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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 the 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.

Facts of Pulliam

The battlefield in this appellate battle was whether Pulliam’s driver’s license had been properly suspended by the MVA. Pulliam claimed that the MVA had suspended his license without providing him with adequate notice or an opportunity to contest the suspension. The MVA, on the other hand, argued that Pulliam had been properly notified of the suspension and that he had been given a fair opportunity to contest it.  For context, Pulliam was not having license issue for bad behavior – he was having seizures.