July 13, 2011

Maryland Statute of Limitations and Legal Malpractice

The general statute of limitations in Maryland is three years, as set forth in Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 5-101. This is the "default" statute of limitations that applies unless another limitations period is applicable. Master Fin., Inc. v. Crowder, 409 Md. 51, 70, 972 A.2d 864, 875 (2009).

I've seen statistics that nearly a third of all legal malpractice claims arise out of personal injury lawyers blowing the statute of limitations. How is that? Some lawyers are so disorganized they just miss the statute. But I suspect this is the minority of cases. The main culprits are the most notable exceptions for Maryland personal injury lawyers of these general rules which either apply a different statute of limitations or require notice to bring a claim:

  • Maryland Local Government Tort Claims Act
  • Maryland Tort Claims Act
  • Federal Tort Claims Act
  • Error in which states' procedural rules apply


July 11, 2011

Hines Ward's DUI: Ravens-Steelers Trash Talk

Shocker: Steeler's Hines Ward's arrest for DUI has made it into the Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens rivalry. Who would have thunk it? Ray Rice put on Twitter:

Well it looks like Hines Ward will miss week 1 when the lockout ends DUI charge not a good look.

A Steeler teammate responded sarcastically:

So glad you could Weigh in. Thx.

Rice wrote some type of "you know where to find me, bro" type response. Should Ray Rice just keep quiet about his kinda stuff? Of course. But Rice has a little street cred on drunk driving. First, his cousin was killed by a drunk driver when he was young. That kind of tragedy leaves an imprint. Rice is also putting his time where his mouth is. He helped the state of Maryland kick off its "Operation Checkpoint" campaign against drunk driving last August, according to ESPN. Of course, I don't know what "kicked off" really means but we can assume he had to spend time and energy on the project (and it is one that he chose).

I don't think Hines Ward should be hung in effigy but I have changed my mind in this same blog post. I think this mild trash talk from Rice is okay. Public figures have to know if they get caught driving drunk people are going to call them out on it. That is a good thing.

July 15, 2010

DWI/DUI Laws in Maryland

Maryland needs tougher DWI/DUI laws if we are going to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents. Two things come to mind.

First, tougher laws. The Drunk Driving Elimination Act rejected by the Maryland legislature this Spring would have been huge. The bill would have required all DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock. The bill lost after heavy pressure from the Alcohol Beverage Institute. Honestly, I cannot figure out why they would not line up against drivers who do not use alcohol responsibly - DWIs and the number of dead people that result are not exactly a PR boon for the sellers of alcohol. I'm sure there is a self-serving wisdom to it. Or something. But I can't figure it out.

Another law would have removed the right of repeat DWI offenders to refuse a breathalyzer. Personally, I think that repeat offenders should absolutely be able to refuse a breathalyzer test. But, ah, you lose your license for 5 years if you do.

Second, why can't we increase the fines? I realize if we ruin the lives of defendants, we run the risk of making their problems worse. How about $100 a month for 60 months for a first time conviction? The state of Maryland needs money. We need less drunk drivers killing our people. Isn't there a good marriage out there somewhere?

July 13, 2010

Maryland Law on Permissive Use

The Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog provides summary of Agency Insurance v. State Farm, a brother against brother (insurance company v. insurance company) squabble that may change permissive use law in Maryland (hopefully the CoA grants cert).

April 30, 2010

Spotting a Holdout Juror

I found this link from the Daily Record's blog to a rare Daily Double about spotting a prospective hold out juror; it was both funny and educational. Of course, it would have been a lot more educational if Maryland had a voir dire process that allowed you to actually learn something about the jurors besides their name, rank and serial number.

April 26, 2010

GEICO Voice Fired

The voice of car insurance giant GEICO, Lance Baxter (aka D.C. Douglas), the tag announcer who tells you that you can save 15%, has been fired by GEICO after leaving a voicemail for Tea Party group FreedomWorks questioning their intelligence.

In a voicemail to FreedomWorks, he questioned how the group will "spin it when one of your members does actually kill somebody, wondering if you've got a PR spinning routine planned for that or are you just gonna take it when it happens."

Piling political incorrectness on top of political incorrectness, I understand Baxter's point. The problem with the Tea Party is while it may have some good ideas, they get obscured by the extremists that end up being the face of the movement. GEICO's view is not so nuanced. Offending anyone means less market share. And I understand that too.

October 7, 2009

Mediations in Catastrophic Injury Cases

An article that John Bratt and I wrote has been accepted for publication in December in Trial, the flagship publication for the American Association of Justice. The article is about mediations in catastrophic personal injury cases. We finished what I hope is the final draft today.

October 7, 2009

New CSA Opinion

The Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog summarizes Abrishamian v. Barbely, a new pedestrian accident Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision stemming a bad plaintiff's verdict in Montgomery County.

