Articles Posted in Personal Injury

If someone has wrongfully and intentionally caused you great emotional harm in Maryland, you may have a claim for the intentional inflection of emotional distress.

Maryland law, however, does not make it easy to bring an intention infliction of emotional distress claim.  To bring this tort, the plaintiff must demonstrate a “truly devastating effect” from the defendant’s behavior.  The emotional response must be so awful that “no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”

What Are the Elements of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in Maryland?

The elements of the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress in Maryland are: (1) the conduct is intentional or reckless; (2) the conduct is extreme and outrageous; (3) there is a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress; and (4) the emotional distress is severe. In order for distress to be sufficiently severe to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, "the plaintiff must show that he suffered a severely disabling emotional response to the defendant's conduct, and that the distress was so severe that "no reasonable man could be expected to endure it.

Does Maryland Law Allow for Negligent Inflection of Emotional Distress Claims?

Maryland law does not recognize the independent tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. But emotional distress is part of the plaintiff's damages in any case where there is an underlying tort, such as negligence.

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 limitation 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

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For years – it all started right after Henry Ford – accident lawyers have been listening to clients and their spouses say they should be entitled to compensation for loss of services even when the victim survives the accident. More Maryland accident lawyers are paying closer attention to this and including these damages in personal injury lawsuits. loss of services cases Jury Verdict Research put out a study based on verdicts rendered from February 1998 through February 2010 for loss of services damages in non-wrongful death cases. The overall median compensatory award for loss of services in non-death cases was $25,000. The average, however, was $234,764. Clearly, and this is interesting, juries are more receptive to these claims when the accident victim is a married woman. The median award was $40,000 for wives and the average was $365,510.

Verdicts and Settlements Involving Loss of Services

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MAJ is putting on an auto negligence seminar called “Maximizing Auto Negligence Damages at

Mediation, Arbitration and District Court Trials” on April 29th in Columbia.

Moderators:

Governor O’Malley signed into Maryland law a version of the “Castle Doctrine” that provides civil immunity when defending your house or workplace.

This bill has no practical impact in the real world. Criminals are really not bringing successful claims against homeowners. But, as I explained on the Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog, immunities are all a part of what James Sawyer called the “Long Con.” Clearly, the commenters to this post disagree.

Deadspin has posted about a boy who has filed a lawsuit over injuries suffered while on the bleachers of a dodgeball middle school.

Apparently, the boy was in a car accident and had dental work done. The ball broke his new bridgework.

First, I think Deadspin completely screws up by naming the boy. I cannot imagine what the point would be.

The San Francisco Zoo agreed Thursday to settle its lawsuit against the two brothers who survived the fatal attack by an escaped tiger on Christmas Day 2007 for $900,000.

I really did not follow this accident very closely. I remember the allegations that I don’t think were ever proven that the victims taunted the tiger before it jumped out of its enclosure. But I bet it happened just like that.

Again, from a distance, this case has a “public relations nightmare turned into overpaying for the case” flavor to it.

The Maryland Daily Record reports that the number of docketed complaints of lawyer misconduct fell by nearly 24 percent in the final six months of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007. Maryland Bar Counsel Mel Hirshman called the statistically significant fall in client criticism “unexpected” in this time of economic turmoil because complaints against Maryland lawyers tend to increase during economic turbulence for two reasons: (1) clients are unable to pay their attorneys’ fees which sour relationships and (2) Maryland lawyers who feel compelled to nibble into IOLTA accounts because they are behind on their own bills.

Maryland personal injury lawyers are immune from the former and largely immune from the latter simply because money rarely sits for extended periods of time in IOLTA accounts in most personal injury cases. In fact, the number of complaints fell sharply in personal injury and property damage cases, to 37 percent – down from 48 percent a year earlier.

Three possible reasons for this: (1) lawyers are becoming more ethical and this is leading to a drop in complaints; (2) in a poor economy, people have less energy to spend on anger and spite because they are more concerned with their economic situations, leading to fewer complaints – valid or invalid – that their lawyers are jerks, unresponsive, etc.; or (3) it’s just a statistical anomaly.

The Maryland Association 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

The Maryland Daily Record has an article today on a Baltimore County jury which has awarded $44,000 for attorney’s fees to a Hunt Valley lawyer from his former client, a home builder.

Except for the expert witness fees I receive when I’m acting as an expert witness in legal malpractice cases, our firm does not bill by the hour. So I found nothing about the specific fact pattern of this case that I think is interesting to personal injury lawyers or their clients.

What I found interesting was the plaintiff’s lawyer’s conversation with the jurors after the trial regarding an 18 percent interest rate on outstanding invoices as outlined in the lawyer’s retainer agreement. The jurors apparently said they did not think 18% was appropriate given the current economy.