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The Baltimore Sun is reporting that 42 year old Lawrence Bensky, a married father of two was tragically killed on Wednesday while riding his pedacylce on Falls Road in Baltimore County. Mr. Bensky was riding on the roads shoulder when, 64 year old Faith Frenzel drifted off the road onto the shoulder striking Mr. Bensky and his riding companion, Joel Wyman. Mr. Bensky was killed in the accident, and Mr. Wyman is in serious condition. The Baltimore County police are currently investigating the accident and anticipate filing charges against Ms. Frenzel in the near future.
Under Maryland law, a motorist who negligently injures a pedestrian or cylist is liable for those injuries. An experienced Maryland accident attorney can make sure victims and their familes are represented and protect their rights and claims under the law.

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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 California jury has awarded an Oregon girl $24.3 million in damages for being run over by a tractor trailer truck. The defendant was a transport company that was the carrier, insurer and guarantor of delivery for the truck’s contents.
At the time of the accident, the girl was 14. She was run over when the truck driver, who actually was the girl’s father drove away from a rest break without realizing that his daughter was still outside the truck. The girl was caught under the truck’s rear wheels and suffered severe injuries to her entire lower body that will require many future surgeries. Interestingly, the judge in the case ruled that the jury would not be told that it was the girl’s father who caused the accident, as that fact was irrelevant to the issue of negligence and damages. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.

My name is Andrew Slutkin. As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland attorney who specializes in catastrophic injury cases, I have successfully handled a number of truck accident cases. These cases require aggressive representation as the insurers and attorneys for the trucks almost always fight these cases tooth and nail. Knowledge of the insurance regulations and federal regulations regarding trucks also is important. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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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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Following the drowning death of their three-year-old son in a septic tank, a Montana family recently filed a lawsuit against their local water and sewer district. In 2007, the young boy, while playing in a driveway at a family friend’s home, fell into the tank and drowned. In the lawsuit, the Montana family claimed that local district officials were negligent in two ways: (1) the septic system was placed to close to the driveway; and (2) that the district was negligent in failing to install what is known as a “kid-catcher” safety device at the opening of the tank, a saftey feature that would have prevented their son’s death.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland lawyer, I have successfully handled prior drowning deaths in septic tanks or similar sewage facilities. Because of the well-known hazard that these tanks/facilities pose to small children, there are clear standards and safety features that have been adopted by a variety of professional organizations, standards/features that are designed to prevent these types of tragedies. Unfortunately, due to the large number of these older tanks that remain unmarked and/or unidentified on individuals’ properties, these preventable tragedies continue to this day. If a loved one has been injured or died as a result of a similar tragedy, call the lawyers at STSW for a free consultation.

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Our Maryland plaintiff’s attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving Marylanders who are injured by unscrupulous realtors. Often we prosecute malpractice claims against the realtor for claims such as fraud or conflict of interest. During the course of this representation, we are asked how to file a complaint with the Board against these realtors for sanctions against the public.

Below is our internal memo which outlines the process:

(1) File complaint with The Greater Baltimore Board of REALTORS (GBBR) for violating Code of Ethics a. If found to be in violation of Code of Ethics – REALTOR may be subject to a fine, suspension of membership or expulsion from the association i. Must cite which section of Code of Ethics they violated
b. Claim = per incident
i. CANNOT process claims for monetary damages
ii. If legal action has been filed with Courts, CANNOT consider any complaint filed with GBBR until legal action has been resolved
iii. Complaint must be filed 180 days after facts were known
iv. Individual complaint being filed against must be member of GBBR
c. Copies of application to file complaint and information from website is attached

(2) File complaint with Maryland Real Estate Commission
a. Only accepts complaints against individuals with real estate licenses
b. Claims brought for violation of Title 17 of Business & Professions Article
i. Claim = per incident
ii. May recover compensation from Guaranty Fund for an actual loss
1. May not exceed $25,000 per claim
2. Claim must (1) be based on an act or omission of licensed real estate broker/sales person; (2) involve transaction that relates to real estate in MD; and (3) is based on an act or mission in which money or property is obtained by theft, embezzlement, false pretenses or forgery; or constitutes fraud or misrepresentation
c. If found to be in violation, sanctions include – license revoked, required to pay a fine, license suspended, reprimands
i. Copies of application to file complaint and information from website is attached
ii. Examples of violations & penalties imposed; complaints which were denied; and complaints which were awarded funds from the Guaranty Fund are attached
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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.

Analysis:

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In many personal injury actions which happen on a boat or on the water, the value of the case and the way lawyers approach the case depends on whether maritime law applies. Originally, maritime or admiralty law was applicable when any claim arose upon the navigable waters of the United States. The Plymouth, 70 U.S. 30 (1866). However, several U.S. Supreme Court cases have changed this rule.

Executive Jet Aviation, Inc. v. City of Cleveland, 409 U.S. 249 (1972): A plane taking off from a runway hit a flock of birds, lost engine power, and crashed into Lake Erie, sinking to its bottom. The plaintiffs sought damages under traditional maritime jurisdiction. The Supreme Court held that, for maritime law to be applicable, a court must find, not only that the action accrued upon or in navigable waters, but that the incident alleged in the claim bears a “significant relationship to traditional maritime activity.”

Foremost Insurance Co. v. Richardson, 457 U.S. 668 (1982): Two pleasure boats collided, resulting in the death of a passenger in one of the boats. The Supreme Court held that the collision was actionable under maritime jurisdiction because there is no requirement that maritime activity be an exclusively commercial one. All operations of vessels on navigable waters are subject to uniform rules of conduct. The Court held that “[b]ecause the ‘wrong’ here involves the negligent operation of a vessel on navigable waters . . . it has a sufficient nexus to traditional maritime activity to sustain admiralty jurisdiction.”
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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.