May 11, 2009

Getting Police Reports: Montgomery County Makes It Easier

Getting police reports is often a challenge Maryland car accident lawyers.Montgomery County has joined the 21st Century with a new online system where you can download police reports.

I hope other Maryland counties follow suit.

April 13, 2009

Speed Cameras in Maryland

The Maryland House of Delegates voted to allow speed monitoring cameras in Maryland near schools and highway work zones. The Maryland Senate already approved this bill and Governor O'Malley's signature is a formality. A few years ago, the Maryland legislature passed similar legislation designed to prevent pedestrian auto accidents but but then Governor Ehrlich vetoed the bill

What does it mean? Maryland drivers pictured going more than 11 miles an hour over the speed limit would get a $40 ticket. That's it.

The opposition to this bill is Big Brother. Here's my question: what is more of an imposition, getting pulled over or having someone take your picture? It seems to me speed cameras are just the opposite of an invasion of privacy.

This is a first step towards putting speed cameras everywhere. I think this is a good thing that would in the long haul go a long way toward decreasing serious auto accident injuries and fatalities on Maryland roadways.

Among the most serious auto accidents our lawyers see in Maryland are pedestrian accidents, often involving people working near the road and children. Not surprisingly, you can often find children near school. (Film at 11.) This law is designed with these Maryland pedestrian accidents in mind but I think it is reasonable to expect this law will be expanded over time to include other areas where speed causes accidents - which is just about anywhere.

If you have suffered an injury as the result of a defendant's negligence that resulted from speeding, call our Maryland auto accident lawyers at 800-553-8082.

December 15, 2008

Maryland Assocation for Justice Auto Negligence Meeting

The Maryland Assocation for Justice's Auto Negligence Section has its next dinner meeting on January 7, 2009. The speaker will be Miller & Zois' own Rod Gaston on the topic of defense medical examinations.

The dinner is at:

That’s Amore Restaurant
10400 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
Columbia, MD 21044

If you are a MAJ member (formerly Maryland Trial Lawyers Association) handling car accident cases in Maryland, it is worthwhile to join the Auto Negligence Section.

November 20, 2008

Maryland Mediators and Arbitrators in Personal Injury Cases

We added on the Miller & Zois website the internal list that our lawyers keep of arbitrators and mediators in Maryland who we believe mediate or arbitrate personal injury cases.

As we make clear, this is not a list our our recommended mediators or arbitrators, just a collection of those that are doing the work. We refer to the list if arbitrating or mediating a case so it occured to me that others might want to have the same option, be it another personal injury lawyer or even an insurance company.

October 20, 2008

Fatal Car Accidents in Anne Arundel County

There have been 32 fatal car accidents in Anne Arundel County as of around 3:00 p.m on Saturday. Of these fatal accidents, 16 involved alcohol. I cannot remember the exact number but there have been over 1,100 drunk driving arrests in 2008 in Anne Arundel County.

How do I know this? It is posted outside of the police station in Millersville that I drove by on Saturday while taking one of my sons to a pumpkin patch. Seeing those numbers got me to thinking: if the numbers for everyone's hometown was the screensaver on the work computers of every American, we would save at least 4,000 lives in this country a year.

Of course, I'm completely making that number up. But don't you think that this would reduce drunk driving deaths by at least 33%? In 2007, an approximately 12,998 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes involving a driver with a BAC .08 or higher. These deaths constituted 31.7 percent of the 41,059 total motor vehicle accident fatalities in the United States in 2007. According, if we could reduce drunk driving fatal accident by a third, we would save over 4,000 lives.

October 13, 2008

Maryland High Court to Hear Non-Economic Cap Case

The Maryland Daily Record reports that the Maryland Court of Appeals will hear a challenge to Maryland’s statutory cap on non-economic damages involving a lead paint case in Baltimore City.

I think it is interesting the Maryland high court granted cert in this case. I'm not optimistic. But boy would the landscape flip here if the Maryland Court of Appeals agrees these caps are unjust under Maryland's Constitution.

October 7, 2008

Handling Total Loss and Diminished Value Property Damage Claims Without a Lawyer

I frequently get an email that is some version of this one:

Hello Professor Miller,

It's [name withheld], and I took Sports Law from you (really learned a lot by the way). Anyway, the reason, for my [voicemail], and why I'm writing is because I have a friend who has a problem. He purchased what I believed was an SUV, brand new in 2006. A few months ago it was stolen and vandalized. The police were eventually able to recover it, but it was totaled. According to my friend the blue book values the car at a certain amount, but the insurance company is not willing to pay him anything near the blue book value of the car. The more time passes the more the value decreases. My friend would like to recover the fair value of his vehicle, and would like to know what his recovery rights are. I am sure you are incredibly busy, but my friend also wanted me to refer him to someone I trusted and was an expert in insurance law.

