The “Seatbelt Defense” in Maryland Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

Can An Insurer Refuse to Pay If You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt?

Woman fastens a seat belt. Safe driving conceptUnder Maryland law, all passengers in a motor vehicle in motion on public property must wear a seatbelt. What is the impact, then, on your right to recover compensation for an injury if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident while not buckled in? With Maryland’s strict “contributory negligence” approach, will you be banned from recovering damages for your injuries?

Maryland Rejects the Seatbelt Defense

Though Maryland is one of only three states that still follow the principle of contributory negligence, where any carelessness or negligence by an injured party serves as a bar to recovery, Maryland has held that insurance companies may not refuse to pay an insurance claim because the injured party was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of an accident. This is based on findings that whether or not an injured party is wearing a seatbelt has nothing to do with what actually caused the accident. Under the Maryland statute governing liability in motor vehicle accidents where an injured party was not wearing a seatbelt, a defendant may not introduce evidence of such a failure in order to show contributory negligence or to reduce damages. In fact, the parties may not make any reference to seatbelts at trial unless the design, installation, manufacture, supply or repair of the seatbelt is an issue.

ProvenMarylandPersonal Injury Attorney

Maryland SuperLawyerJonathan Scott Smithhas fought for the rights of injured people across the state for more than 30 years.Highly respected by his colleagues in the legal community for his courtroom skills, Attorney Smith wasnamed a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine, and has long held an AV-rating under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System.The National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization, lists him among the top 100 attorneys in the state of Maryland.

Smith has also earned theprestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well asa perfect10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Aggressive Howard County, Maryland Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Exceptions to Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Approach

Situations Where Your Liability May Not Prevent Recovery for Personal Injury

Unlike most states, Maryland still follows the common law concept of “contributory negligence” when establishing liability for personal injury. That means that, should the jury find that you (as the injured party) were in any way responsible for causing the accident, you cannot recover anything. Most other states allocate liability based on degree of fault.

There are, however, instances in Maryland where the contributory negligence rule does not apply:

  • Cases involving injuries to persons aged five and younger—The Maryland courts have concluded that children of such age lack the capacity to understand the inherent dangers or risks that are a part of everyday life
  • Product liability claims—The Maryland courts have held product manufacturers to a higher standard
  • Personal injury cases where the “last clear chance” rule may apply—This longstanding principle of tort law holds the person who had the last opportunity to avoid an accident to the higher standard

Proven Baltimore County Personal Injury Lawyer

Attorney Jonathan Scott Smith, a Maryland SuperLawyer, has protected the rights of injured people across the state of Maryland for more than three decades. Highly regarded by his colleagues in the legal community for his courtroom skills, Attorney Smith has long been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine, and has long held an AV-rating under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System. The National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization, has listed him among the top 100 attorneys in the state of Maryland.

Smith has also earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Proven Howard County, Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Common Defenses in Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits

Arguments a Defendant May Make to Minimize Liability

Common Defenses in Motor Vehicle Accident LawsuitsIn the aftermath of a car, truck or motorcycle accident, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for lost wages, unreimbursed medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship or consortium. As a part of the legal process, you can expect the defendant to raise certain defenses in an attempt to escape or reduce liability. Those can include:

  • Allegations of contributory negligence—Maryland is one of the few states that still apply this legal theory. Under the concept of contributory negligence, if the defendant can show that you were in any way responsible for the accident, your claim may be barred.
  • The injuries you claim were pre-existing—This asserts that you suffered any alleged injuries in another accident or incident that happened before the car wreck
  • Your injuries were caused by the negligence of another defendant—There may be allegations of roadway defects, dangerous or defective products, or other factors outside of your control that the defendant contends caused the accident
  • You failed to take reasonable steps to minimize your injury or loss—If you waited to seek medical care or ignored the recommendations of medical professionals, the defendant may argue that you made your situation worse

Proven Marylan Personal Injury Lawyer

Attorney Jonathan Scott Smith, a Maryland SuperLawyer, has aggressively represented injured people throughout the greater Baltimore area and across Maryland for more than three decades. Known for for his courtroom skills, Attorney Smith has long been AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System (the highest rating possible) and has also been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. The National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization, has called him one of the top 100 attorneys in Maryland.

