Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

I frequently get an email that is some version of this one on the diminished value of cars after a crash:

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.

The general statute of limitations in Maryland is three years, as set forth in Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings ยง 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

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.