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After a serious accident or losing someone that you rely upon economically, the financial hardships can be overwhelming.  In even the best-case scenarios, justice is never immediate.  I’ve seen people suffer incredible economic losses bankruptcy personal injurywhile they wait for justice, including losing their homes.

Some people file for bankruptcy.  What most victims and even personal injury lawyers in Maryland do not fully understand sometimes, your personal injury claim becomes the property of the bankruptcy estate, when an injury victim files for bankruptcy protection whether the claim is listed in the bankruptcy or not.   In my experience, the personal injury victim generally gets the claim back after the bankruptcy.  But as the victim’s lawyer you represent the victim, then the trustee, and then back to the victim again.  The complete thing is just an utter mess.

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scheduling deposition challengesScheduling depositions in car accident lawsuits usually is not a complex thing. You call the other side; you agree on dates, and you have your depositions. The key is cooperation. Rather than unilaterally serving a deposition notice, you just call opposing counsel and agree to the place, date, and time. There are rare issues.

For some reason, and I’m not entirely sure why, but scheduling depositions in medical malpractice cases always seems to be an ordeal. Common courtesies that I’m sure many Maryland malpractice lawyers accord each other in the rest of our lives sometimes go out the window. Sometimes, it seems like otherwise ethical lawyers have no qualms about making up excuses for why they or the deponents cannot attend a deposition that are not based in fact. Often, you can figure this out when you depose the witness. Continue reading

Another new Maryland lead paint decision

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a $5.1 million (reduced to $1.25 million by the cap) lead paint verdict in a 91-page opinion written by Judge Shirley M. Watts.

The first 58 pages of this opinion are facts. But there are two real issues: (1) did plaintiff’s expert, a pediatrician, have the qualifications to render the opinions that the lead exposure at defendant’s property caused the brain injuries alleged in this case, and (2) did the trial court properly sanction the defendant and his lawyer for alleged willful discovery violations.reversed lead paint verdict

I care little about the latter issue because I’m just not a big fan of monetary sanctions against counsel. I’m really interested in sanctions like spoliation instructions and other sanctions that give a tactical advantage. But the retail value of the paper used demanding monetary sanctions is greater than the actual amount of sanctions against counsel that have been awarded and paid. The issue, in this case, is interesting – the opinion breaks down in painful detail – but it is ultimately as useful to me as my recollection of the Baltimore Orioles 1979 batting order. (I do, however, recommend reading the details about these sanctions for the entertainment value. I’m amazed that Judge Watts did not even comment in an off-hand way about the trial court’s findings of extreme discovery violations. I would not have the same discipline.)

So on to the actual issue: the qualification of the expert. The court found that even though the pediatrician was a licensed doctor and all, he really was not qualified or even prepared to render an opinion in this case. He had limited experience in treating kids with lead paint poisoning, never evaluating or diagnosing children with lead exposure, or even following the progress of kids with lead exposure. In fact, he did not even recall treating a child for lead poisoning. His qualifications, distilled down to their essence, appear to be that he is a pediatrician who keeps up with the medical literature. Continue reading

moped scooter rules

A fedora will no longer suffice.

Starting Monday, the ridiculous pass that mopeds and scooters in Maryland have been given on the most basic safety precautions will end. Moped and scooter drivers now must equip their death traps by wearing a helmet and some kind of eye protection. Scooter drivers must also register their vehicles and have a valid drivers’ license or a moped/scooter permit.

Maryland was one of the few remaining states that did not require a license, registration, and insurance for mopeds (or mo-peds? I can’t decide).

This blog post summarizes Mattison v. Gelber, a new Maryland Court of Appeals opinion in a medical malpractice case with a unique issue regarding whether there was an entry of final judgment without an award of costs. You can go to the jump at the bottom of the post. I take the dog for a short walk in the introduction.

When I started practicing law, one of the first cases that I was given was a plaintiff’s legal malpractice case. Except for a subrogation case – which really does not count as a plaintiff’s case – it was the only plaintiff’s case that I had in my first four years as a lawyer. Now, it has been ten years since I was on the other side of the v.maryland malpractice opinion

Anyway, in the malpractice case, the lawyer blew the time for filing a post-verdict appeal. He blew in the most bizarre way possible: he filed his Notice of Appeal too early before final judgment had been entered.

Committing legal malpractice for doing something too early stuck with me. I have been paranoid to this day about deadlines but, in particular, post-judgment motions. In Mattison v. Gelber, the court dealt with facts that validate my paranoia.

This case started, as many malpractice claims do, with a battle over venue. Plaintiff filed in Prince George’s County against two doctors. There is not a medical malpractice attorney in Maryland who would not prefer Prince George’s County to anywhere else (a possible exception: Baltimore City). But the malpractice happened in Howard County, one of the toughest places in Maryland to try a malpractice case. The Prince George’s County Circuit Court transferred the case, it did what it likes to do if there is a venue of issue: kick it out of their court.

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Weehoo will recall approximately 2011 Weehoo iGo bicycle trailers the company made between April 2011 and July 2011. The problem is a parents worse nightmare with these things: that their child becomes unhitched and goes into traffic or somewhere else that is unsafe.

Apparently, the receiver on the trailer’s seat post hitch can crack. If it cracks, it might cause the trailer to detach, posing fall and crash hazards to the child being pulled along.bike trailer recall

I have a bike trailer but I have no idea what the name of it is as I type this post. The particular trailer has a steel frame with an adjustable seat for passengers 38 to 52 inches tall, two pedals with straps, an enclosed sprocket and chain, a 20-inch wheel, two pannier pockets, a flagpole and a flag. The seat, pannier pockets, and flag are made of red, heavy-duty nylon.

Truck accident cases are often about insurance coverage. As I have written before, trucking companies are getting advice from lawyers to set us as many different fraudulent hoops as they possible to shield themselves from liability.

One mechanism to avoid responsibility many companies use (sometimes innocently) is hiring trucking companies that are independent contractors. So when the there is a truck accident suit where the claim exceeds the independent contractor’s insurance coverage, the company tries to hide behind the “that’s my independent contractor” shield (although, sometimes, that shield is artificial and the independent contractor is really an employee).

As a result, companies trying to get their products from point-to-point often pick trucking companies that could provide the lowest price. Often, it costs money for trucking companies to do the safe thing – namely, hiring good truck drivers without a history of drug and alcohol abuse or a history of car or truck accidents. Bad truck drivers are available on the cheap.truck accident coverage

In March, I wrote a post about failed efforts in Maryland to require DWI offenders to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicles. Specifically, the bill before the legislature this year would have required people convicted of alcohol-related offenses to only drive cars equipped with an ignition interlock system for some period. Simple premise: cars can’t start if you are not sober. My first thought is who would be opposed to this. It just makes too much sense.

Reading the Maryland State Bar Association Legislative Preview today, I found out something interesting I didn’t know: this bill passed the Maryland Senate 44-0 before getting stalled in the house judiciary committee. Okay, so no one person in the Maryland Senate thinks it is a terrible idea, but we can’t even get it to a vote in the House of Delegates?

I think the people of Maryland would be very depressed to see how the sausage is made.

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