Jonathan has also earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Proven Prince George’s County, Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

What Is Strict Liability in a Personal Injury Claim?

The Difference between Negligence and Strict Liability

Aggressive dog is barking. Young man with angry black dog on the leash.

In Maryland, most personal injury claims are based on a legal theory of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that the person from whom you seek compensation (the “defendant”) failed to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances, causing an accident that resulted in actual losses.

Some personal injury claims, though, such as dog bite lawsuits, fall under a legal principle known as “strict liability.” In essence, the concept of strict liability, usually set forth in a statute, or written law, allows an injured person to recover damages without the need to show negligence. Instead, an injured person need only show that the defendant met the requirements of the stature.

For example, under the Maryland dog bite law, a dog owner will be liable “for any injury, death, or loss to person or property” caused by a dog when the dog is “running at large.” There’s no requirement that the injured person show that the dog owner knew or should have known that the dog might engage in aggressive behavior. The only exceptions, as set forth in the Maryland law, are:

  • If the victim is trespassing on the dog owner’s property
  • If the victim is committing or attempting to commit a crime on the dog owner’s property
  • If the victim is committing or attempting to commit a crime against any person
  • If the victim is provoking the dog immediately before or at the time of the attack

Aggressive Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney

Maryland SuperLawyer, Jonathan Scott Smith has fought for the rights of injured people throughout the greater Baltimore metro area and across the state of Maryland for more than 30 years. Known and respected by his colleagues in the legal profession for his courtroom skills, Attorney Smith has long been AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System (the highest rating possible) and has also been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. The National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization, has called him one of the top 100 attorneys in Maryland.

Smith has also earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Proven Howard County, Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

How a Jury Calculates Damages for Pain and Suffering

Determining the Amount of Non-Economic Losses

How a Jury Calculates Damages for Pain and SufferingWhen you have been hurt in any type of accident in Maryland as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have the right to file a lawsuit seeking full and fair compensation for all your losses. Some of your damages will be easy to calculate—lost income or out-of-pocket medical bills, for example. Those are known as “economic damages.” Other losses, though, including pain and suffering, are less tangible and harder to determine. They’re known as “non-economic” damages.

How Does a Court Calculate Damages for Pain and Suffering?

Because “pain and suffering” is a subjective term, with no documentation to support the measure of damages, juries can take a number of approaches:

  • Some juries apply a “multiplier,” calculating the total amount of economic damages and multiplying it by a certain factor, based on the nature of the injuries, the amount and potential duration of the pain and suffering. For example, a jury may calculate in lost income and medical bills and multiply it by two, assessing pain and suffering at $1 million.
  • Some juries will attempt to identify a reasonable amount of non-economic damages, based again on the severity of the injuries, their duration and the frequency of any pain and suffering, among other factors

Proven Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney

Maryland SuperLawyer Jonathan Scott Smith has fought for the rights of injured people in Baltimore County and across the state for more than 30 years. Highly regarded by his colleagues in the legal profession as a trial lawyer, Jonathan is AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System (the highest rating possible) and has been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. He has also been called one of the top 100 attorneys in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization.

Smith has also earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Results-Oriented Howard County, Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The Compensation You Can Pursue after an Accident

Damages Available in a Personal Injury LawsuitWhen another person acts carelessly and causes an accident, you have a right to seek damages, or monetary compensation, for any loss or injury sustained because of their negligence. There are six types of compensatory damages that a jury can award:

  • Lost wages or income—You have a right to be reimbursed for any lost income caused by your inability to work, both now and in the future. If your injuries make it impossible for you to work again, you can receive damages calculated based on a reasonable date of retirement.
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering—A jury can award you monetary payment for physical and emotional distress and discomfort, including prospective pain and suffering
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses—You have a right to have the defendant pay for all reasonable and necessary medical costs not covered by insurance
  • Loss of companionship or consortium—A jury can award damages to compensate you for the loss of intimate relations with a spouse or the loss of love, affection and care with other family members
  • Loss of enjoyment of life—This compensates you for the inability to engage in the normal activities of daily life, or in activities that you enjoyed before the accident
  • Property damage or loss—You can seek compensation for the loss of value in property or for the total loss of property

Results-Oriented Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney

A longtime Maryland SuperLawyer, Jonathan Scott Smith has aggressively protected the rights of injured people in Baltimore County and across the state for more than three decades. Well-respected in the legal community for his skill and experience in the courtroom, Attorney Smith is AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System (the highest rating possible) and has been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. He has also been called one of the top 100 attorneys in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization.

