Articles Posted in News Stories

In a bizarre story this morning, U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson was charge with felony hit-and-run. Police say Bryson caused two car accidents within minutes of one another in southern California.  He was found unconscious in his car.

If you have a pulse, you first thought was that he was drunk out of him mind. But the preliminary reports show that alcohol was not involved. Let’s put tis together. He causes two accidents. No alcohol. They find him essentially in a third accident because he was found unconscious. My prediction is that the man was either on drugs or, more likely, suffered some sort of seizure.

Let’s wait and see how it plays out. But my prediction is that this is not a bad guy, hit and run case but something very different.

In every state, there is a stretch of the highway or an intersection where car accidents commonly occur. We certainly have them in Maryland.

A group of folks got together (let’s be honest, a creative car accident lawyer got them together) and filed a class action lawsuit against the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. The lawsuit claimed that a particular stretch of highway on Interstate 44 was dangerous and the state should have done something to make the road safer.

The trial judge certified a class action finding that there were common questions of fact as to whether the pavement surface lacked proper skid resistance and was otherwise dangerous.

The Maryland Court of Appeals will jump into the battles of whether it is reasonable to allow speed and red light camera merchants to receive a “commission” every time the camera catches a violator. A group of Prince George’s, Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick County residents says the payments, made by Montgomery County, Gaithersburg, and Rockville, are illegal. [2018 update: the court found it reasonable.]

This is the latest in a long, long battle between libertarians and their brethren and the photo enforcement technology industry, that operates speed cameras and red light cameras for local municipalities. The two most common photo enforcement systems are red light cameras, designed to detect motorists who enter an intersection after the light has turned red, and speed cameras, designed to detect motorists going a certain amount over the posted speed limit. There is no question that people die in Maryland because people run red lights and they drive too fast.  The purpose is to discourage this activity.  Are companies and the government profiting off this effort?  Of course they are.

One stunning example of this is the case of the former CEO of Redflex.  This company is one of the leading providers of traffic cameras in the country. She pled guilty to bribery in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Chicago. She apparently posted a help wanted ad for a bagman in Chicago.  This is the kind of stuff that drives libertarians, and a lot of the rest of us, crazy.

When it comes to bringing in revenue and making headlines, law firms do a hell of job. The biggest ones bring in millions, even billions of dollars. They argue before the Supreme Court. They help shape global economies.

When it comes to designing websites, though, these firms are clueless. These are the folks who often charge upwards of $1000 per hour for their services, and yet their websites look like the work of some cut-rate freelance designers.

Inc. is right. Law firm blogs have awful designs. Wait? What was that? Really? Oh, yes, our law firm’s website also has an awful design. I would say it is a 1950’s design if they were making websites in 1950. But I do think we provide as much real information to lawyers and injury victims as any website in Maryland or even in the country.

Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving although the recommendation is not, as it probably should be, for hands-free phones (or passengers). Maryland already had passed a similar law.

This recommendation underscores that the federal government is growing increasingly concerned by statistics that show cell phones are killing people in massive numbers. What would have been more impressive is asking for a ban on cell phones for drivers. Period. But regardless of the death toll, that is not in the political cards, at least not now.

The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld a $10 million verdict awarded to a truck driver who slipped and fell on grease while making a delivery to Walmart, resulting in a back injury requiring multiple spinal surgeries.

The Colorado Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s determination that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was entitled to a new trial. The female truck driver incurred approximately $500,000 in medical bills, and was unable to return to work after the fall. As such, her truck, in which she also lived, was repossessed.

The award, originally $15 million, was reduced by $5 million due to the state’s cap on noneconomic damages, making this one of the highest judgments ever in a slip-and-fall case.

A wrongful death suit has been filed in Utah, stemming from a horrific boating accident.

The facts here are rather unbelievable. The suit contends that the driver of a boat negligently struck the decedent while she was swimming, causing critical injuries, as the propeller “tore” into her torso and lower abdomen. It gets worse from here. According to witnesses, after striking the swimmer, the boat turned around and the boat’s occupants were overheard calling to the woman. They were heard yelling, “Hey lady, are you all right?” The witnesses said that the defendants talked to the decedent, but did not offer aide and left the scene, leaving her in the water bleeding and severely injured.

In addition to five John Does, three men were named in the suit, claiming that the men failed their “duty” to use “reasonable care” to avoid an accident. The suit further claims that the power boat was operated in a negligent and reckless manner. The driver and at least one other occupant had smoked marijuana prior to the accident, and at least three of the occupants had been drinking alcohol.

According to the National Safety Council, a person’s risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 88. The risk of being killed by lightning is roughly 1 in 84,000. The risk of being killed in a fireworks discharge is about 1 in 386,000.

A tow truck driver was struck and killed this morning by a hit-and-run driver on Route 100 in Glen Burnie during rush hour. He got killed near where I work. He lives in the same town I do.

Certainly, there is a desire for all of us to sigh a bit of relief and say, “Okay, I would not be helping a sewage truck on the side of the road. That couldn’t have been me.” But have you ever been pulled over on the side of the road. Of course you have. This could have happened to you, me or any one of us.

The next step is to find creative ways to blame the victim. Why was he so close to the road? Shouldn’t he have seen it coming? We all have this attribution bias, to varying extents. When you peel that away, what you have is a poor guy who was probably trying to feed his family and while doing so died for no good reason.

The Baltimore Sun reports today on the tragic death of a Glen Burnie man who died after a car accident with an SUV being driven by an unsupervised teenager on a learner’s permit. Apparently the at-fault driver, a nineteen year old who lived in Millersville, was driving on her learner’s permit with another 19 year-old.

This is the 19th fatal car accident in Anne Arundel County this year. Not every story gets a lot of attention. The angle the media is taking on this one is that the supervising driver was not old enough.

Easy narrative but I doubt it would have made a difference here. Police said they had no evidence that drugs, alcohol or speeding contributed to the crash. Some people just don’t pay attention to where they are going. When this happens, people can die. If my mother and her spotless 50 year driving record had been in the car seat next to this young girl, I doubt it would have made much of a difference. The scary reality is what happened to this man could have happened to your kids or mine if they were in the same place at the same time in Crofton as this man tragically was on Sunday.