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Ron Miller is an attorney who focuses on serious injury and wrongful death cases involving motor vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, and products and premises liability. If you are looking for a Maryland personal injury attorney for your case, call him today at 800-553-8082.

It’s been less than a month since the tragic helicopter accident in the Santa Monica Mountains that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 other people. Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has already sued the helicopter operating company and the pilot.

Vanessa Bryant is the named plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Los Angles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and the estate of Ara Zobayan, the pilot who died in the crash.

Because the issues in this wrongful death case are so well-known to so many of us, I thought there might be some wisdom in breaking down the claim, how this case will play out, and why I would have waited to file suit.  I also talk about the differences if Maryland law applied to this case.

If someone told any lawyer following mass tort litigation that the next big class action lawsuit would involve a diet drug that causes cancer, the reaction would be “that sounds right.”  Diet drugs have an awful history and we are seeing more and more drugs and products associated with cancer.

Lorcaserin (brand name: Belviq) was “voluntarily” taken off the market last week by its manufactubelviq cancer lawsuitsrer at the request of the FDA.

Why? In a clinical study, an increased incidence of cancer was found in those who took Belviq. The FDA recommends that patients talk to their doctors about stopping Belviq. If you were diagnosed with cancer after taking Belviq, call us today to discuss your Belviq cancer lawsuit at 800-553-8082 or get a free online claim evaluation.

headache personal injury cases

What is the value of head injury cases?

I’m fortunate in that I don’t get many headaches, a blessing I attribute to good hydration and genetic good fortune. On the rare occasion that I do get headaches, they are debilitating. It is hard to enjoy much of anything in life when you have anything north of a mild headache.

Juries struggle with figuring out how to value personal injury cases when the primary injury is a head injury that caused —  and may continue to cause — headaches.

The cap on pain and suffering damages that can be recovered in Maryland medical malpractice cases increased on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

What is the malpractice cap in Maryland in 2020?  It is $830,000 for a living plaintiff or a wrongful death case where there is only one wrongful death beneficiary.  If there are two or more wrongful death beneficiaries, the malpractice cap rises to what we call “a cap and a quarter” or $1,037,500.   Keep in mind, this is the cap only for pain and suffering damages, not economic losses.

I explain the 2020 malpractice cap and other complexities of the cap in this video.

Getting records and bills from medical providers is a lot harder than it should be. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has a new opinion that makes the collection of records even harder.   Yes, thankfully, it is an unreported opinion.  But it is still a message that health care providers can kick the can down the road on medical records requests with impunity.

The sad part is I agree with the opinion. It was the right call.  For sure.  But it is not helpful for medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers trying to collect medical records.

What Is the Maryland Record Collection Statute?

Besides begging and pleading, the only sword lawyers have in collecting medical records is § 4-309(a) of the Health-General Article of the Maryland Code. This statute requires health care providers to produce the records with a HIPAA authorization. This statute provides that: If a health care provider knowingly refuses to disclose a medical record within a reasonable time but no more than 21 working days after the date a person in interest requests the disclosure, the health care provider is liable for actual damages.

The FDA and Health Canada are testing metformin for cancer-causing N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).  If this testing shows NDMA levels far above the FDA’s acceptable daily intake limit of 96 nanograms,  Metformin lawsuits could quickly become a large mass tort claim.  The number of lawsuits if this drug is causing cancer would be astronomical.

We are a long way from that.  The context with metformin, and why everyone should measure twice and cut once when looking at this issue, is this is a medically necessary drug for many patients. No one is suggesting that patients stop taking metformin to control their diabetes (although I think patients should talk about their NDMA concerns with their doctors).

This is a 2020 speculation email directed at lawyers about litigation that might be on the horizon.

vertebrae fracture cases

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A Jury Verdict Research report found that over the last ten years, the national median award at trial in personal injury cases for a vertebra fracture is $112,537. Almost two-thirds of the cases in the study were motor vehicle accidents, which is the leading cause of spinal injuries in this country.  Our lawyers have seen a lot of these spinal cord injuries, particularly from motorcycle accidents.  Not surprisingly, the median award for multiple vertebrae fractures is almost double the single vertebra amount, $207,000.

When I first read this report, I assumed these vertebral fracture numbers were low because they excluded cases where there was a spinal cord or head injury. But apparently, 7.5% of the verdicts were in excess of $2,500,000, which means they have to include vertebrae fractures where the spinal cord was implicated or there was an accompanying head injury.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision last week, in Choudhry v. Fowlkes 2019 WL 5677904 (Md. App., Nov. 1, 2019) is probably the most significant new development in Maryland personal injury law in 2019. Choudhry articulates a new 3-part rule for when plaintiffs in wrongful death cases can recover economic damages for loss of “household services.”

I love this case because it is a virtual treatise about how to put together a loss of household services case in Maryland.  I don’t love the case because I think it raises the bar higher for making such a claim than most Maryland Circuit Court judges have been applying.

Loss of Household Services

The average premises liability verdict is $643,099, according to Jury Verdict Research’s review of premises lawsuits around the country.

premise liability casesThe median verdict in these cases is $98,160. Claims against recreational facilities were higher. The average verdict is $1,007,704 and the median verdict is $125,000. JVR defines these cases as a lawsuit that is brought against an individual, business, landlord, or organization responsible for the maintenance and safety of a property or structure.

Average v. Median Verdicts

Last week, I summarized a recent bench trial in a birth injury case.  I find these bench trial decisions to be useful and informative. They provide a unique perspective on what facts and testimony really matter in a birth injury case. In a jury trial, you just get a verdict. You do not get any meaningful explanation of what mattered and why. Appellate opinions focus on the law and not so much on the resolution of factual issues. These bench trial decisions are like detailed case studies that allow us to see how the facts were presented by each side, how the expert testimony was weighed, and exactly how the fact-finder reached their decision.

So I looked for another birth injury case with the judge as to the decider of fact. I found Coleman v. United States, 200 F. Supp. 3d 1350 (M.D. Ga. 2016), another Memorandum Decision from a birth injury bench trial in federal court.

The plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and their injured child, J.D. The healthcare providers involved in this birth injury case were employees of a federally funded health clinic in Albany Georgia. The federal government assumes liability for malpractice claims against federally funded clinics, so the United States was the named defendant.

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