Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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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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An article in the Baltimore Sun is reporting that one person was killed and three other people injured in a collision on wednsday night. The accident which occurred at the intersection of Old Court Road and Scotts Level Road involved a Jeep Cherokee and a Nissan Maxima. According to the article, the Baltimore County Police Department believes that the Jeep ran a red light striking the Nissan Maxima killing its driver and injuring its passenger. Police are still investigating.

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Very sad news coming out of Anne Arundel County , Maryland this morning. The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Ashley Nicole Meyers was “attempting to cross Ritchie Highway near Hamburg Street in Pasadena when she was struck by a northbound 1999 Nissan Sentra about 5:47 p.m” yesterday. Police are reporting that the child was wearing dark clothing at dusk and crossed the busy highway at a place not designated for pedestrian crossings. The girl was pronounced dead at Baltimore Washington Medical Center an hour later.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of both the child and the unnamed driver of the vehicle that struck her. There is no report-at this time-that drugs or alcohol played a part in this motor vehicl accident.

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The Baltimore Sun is reporting very sad news coming out of Westminster this morning. Apparently a driver of a Ford pickup truck slammed into the rear of a Chevrolet Cavalier that was full of McDaniel College students around 11:00pm yesterday. The 19 year old student, Thomas Rouleau, of Gilboa, N.Y., died at the scene. Four other students were in the car, three of which were taken to University of Maryland-Shock Trauma. Fortunately those injuries were not life threatening and they were released.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Rouleau, who apparently was not responsible for this accident. It is reported that this was the second accident in a matter of minutes the driver of the Ford pickup had caused and fled. Sadly in these situations, experience shows that their is a strong possibility the hit and run driver may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Hopefully the police will find the driver today and bring him/her to justice. Just by leaving the scene of an accident involving death, the fleeing driver is subject to a penalty of up to ten years in jail. Additional charges may be warranted.

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Experienced personal injury attorneys know there is no question asked more often and as difficult to answer than; What is my case worth? The answer to this question is based upon many factors which an experienced personal injury lawyer can best answer.

Our system of civil justice is terrible at valuing the loss, but rather consistently values the lawsuit. For instance, there are many cases involving horrific tragedies such as the death of a child, the loss of which can never be compensated for. Nonetheless, our judicial system attempts to assign a value to such an incomprehensible losses. Hence, the value of most lawsuits never truly compensate for the irreplaceable loss of life or limb. So how do we lawyers come up with a value for injury cases? Understanding this is an imperfect science, lets get cracking.

Most experienced personal injury lawyers will consider the below factors, as well as personal experience, to provide clients with a range of what a case may be worth. The factors that determine value of a personal injury case include:

1) Strength of liability
2) Venue
3) Severity of Injury
4) Medical Bills: past and future
5) Economic Loss: Wages and Loss of services
6) Aggravating Factors
7) Skill of Attorneys

Strength of liability: The settlement value of a case will often be greatly affected by the strength of the liability. For instance, if two auto accident plaintiffs have the same injury (broken back) the pretrial settlement offers may vary greatly based upon the strength of the liability argument.

If liability is clear (rear end collision), than the pretrial offer will be higher to take into account that there will be a verdict, and it is just a question of how much. On the other hand, if liability is disputed and the defendant has a chance of winning on liability, the pretrial settlement offer will be considerably less to reflect the real possibility that the defendant may walk away paying nothing.
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Nissan recently decided to recall 204,361 vehicles from its 2007 and 2008 model years in the United States due to the possibility that a passenger side airbag could fail to deploy properly in an accident. The recall covers 2007 and 2008 Nissan Altima, Altima Coupe, 350Z, Murano and Rogue; and Infiniti G35 Sedan, G37 Coupe and EX35 built from March 12, 2007 to May 27, 2008. Please click here for the full article.

The defect was in the passenger side “Occupant Classification System,” which figures out whether the front passenger is present, and if so, whether it’s a child or small adult. Apparently, the problem is with Nissan’s “Occupant Classification System,” which didn’t work properly since it was out of spec. As a consequence, the passenger airbag may not deploy in a serious crash.

For more information regarding Nissan’s recall, or to speak with a trial attorney with experience litigating similar product liability claims against automobile manufacturers, please contact us for a free consultation.

