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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a study this week, showing that three separate devices designed specifically to alert drivers when infants and children are left alone in a car do not work properly. Part of a campaign to raise awareness and prevent heatstroke, the study results say that these devices are unreliable when used on their own.

According to the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences, in 2012, 15 children and infants have died from hyperthermia from being left alone in a vehicle. Since 1998, almost 550 children have died, half of them under the age of two years old. These tragic deaths are unnecessary and several companies released products that are supposed to alert the driver if he or she walks away from the vehicle without extracting the child.

Three of those devices were tested by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They tested the ChildMinder Smart Clip System, the ChildMinder Smart Pad, and the Suddenly Safe Pressure Pad. The main problem they discovered was that car seats with lots of padding made it hard for the sensor to work properly.

The Louisiana Supreme Court this week overturned a jury’s verdict in a sidewalk slip and fall case. The court found that, as a matter of law, the defect on the sidewalk did not present an unreasonable risk of harm.

For slip and fall cases, plaintiffs’ lawyers want the story to begin in a good way. This one does: “Plaintiff was walking home from church when….” As she was walking, Plaintiff slipped and fell on a section of the sidewalk and sustained a comminuted fracture of the radius of her right arm.

The sidewalk ran into a driveway. Two sections had become, or were installed, depressed in relation to the rest of the sidewalk. So they sat a few inches lower than the remaining sidewalk. The elevation change was approximately one-and-one-quarter to one-and-one-half inch in addition to the elevation change created by the depression.

Barron Hilton got hit with a $4.9 million verdict after he hit a gas station attendant while he was driving drunk.

The news media identifies Barron Hilton as “the brother of Paris Hilton.” Crazy, right? His great grandfather builds an empire to the point where everyone knows the name Hilton, yet he is identified as “Paris’ brother.”

Anyway, Barron did something he shouldn’t do, namely get drunk and hurt someone really bad. His blood-alcohol level registered .14%. He was 18 at the time. You deserve a pass for almost anything at 18. But someone is permanently disabled because he went out and got wasted. So senseless. His driver couldn’t take him home?

SirushoWhen a couple goes out to dinner or whatever, who drives? Even among progressive people, the man usually drives.

This is probably a bad idea. Here’s why according to accident statistics (source – Google statistics that seem legit):

  • Men are 77 percent more likely than women to die in a car accident. Before you say anything, this is based on miles driven. So it builds in the math, the fact that men drive more often.

“Hey, I got a call today on a great bus accident case.” Honestly, accident attorneys don’t say this too often. The vast majority of intakes in bus accident cases are not meaningful claims worth pursuing. If you throw in the phrase “client fell getting off the bus”, the chances of that claim being a case are about the same as Brett Favre winning the husband of the year award.

But there is a reason why smart lawyers listen to the whole story. A California jury awarded a man $6.4 million in a lawsuit stemming from brain injuries he suffered getting off of a bus. The man, tragically already a quadriplegic, was dropped while getting off the bus, causing a severe brain injury. Under California’s comparative negligence, the city will pay 17 percent of the damages and the bus company will pick up the balance. In Maryland, both would be jointly and severally liable because they are both proximate causes.

I have been trying for a while to find the time to summarize MAMSI v. Wu, a Maryland Court of Appeals opinion holding that health insurance companies may make benefits secondary to PIP benefits available for medical bills suffered in a car accident. You can read the full opinion here.

When a car accident lawyer hears from a client that “the accident caused my bulging disc,” it is unlikely that is medically accurate. But that does not mean that there cannot be a meaningful settlement or verdict at trial. Let me explain.

Many of us have bulging discs. Unlike a herniated disc, most bulging discs are not as the result of trauma. But, clearly, trauma can exacerbate a bulging disc that is otherwise dormant and has not caused any symptoms. Under Maryland accident law, the defendant is obligated to pay for the net harm caused by the accident.

This Maryland law that protects the vulnerable is reflected in Maryland pattern jury instruction 10:3:

The Baltimore Sun has an article on a fatal accident in Howard County, Maryland at Route 32 and River Road near the Carroll County border. The article underscores what is pretty easy to see on its face if you drive by that intersection a few times: everyone in the area viewed a fatality at this intersection as a “when a fatal accident happens” situation.

Twenty years ago, there was no traffic light just a few miles west of this intersection at Route 32 and Route 99. That intersection was a classic death trap that was waiting for the accidents that occurred there all the time. Eventually, a light was added.

Everyone hates additional traffic lights, particularly on long stretches of road like Route 32. But the choice between human life and another minute in traffic is an easy call. We don’t always frame the issue like this in the moment because we live in the moment. We have to get from Point A to Point B. But the death of a mother and her child sure changes the importance of that one minute more in traffic.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals today affirmed summary judgment against Plaintiffs in the case of Pulliam v. Motor Vehicle Administration, a tragic case involving the death of a man and his three children in a rear-end car accident at the intersection of Butterfly Lane and Jefferson Pike in Frederick County.

Faced with what I’m sure was a limited policy given the scope of the tragedy, Plaintiffs’ accident lawyer did what good accident lawyers do: they got creative. (I don’t know whose case this is. If you handled it, let me know so I can give you credit.)

Plaintiffs’ lawyer brought suit against the Maryland MVA and its Medical Advisory Board (MAB). The MAB required the at-fault driver to submit affidavits that he was seizure-free every three months because he had caused a prior accident three years earlier because of a seizure. Even though the at-fault driver did not submit such an affidavit that he was seizure-free, his license was not revoked.