If time is an issue, do you perhaps have someone whom you might recommend?
My friend's name is: [name and number withheld]

Thanks!

The reality is that most lawyers - including me - are not going to handle property damage or total loss diminished value cases. We do, however, offer on our Miller and Zois website tips for people handling property damage claims without a lawyer.

September 15, 2008

State Farm Lawyer Offers His Thoughts About a Trial

On John Bratt's Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog, he publishes a comment written by an opposing lawyer -State Farm in-house counsel - about a case they tried that John blogged about last month.

I think this post underscores the problem: State Farm lawyers believe they are beating us in lawsuits when we are getting jury verdicts far in excess of the offers in this case. Maybe they are. But if we get a verdict that is 8 times the State Farm offer and State Farm's lawyers think they won, what exactly does that say about the fairness of their offer?

September 3, 2008

Baltimore County Ban on Portable Ads?

The Maryland Daily Record reports that Baltimore County may ban portable ads on its roads and parking lots.

Does not sound like an awful idea although I wonder if there are 1st Amendment issues. I think a bigger distraction is radio commercials scare me half to death beeping horns in their ads. I have to think that these horns have to panic some drivers into car accidents.

August 20, 2008

Local Maryland Legal News Links

Local legal stories I have read over the last few days that I thought you might find of interest:

The Washington Post has a good article on former white collar prosecutor Dale P. Kelberman transformation into the go to defense lawyer for the accused politician.

A Baltimore defense attorney who took the stand to defend himself against allegations of witness tampering has filed assault and witness retaliation charges against a former client, according to the Baltimore Sun (patting myself on the back for staying away from criminal law in our practice).

The Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog writes about how the Baltimore Sun breaks a major legal story by having a reporter sitting in her doctor's office.

The Washington Post reports on the teenage who caused the recent truck accident on the Bay Bridge. I know everyone does it, but do we need to provide the name of the nineteen year old girl that allegedly caused the accident? I vote no.

The Baltimore Sun has an editorial about how we need to make our bridges safer for travel. I'm all for safe travel but it would be nice if the article just provided a modicum of evidence to suggest that bridges are more dangerous other than just "gee, we are lucky this did not happen sooner." Sounds like a classic overreaction to the "story of the month" to me. Lower the BAC to .07 and you will save scores more lives than making a bridge 100% safe.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has told the United States Army that Maryland plans to sue the Army to force it to finish cleaning up groundwater and soil contamination at Fort Meade. Like him, hate him, you choose. But let's state the obvious: the dude is fearless.

The Maryland Daily Record has a story on a Glenelg pharmacist facing criminal charges for mislabeling prescription drugs. I don't find the story of particular interest. But I went to Glenelg High School. Boy, that area has changed. I don't think Glenelg had a drug store in the 80s.

July 28, 2008

Baltimore Injury Attorney Blog

I was on vacation last week which accounts for the lack of posts to the Maryland Lawyer Blog. I planned on blogging while on vacation, a plan that died about five minutes after arriving at the beach. Expect the Maryland Lawyer Blog to be back and posting this week.

In the meantime, if you are looking for some local Maryland blog material, check out the new Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog, written by another Miller & Zois lawyer John Bratt. This blog offers a similar yet different perspective on personal injury cases in Maryland with a focus on Baltimore. The blog is not directed to accident and malpractice victims but instead offers advice and information to lawyers handling personal injury cases in Baltimore and throughout the country.

April 24, 2008

Liberty Mutual Buys Safeco

The Associated Press reports Liberty Mutual will purchase Safeco for $6.12 billion.

Liberty Mutual is fast becoming an insurance company powerhouse. Their marketing paradigm, for whatever reason, is regional, so car accident lawyers with Liberty Mutual often see the names of its regional companies: America First Insurance, Colorado Casualty, Golden Eagle Insurance, Hawkeye-Security Insurance, Indiana Insurance, Liberty Northwest, Montgomery Insurance, Ohio Casualty, Peerless Insurance and Wausau Insurance Companies.

With this merger, Liberty Mutual will become the country's fifth-biggest property insurer. Our lawyers in Maryland deal mostly with Liberty Mutual, Ohio Casualty, and Montgomery Insurance. I believe the Maryland cases are going to be put under the Ohio Casualty umbrella, according to an Ohio Casualty adjuster I spoke with yesterday who had our case – which was a Montgomery Insurance case – transferred to him.

Relatively speaking – an important qualification – I think that both the Liberty Mutual insurance companies and Safeco are fairly reasonable to deal with in personal injury cases, although my partner Laura Zois was forced to try a case a few months ago after a ridiculous offer from a Safeco adjuster that I really like. The jury apparently agreed and awarded approximately five times the settlement offer.