Articles Posted in Automobile Accident

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In an effort to help our clients understand the process of negotiating a personal injury claim, I have compiled the following information that I feel is important you understand once the medical bills, lost wage statements and any other “special” damages have been obtained and the negotiating process has begun.

There are basically two types of damages to be considered when evaluating your claim, special damages and general damages:

a. Special damages are those damages for which you can show a dollar amount that you incurred as a result of having to pay money or losing money as a result of the collision and your injuries. Examples of special damages are medical bills and lost wages.

b. General damages are the damages for which you do not have a bill or for which you cannot show any “tangible” loss. Examples of general damages are pain and suffering.
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The law firm of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White takes on a limited number of plaintiff’s personal injury cases each month. We limit our intake so we can provide the highest quality representation to each of our clients. To better equip our clients with an understanding of the process, we have broken down the phases of what to expect of our attorney-client relationship.

THE INITIAL CONFERNCE:

General information regarding the incident will be obtained when you are first interviewed. Certain other material relating to things you should not do will be furnished to you. You will be asked to sign authorization forms which will allow us to obtain necessary information. We will schedule a follow-up appointment for you to meet with the attorney handling your case shortly after you retain Silverman Thompson Slutkin and White.
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Baltimore personal injury attorney, Craig Zissel of the firm Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White won a contested auto accident case in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County last Tuesday. Mr. Zissel’s client was injured when the vehicle he was riding in was struck from behind while stopped at a stop light. GEICO denied liability for the accident claiming there was no way our client could have been injured due to the minor nature of the accident. Additionally, they pointed out the many prior accidents our client had been involved in. After deliberating for an hour, the Montgomery County jury returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff for the full amount of his medicals plus an award for non-economic damages to compensate him for his pain and suffering. Prior to trial, GEICO had offered no money to settle the case. This verdict represents a great result for Montgomery County, which is historically a defense-oriented, conservative jurisdiction.
At trial, Mr. Zissel focused the jury’s attention on the evidence supporting his client’s claims including the testimony, property damage photos and medical bills.

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Maryland lawyers who litigate car and truck accidents have a new tool at their disposal thanks to the Maryland Legislature’s imminent passage of a ban on handheld cell phones while driving. The new law will make it illegal for a motorist to text or talk on a cell phone while driving, unless connected to a bluetooth device.

Plaintiff’s lawyers can be expected to try to use violation of this statute as evidence of negligence. Defense attorneys will also focus on using violation of this statue to prove the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. One would suspect that defense attorneys and insurance companies will reap the most benefit from the new law.

It has often been the law in Maryland that violation of a statue is evidence of negligence. It has also been the law of Maryland that if a plaintiff is found to be one percent negligent, the plaintiff is one hundred percent barred from any recovery. This is called contributory negligence. Defense attorneys will likely focus on violation of this statue to salvage what may otherwise be a lost cause. In any event, I can see attorneys on both sides focusing on cell phone records and issuing thousands of subpoenas for records during discovery. The bill may help make Maryland roads safer but it is going to kill allot of trees!

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In the case of Pfeifer v. Phoenix Insurance Co, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has recently affirmed that the statute of limitations for UM coverage or UIM coverage suit is three years from the date of denial of coverage, orthe exhaustion of the tortfeasors coverage occurs. Practically speaking, if you are involved in an accident on 1/1/06, and the tortfeasor offers their policy on 1/1/07, the statute of limitations would begin to run on 1/1/07, giving you until 1/1/10 to file a claim against the UM/UIM carrier.

Oftentimes, I come across clients who suffer injury at the hands of an uninsured or underinsured driver. Understanding the process of collecting under your UM/UIM means the difference between collecting what is fair or being at the mercy of the insurance companies. Should you be involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured driver, or a driver who has a small policy, contact an experienced Maryland Personal Injury Attorney at czissel@mdattorney.com to learn your rights.

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A woman was fatally struck by a car as she attempted to cross Eastern Avenue this morning around 5:20 am. The Baltimore Sun is reporting in an article that the woman was struck in the eastbound lanes near 54th Street. The police are looking for a vehicle they believe to be a Mazda with damage to the headlamp area.

Police say they will release the victim’s identification after the family is notified.

Anyone with information on the driver or the location of the vehicle is asked to call 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-2587.

