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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.

women driversWhen 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.

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.