Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Last month, a D.C. jury found that the District Lounge & Grille, a bar (now closed) formerly located in the Adams Morgan section of the District, was liable to the Estate of Julia Bachleitner under the D.C. Dram Shop Statute. The parties had previously agreed that, if the bar was found liable, the damages would be $1 million.
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STSW is currently investigating potential criminal and civil claims arising out of the massacre of 13 Navy Yard employees on behalf of several of the victims’ families.

Aaron Alexis was employed by The Experts, a subcontractor of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services (HP), and was granted access to secure Navy Yard facilities in that capacity. Based on the widespread media reports of Alexis’ increasingly bizarre behavior, The Experts was potentially on notice of a dangerous mental illness. Alexis was living in a hotel with fellow employees who apparently witnessed his declining mental state, as did members of the hotel staff. Alexis was also involved in several encounters with police which either were or could have been discovered by The Experts. The Experts may be liable for, among other things, wrongful death, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent retention. Depending on the precise relationship between The Experts and HP, HP faces potential liability.

Others may also be held accountable for the deaths and injuries suffered by the victims and their families. The federal government may have been negligent in permitting Alexis to bring a disassembled weapon onto its premises and the contractor who performed his employment background check could also be held accountable for failing to discover signs of obvious mental illness.

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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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WBAL is reporting in an online article that the worker killed Tuesday at the Dundalk Marine Terminal has been identified as 46 year old James Mills Gillus of Dundalk. Mr. Gillus was tragically killed when he was attempting to climb back into his vehicle after he noticed it was rolling backward and was struck by the vehicle. The vehicle he was operating is used to haul dumpsters around the marine terminal. State and Federal Workplace officials are investigating this accident. Mr. Gillus’ family will be entitled to Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits because he was killed during the course and scope of his employment. Additionally, under certain situations, they may be able to recover in a wrongful death action. An experienced Maryland Accident Attorney will be able to explain the family’s rights to them.

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Under relevant Maryland law, pedestrians generally have the right of way when in a crosswalk, and motorists generally have the right of way outside of a crosswalk. Maryland Transportation Article 21-502 requires a motorist to come to a stop when a pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a croswwalk. Additionally, motorists are required at intersections to look carefully ahead and keep and eye for pedestrians. Outside a crosswalk, motorists generally have the right of way over pedestrians, but still have a duty to avoid striking a pedestrian.
Every year, thousands of Marylanders are injured in pedestrian accidents. An experienced Maryland attorney, understands the law governing pedestrians on the road and can fight on their behalf to recover for injuries sustained in an accident.

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The Baltimore Sun is reporting that a pedestrian was struck and killed while attempting to cross N. Howard Street in a crosswalk last evening. Two pedestrians were walking east to west in a crosswalk when an unknown vehicle struck and killed the victim. This vehicle then fled the scene. Baltimore City Police are currently investigating this matter and are witholding the victim’s name and information pending notification of the family. Anyone who has any information regarding this tragic accident should contact the Baltimore City Police Department.

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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 2008 case of Allen v. Marriott, the Court of Special Appeals came down with a frigid decision for plaintiffs who are injured when falling on black ice. The Court of Appeals denied cert. which means the case is the current law in Maryland.

The facts of Allen v. Marriott are as follows:

David Allen and his wife were guests of a Marriott hotel from Feb. 3 -5. On the morning of Feb. 5, the parties checked out of the hotel. Mrs. Allen went to the hotel’s parking lot to retrieve their car, while Mr. Allen was checking out. She drove the car close to the front entrance of the hotel. Mr. Allen walked out of the main entrance, and then proceeded to walk along the (salted) sidewalk toward their vehicle. As Mr. Allen stepped off of the curb, pulling a wheelie suitcase, he slipped and fell on what turned out to be unseen “black ice.”

The issue the presented to the Court was whether a reasonable person under an objective standard, knowing what the Plaintiff knew, would have been aware of the risk and therefore assumed the risk.

In reaching its holding, the Court discussed the following:

The Maryland law on the defense of assumption of risk in cases involving slipping and falling on ice or snow is totally contained within the three decisions of Schroyer v. McNeal, ADM Partnership v. Martin, and Morgan State Univ. v. Walker. In all three cases, the Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs, as a matter of law, were aware of and voluntarily assumed the risk, based on the circumstantial evidence of their surroundings.

• In Schroyer, the plaintiff injured herself when she walked out onto a parking lot covered with ice and snow. She was aware that ice and snow were slippery, and therefore was aware of the danger posed by an ice and snow covered parking lot. By voluntarily choosing to traverse it, albeit carefully, she intentionally exposed herself to a known risk.

• In ADM, the plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell on an ice and snow-covered walkway as she returned to her vehicle. The Court of Appeals said that, although it had snowed some 19 hours earlier and the precipitation had ceased, ice and snow surrounded the building, particularly the parking lot directly in front of the building and the entrance walkway. The plaintiff was aware of the ice and unplowed snow surrounding the building, but she felt that she could safely enter the building. The Court stated that “there are certain risks which anyone of adult age must be taken to appreciate: the danger of slipping on ice” is one of them. A person of normal intelligence would have understood the danger, therefore the issue is for the court.

• In Morgan State, the plaintiff went to visit her daughter on the campus of MSU several days after a heavy snowstorm. After driving across a snow and ice-covered parking lot, the plaintiff walked across the ice, fell, and fractured her leg. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff “knowingly and voluntarily walked across a snow and ice covered parking lot and injured herself, she assumed the risk of her injuries as a matter of law.” The Court reiterated that the danger of slipping on ice is one of the risks which any one of adult age must be taken to appreciate.
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The most recent Maryland Court of Appeals case discussing whether Maritime Law applies can be found in Matthews v. Howell, 359 Md. 152, 753 A.2d 69 (2000).

Facts: Four friends boarded a boat and traveled to a bar. After consuming a variety of alcoholic drinks, the friends returned to the boat and headed back to the marina. On the way back, the conditions worsened (wind increased, water was choppy, and it was dark). While traversing the Chesapeake Bay, the captain (one of the four friends), abruptly throttled back, thereby slowing the boat, but did not anchor. The captain announced that he wanted to take a swim, and dove into the Bay, jumping from the seat at the helm. Then, one of the four friends, Ms. Matthews, either fell or jumped into the water. Rescue attempts by the friends failed. The US Coast Guard and a helicopter could not locate Ms. Matthews. Two days later, Ms. Matthews’ fully clothed body was found. Cause of death was drowning.

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