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A Baltimore man was tragically killed on Saturday night in a hit and run accident on the 4700 block of Greenspring Avenue. A recent Baltimore Sun article reports that James Little, Jr. was struck by a Jeep Cherokee traveling northbound on Greenspring Valley Road which left the scene following the accident. According to the article, the police located the vehicle and its driver a short while later and noticed the vehicle to have a smashed and bloodstained windshield. The vehicle’s driver, a 20 year old woman, was taken into custody for questioning and toxicology tests and later released.
Every year, pedestrians throught Maryland are injured in motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents. Experienced auto accident attorneys can help victims and their families recover for their injuries.
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SUMMARY OF APPLICABLE MARYLAND STATUTES AND CASELAW

I. Rules of the Road, Duty & Standard of Care

The Maryland Transportation Article codifies the “Rules of the Road” for all vehicles traveling on Maryland roadways. All drivers of vehicles in Maryland must observe the rules of the road. Md. Transp. Art. §21-102. They may also assume that others will obey the rules of the road and need not anticipate that others will violate the law. Dean v. Redmiles, 208 Md. 137, 374 A.2d 329 (1977). Pursuant to Md. Transp. Art. §21-1202, the operator of a bicycle on a public street possesses all the rights and duties of the driver of a vehicle. These general duties include the duty to operate a bicycle, or any vehicle, with ordinary care under the circumstances. Kaffl v. Moran, 233 Md. 473, 477-478, 197 A.2d 240, 242 (1964). In addition, there are unique rules of the road that apply particularly to the operation of bicycles. Drivers of motor vehicles owe a duty to bicyclists to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicycle being ridden by a person. Md. Transp. Art. §21-1209. Bicycle operators must to ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable, except when turning left, traveling on a one way street, or passing a slower moving vehicle. Md. Transp. Art. §21-1205. Operation of a bicycle in violation of a statute does not constitute negligence as a matter of law, unless the violation is the proximate cause of injury. Miles v. State, 174 Md. 292, 198 A. 724 (1938).

Operators of any type of vehicle on Maryland roadways owe a duty to exercise due care under the circumstances. Moran, 233 Md. 473 at 477-478, 197 A.2d 240 at 242 . While ordinary care is generally required, the Court of Appeals has held that “vigilance must vary according to the danger naturally anticipated from the operation of the vehicle.” Heffner v. Admiral Taxi Service, Inc., 196 Md. 465, 471, 77 A.2d 127, 129 (1950). It is universally understood by travelers on the roadway that intersections create an increased potential for collisions. In anticipation of this known danger, a higher degree of caution is appropriate. The Court opined that “a motorist, when approaching a street intersection, must exercise much greater vigilance than when he is driving between intersections.” Id.

The Maryland Transportation Article also includes provisions that pertain to specific traffic maneuvers. Regarding turns, “a person may not, if any other vehicle might be affected by the movement, turn a vehicle until he gives an appropriate signal in the manner required.” Md. Transp. Art. §21-604(c). A signal of an intention to turn must be given continuously during at least the last 100 feet traveled by a vehicle before turning. Md. Transp. Art. §21-604(d). In addition to signaling, “if the driver of a vehicle intends to turn right at any intersection, he shall approach the intersection and make the right turn as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” Md. Transp. Art. §21-601(a). The requirement that drivers of motor vehicles drive close to the edge of the roadway when approaching a right turn is intended to provide further indication to following drivers of an impending turn, so that the turning motorist will not be passed by following vehicles on the side toward which an indication of turning has been given. Norris v. Wolfensberger, 248 Md. 635, 237 A.2d 757 (1968).

In addition to the duty to properly signal an intended turn, drivers owe a duty not to make a turn from a direct course until such turn can be made with reasonable safety. Md. Transp. Art. §21-604(b). Before turning, drivers must keep a proper lookout. As noted by the Court of Appeals, “[o]ne who operates a motor vehicle on a public highway must anticipate the presence of others thereon and must exercise constant vigilance to avoid injuring them…” Peoples Drug Stores v. Windham, 178 Md. 172, 185, 12 A.2d 532, 538 (1940). A well established rule is that when a witness says he looked but did not see an object which he must have seen if he did look, such testimony is unworthy of consideration. Cogswell v. Frazier, 183 Md. 654, 660, 39 A.2d 815, 818 (1944).
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WBAL Radio is reporting on their website that Tim Wheatley, the Business Editor for the Baltimore Sun was killed today in a morning accident in Baltimore County. According to WBAL, Mr. Wheatley was attempting to pull onto York Road from Corbet Road when his vehicle was struck on the driver’s side by a UPS truck. The intersection where the accident occurred is controlled by a traffic control device, and at this time an investigation is ongoing to determine who is at fault for the accident. Mr. Wheatley’s daughter was also injured in the accident.
Every year, thousands of Marylanders are injured in automobile accidents as a result of someone else’s negligence. An experienced trial attorney can help protect the injured. If you or someone you know is injured in an a car accident in Maryland, contact an experienced Maryland Auto Accident Attorney at (410) 385-2225 or czissel@mdattorney.com

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Dr. Brian Edgar Emery, a Howard County physician, was killed on Thursday evening when the vehicle he was driving was struck from the rear by another vehicle and pushed into oncoming traffic. Dr. Emery was stopped on Route 32 near the Howard-Carrol County border waiting to make a left turn when his vehicle was hit from behind by a van being driven by Thomas Donald Cory. A recent, Baltimore Sun Article, reported on this tragic accident which occurred on a dangerous stretch of road in Howard County. Earlier this year a mother and child were killed on the same stretch of road.
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