Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER What is negligent entrustment?

Car accident lawyers in Baltimore have used this theory to recover damages from the owner, as opposed to the driver, of a car that causes an accident.  The owner of a car may be held responsible if they lend their car to another, and they have reason to believe that person will be "reckless" "incompetent" or "dangerous". [Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instructions 18:5] Car accident lawyers in Baltimore have successfully argued that  allowing another to use a car is negligent where; the driver was inexperienced; the driver abused alcohol or drugs; the driver had a lot of tickets, or caused a lot of accidents; or was "uninsurable".   


Car  accident and injury lawyers in Baltimore are very well familiar with Medicaid/Medicare's "right to reimbursement". Reduced to its most basic form, this statutory reimbursement methodology requires car accident and personal injury attorneys to insure the federal government is paid back for medical expenses covered by  Medicaid/Medicare –from the proceeds of a case. Seasoned Car accident and injury lawyers in Baltimore have been successful, in appropriate circumstances, in convincing Medicaid/Medicare to reduce or change the amount they've claimed. A vital role for any personalinjury lawyers handling a  Baltimore caraccident case with a Medicaid/Medicare recipient is to examine the lien for accuracy, and get it reduced as appropriate.

Friday, May 18, 2012

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER Should the Insurance Company Pay for the Diminished Value of My Car

My personal injury clients sometimes ask, in addition to their medical bills, pain and suffering and the cost of repair of their vehicle damaged in a Maryland car accident, if they can recover for the diminished value of their car? The Insurance Information Institute defines as diminished value as "[t]he idea that a vehicle loses value after it has been damaged in an accident and repaired." The argument is that, in the future, you decide to sell that previously wrecked car, but can't get what you believe fair market value because the car has been "wrecked and repaired" That's Diminution in Value / DiminishedValue.  Of course it makes sense that the purchaser of a used car wants one that hasn't been wrecked, but are there any objective reasons supporting the concept? A variety of reasons are typically offered for why diminution in value occurs: every car loses value after being wrecked and repaired; the insurance company approved body shop used inferior parts, or, uses improper repair techniques.  [Diminished Value, Harry Hitzeman, Insure.com 2010.] Imagine a scenario where someone was responsbile for a Baltimore car accident, and they-or their insurance company- is responsible for the loss.  This is typically referred to a  "third-party" claim – you make it against someone else's insurance company.  Should that insurance company pay for the loss in value due to the wreck, at the time of the repairs, as part to the claim? In many states, the answer is "NO". However, the answer in Maryland is "YES"  "[I]f the plaintiff can prove that after repairs his vehicle has a diminished market value from being wrecked, then he can recover in addition to the cost of repairs the diminution in market value, provided the two together do not exceed the diminution in value prior to the repairs." Fred Frederick Motors, Inc. v. Krause, 12 Md.App. 62, 277 A.2d 464 (Md. App., 1971) Of course careful documentation  is vital, and an appraisal from a professional to prove the loss in value might be necessary. Be sure to discuss the possibility, and viability, of a diminished value claim with your personal injury attorney, as part of your claim.
What if there is no other insurance company? Say for example, you crash your car into a tree. Your insurance company agrees to pay for the repairs. This is typically referred to a  "first-party" claim – you make it against your insurance company.  The question becomes, in the that scenario, should your insurance company make good on my loss. i.e. pay for this diminished value. In most states, the answer is again "No". Id. However, if your vehicle is insured in Maryland, coverage for diminished value may be available under your policy. Be sure to mention it to your adjuster and get something in writing from them if they tell you such coverage is not available.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER-Is the driver of the car that hit me responsible?

Any Baltimore caraccident attorney will advise you that all Maryland drivers are charged with the obligation of using reasonable care for the safety of others when driving. Many Baltimore car accident lawsuits come about when a driver fails to use the degree of caution and attention that an ordinary person would use under the circumstances. The nature of the duty may change depending on the circumstances [e.g. adverse weather conditions]. If you've been hurt through no fault of your own, consult an experienced Baltimore car accident attorney to examine your legal rights, and the possibility of a financial recovery for your injuries. An experienced Baltimore car accident attorney can advise you of the role of the "emergency rule" in your personal injury case.

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER Is the owner of the car that hit me responsible?

