike down Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on non-economic awards:

Although the cap may be constitutional as applied to medical malpractice victims as a whole, there is no rational justification for depriving Mrs. Mayo, who is in her mid-fifties, limbless, and largely immobile, and Mr. Mayo of the award the jury decided was appropriate to compensate them for their injuries…”

It is unreasonable to require Mrs. Mayo and her husband, whose lives have been so drastically altered, to bear the brunt of the legislature’s intended tort reform…. there is no rational basis [for slashing the award] in the hopes of marginally improving health care in Wisconsin.

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insurancepolicyI have taught insurance law for the last 17 years at the University of Baltimore Law School.  I think it is important to explain both the hornbook majority view and Maryland law.  Typically, what I’m saying is that the majority view is this balanced reasonable law… and then there is Maryland law which seems to bend over backwards to favor insurance companies.

There is a political element to this.  Maryland insurance law is stunningly conservative.  Paul Ryan himself probably vigorously approves.  Yet Maryland is an extremely liberal state.  Sure, we went through that crazy college experimentation-like phase with Bob Ehrlich but we have consistently picked liberal governors and have consistently had a solid liberal majority in the Maryland General Assembly.  So why are we the Rush Limbaugh of insurance?

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efilingUPDATE: As of October 14, 2014, electronic filing is mandatory  for attorneys in Anne Arundel County.   Here is the rule.   In the online seminar, the court clerk said that all filings are electronic as of today, So, I think that if you have a case pending, all your pleadings must be e-filed from here.  She also indicated there would be a 30 day grace period so maybe mandatory is a strong word.   I think you are better off staying away from Google Chrome – my favorite – and sticking with use Internet Explorer or Firefox for your browser.  Below is the original blog post I wrote on this back in July.

We have been hearing for some time about the Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) project that will eventually allow for electronic filings, allowing Maryland lawyers to get the same modern conveniences of electronic filing that we have enjoyed in federal court for quite some time. This type of integrated case management system — between circuit, district, and appellate courts – will really change the practice of law on an administrative level and will hopefully allow us to speed past some of the filing related bottlenecks we have in pushing cases forward.

No more paralegals and couriers jumping  into their cars and racing to the courthouse to meet filing deadlines.  We don’t do a ton of the “last minute rush” stuff here but it does happen occasionally.  I have the courier bills to prove it which always annoy me to no end. Anne Arundel County somehow got picked to kickoff the e-filing program. Starting Monday, September 15,2014, lawyers can register for e-filing to get ready for the MDEC’s launch in Anne Arundel County.  As of October 14, 2014,  it is not going to be optional for lawyers.

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