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As leading Maryland personal injury lawyers, we are often asked to explain Maryland law regarding wrongful death lawsuits.

Generally, a wrongful death claim is brought by a surviving spouse, child or parent. A Survival claim is brought by the personal representative of an estate.

To recover for a Wrongful Death cause of action, plaintiff must prove: 1) death; 2) negligence of the defendant; and 3) defendant’s negligence proximately caused death of decedent. Weimer v. Hetrick, 309 Md. 536, 547 (1987). In addition to the elements set out by case law, the Wrongful Death statute provides that the plaintiff must be within a category of defined beneficiaries under the statute and the claim must be brought within the applicable time period, 3 years after death of decedent. Md. Cts & Jud. Proc. Art. § 3-904.

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Each year, more than forty percent of the total number of traffic fatalities are alcohol related. In this country, nearly 17,000 thousand people are killed on an annual basis in accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Sadly, notwithstanding these horrific statistics, Maryland law does not permit a cause of action against a bar owner, restaurant, homeowner or other individual or entity responsible for negligently serving alcohol to individuals who later get behind the wheel of a car and cause serious, and oftentimes catastrophic, injury to others. See Veytsman v. New York Palace, Inc., 170 Md.App. 104, 122 n.11 (2006). Such a claim is known as tavern liability or “dram shop” liability. In fact, Maryland is one of only three states that do not permit such lawsuits. Maryland law also does not allow an injured victim to recover punitive damages in automobile accident cases, even in instances where the driver that caused the injury has consumed excessive quantities of alcohol or other mind-altering drugs. See Komornik v. Sparks, 331 Md. 720 (1993).
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Many individual automobile insurance policies do not provide adequate coverage for catastrophically injured victims. As a result, a product liability case against the manufacturer of the automobile may need to be explored. Such cases can be extremely complicated and expensive to prosecute effectively. As such, it is imperative to consult a trial attorney with significant experience handling such cases.

In addition to a simple “negligence” theory, Maryland law recognizes the “crashworthiness doctrine” and doctrine of “strict liability.” A claim may also be pursued under Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act in appropriate circumstances. Pursuing such avenues may be the only way to obtain full compensation for the catastrophically injured client. Therefore, at the beginning of a case, counsel should take affirmative steps to determine whether a product liability theory of recovery should be considered. At a minimum, counsel should take steps to secure the vehicles involved in an accident and send a “spoliation” letter to any parties involved in the accident to preserve evidence for later inspection.

My law firm and I recently obtained a substantial settlement from an automobile manufacturer in a product liability case on behalf of a woman who was blinded in an automobile accident case by the vehicle’s airbag. For more information regarding your catastrophic automobile injury case, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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Maryland is a major transportation corridor for trucking and other interstate travel with Interstate 95 running from North/South and Interstate 70 running East/West. As such, accidents involving tractor trailers and other large motor carriers oftentimes occur on Maryland’s frequently traveled roadways. In many of these cases, the tractor trailer is equipped with a “black box” containing critical information, such as average speeds of travel, top speeds, braking information for “hard stops” or other valuable information just prior to the point of impact. It may also contain information regarding the number of hours the truck was in operation; information that can be compared with the log books the driver and trucking company are required to keep. The black box can be a gold mine of information. The information contained in the black box can be critical to proving liability not just for the negligent truck driver, but for the company that employs him or her. This information can be used to show that a trucking company should have known there were problems with a particular driver.

If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident involving a tractor trailer or other trucking company, it is important to retain counsel early and act quickly. Counsel should send a “spoliation” letter requesting that the trucking company take affirmative steps to preserve evidence, including the data contained in the black box. A substantial amount of the data can be lost if the tractor trailer is put back into service after an accident. Counsel should notice the inspection of the tractor trailer unit. Counsel should also retain expert assistance to download the black box information. You don’t want the defendant-trucking company to beat you to the punch because they can easily erase critical information in the process. In addition to a black box, some trucking companies also use satellite tracking on their vehicles. This too can be a critical resource to explore when prosecuting a trucking accident case.

If you’ve been injured by the negligence of a truck driver, contact an experienced Maryland plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer for a free consultation about how best to pursue your claim.

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