Yes, but it depends on the circumstances. A Maryland car accident attorney will advise you that the non-owner operator of a negligently driven vehicle is responsible for their own negligence. Now, if that vehicle were covered by insurance procured by the owner, typically there would be coverage for an accident caused by the non-owner operator, as long as he or she had the owner's permission to drive the car. Many times, perhaps most, that is the case. Maryland car accident attorneys sometimes face situations where it is necessary to convince the jury the owner, in addition to the driver, should be separately responsible for an accident. One such scenario, discussed in a separate chapter, is where the owner is a business, and the non-owner operator is an employee, operating the vehicle in the scope and course of their employment. If that employee is negligent, the business/owner is responsible. Some Maryland car accident attorneys have successfully argued that where the owner of a vehicle has reason to know that a driver would be negligent-based on that driver's past poor driving- the owner may be liable for an accident based on a theory called "negligent entrustment".
Another scenario where seasoned Maryland car accident attorneys have successfully argued that a non-driving owner is responsible for the conduct of a non-owner driver is where that owner is present in the car.  Maryland law provides that if the owner asks another to drive, while still in the car, the owner has the obligation and duty to make sure the vehicle is operated safely. If the person driving is negligent, it is assumed the owner agreed to the conduct, and is responsible for it. Powers v. State, 11 A.2d 909 [1940]. But what about a non-owner passenger under those same circumstances? Do they have to stop the driver from driving negligently? Are they contributorily negligent if they do not? Experienced Maryland car accident attorneys know that a non-owner passenger is not necessarily negligent for riding with an intoxicated driver, or failing to complain of excessive speed, but they might be. It depends on the unique facts and circumstances of each case.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER She said I'll declare bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy law is outside the scope of this blog. But, as seasoned Maryland car accident lawyers know, the collectability of a judgment is an important factor in assessing the ultimate value of a claim. If the judgment was rendered in a claim for an intentional tort, or for a Baltimore auto accident where the defendant was drunk, they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.  If the judgment was in a more typical "garden variety" case, then the judgment may be dischargeable, and the creditor must generally take affirmative steps to protect or "exempt" their judgment from discharge on various statutory grounds.


Maryland caraccident lawyers who've obtained judgments for the victims of Baltimore auto accidents, sometimes can't collect because that defendant has no insurance, and no assets. What if the uninsured person indeed has assets? A judgment creditor may apply to the clerk of court for a writ of execution, directing the sheriff to levy upon [seize] property of the defendant. A Maryland car accident lawyer with an unsatisfied judgment can then request that this property is sold, and the proceeds be used to satisfy the judgment.


We've discussed in other chapters the bane of Baltimore personal injury litigation – the uninsured defendant. There are more than a few Maryland car accident lawyers who've obtained sizeable judgments for the victims of Baltimore auto accidents, but can't collect because that defendant has no insurance, no job, and no assets. A case against an uninsured person may have no value at all. Maryland law allows for a garnishment of a judgment debtor's wages, generally up to 25% of the "disposable wages, and obligates employers to make the deductions and forward the payments to the judgment creditor.

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER I won. Do I get to collect more than the policy limit?

Maryland car accident lawyers know the answer is "yes", but it's not easy. One scenario is the "excess judgment". For example, assume your Maryland auto accident case goes to trial, and you receive $40,000, and the defendant was insured for  $30,000. Who pays that extra $10,000. In most situations, and most Maryland car accident lawyers would agree, the defendant does, but collecting that $10,000 may be extremely difficult. Another option would be, upon a showing that the insurance company negligently failed to provide a defense, that the insurance company becomes liable for the excess.  Seasoned Maryland car accident lawyers are well aware that although this claim belongs to the insured defendant, and not to the Baltimore auto accident victims, there are ways to obtain the right to sue the insurer directly.

MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER I won. Do I get to collect?

The methods for collection of judgments are discussed in more detail in other volumes. Any Maryland car accident lawyer will tell insurance is perhaps the single most important factor is assessing the value of a case. What if there is none, or not much? Maryland courthouses are filled with  Maryland car accident lawyers who've obtained massive, but uncollected, judgments for the victims of Baltimore auto accidents. These judgments are uncollected because the defendant was uninsured, or had too little insurance.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The insurance company cancelled me!

We've explored in another chapter what every Baltimore injury and accident lawyer knows- insurance companies cancel insurance policies. Many times, that cancellation comes on the heels of a Maryland automobile accident. There are restrictions on the ability of an insurer to do this. Automobile insurance companies are also not permitted to refuse to issue an insurance policy based on certain discriminatory factors. [e.g. race, color, creed, credit history]. If an individual is cancelled in the wake of a Maryland automobile accident, and they feel the reason is prohibited, they can challenge the move through the insurance commission. Experienced injury and accident lawyers in Baltimore that have assisted their clients in such a challenge know the cancelled policy remains in effect while the commission considers the merits of the challenge.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


It sounds like the title of a war movie, but it's actually a very effective device for the victims of Maryland car and automobile accidents to document the effects of their injuries. A "pain diary" is a chronology of the days, weeks, and possibly months after the Maryland car or automobile accident, detailing daily social, work or household activities that are made more difficult, or impossible, by the injuries from the car accident. In some instances, and injury victim is not asked to recall the nature of their injuries until months, or years, later, when their  Maryland car accident lawyer takes their case to trial. The diary can be an invaluable document for recreating the process of healing and recuperation.