Smith has also earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Experienced Carroll County, Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Protecting Your Rights after an Accident

The Steps to Take to Maximize Physical and Financial Recovery

Protecting Your Rights after an AccidentAfter any type of accident, there are specific measures you need to take to give yourself the best chance of full physical and financial recovery:

  • Seek immediate medical attention—Be willing to go to the hospital by ambulance, if necessary. Don’t try to be strong or heroic—if you can’t move under your own power or you’re experiencing significant pain or discomfort, wait until emergency personnel arrive and defer to their judgment. Even if you can walk away from an accident, go to an urgent care or visit your primary care doctor. Many symptoms may not be immediately present.
  • Gather information/evidence—Help your legal team by getting contact information from parties and witnesses. In addition, use your phone camera to take pictures of anything related to the accident, from injuries to property damage to environmental conditions.
  • Hire experienced legal counsel—The sooner, the better. You may be surprised to encounter difficulties with an insurance carrier. Let your lawyer be your liaison with adjusters. Your attorney will also ensure that you take the right steps to protect all your legal rights.

Proven Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer

A longtime Maryland SuperLawyer, Jonathan Scott Smith has fought for the rights of injured people in Baltimore and across the state for more than 30. Known in the legal community for his courtroom skills, Attorney Smith is AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System (the highest rating possible) and has been selected as a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. He’s earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Smith has also been called one of the top 100 attorneys in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization. He holds a 10.0 (Superb rating) as a litigation attorney from AVVO, as well as AVVO’s Client’s Choice Award, with an average client review of 5 stars.

Aggressive Montgomery County Accident Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

What Is a Deposition in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What Is the Purpose of a Deposition? What Is the Process?

What Is a Deposition in a Personal Injury Lawsuit? In the aftermath of an accident, when you have been hurt because of the wrongful acts of another person, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses by filing a personal injury lawsuit in court. As a part of that process, you may be required to appear for a deposition. What is a deposition and how is it used in a personal injury lawsuit? What does a deposition look like?

What Is a Deposition?

A deposition is one of the tools used in the American legal system during the “discovery” phase of a trial, when attorneys for all parties are seeking to gather and assess all evidence. A deposition is the oral examination of a witness (who may also be a party) by attorneys for all parties in the dispute. A court reporter is present at the deposition, which is typically held at the offices of one of the attorneys (though that is not a requirement). The witness is sworn to an oath and must answer truthfully or risk charges of perjury.

Depositions serve a couple of purposes. They help attorneys gather information before trial, which can be used to build a case or pursue a settlement. Statements made at a deposition may also be introduced at trial, often to show contradictions between what a witness said at the deposition and what was said at trial.

Experienced Maryland Personal Injury Attorney

Maryland SuperLawyer Jonathan Scott Smith has fought for the rights of personal injury victims throughout the state for more than three decades. A proven trial lawyer, he has long been AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System and has been listed as a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. He has earned the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), and also holds a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney. Smith has also been included among the top 100 attorneys in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization.

Proven Howard County Accident Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Negotiating a Settlement to a Personal Injury Claim

How Does a Settlement Work? What Are the Benefits?

Negotiating a Settlement to a Personal Injury ClaimIn the aftermath of a personal injury, you have the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for injury and loss caused by someone else’s wrongful act. Though your case may go to trial, it’s far more common that you’ll “settle out of court.”

What Is an “Out-of-Court Settlement”?

In a negotiated settlement, the parties agree to resolve their differences without any further involvement of the courts. The injured party (the “plaintiff”) will typically agree to accept a specific payout, either as a lump sum or in a structured settlement. In exchange for that payment, the plaintiff will waive any remaining rights to seek compensation from the defendant for losses suffered in the accident.

The negotiated settlement is a binding and enforceable contract, so it’s necessary to put it in writing and have all parties sign it. If either of the parties violate the terms of the settlement agreement, the other party may pursue remedies for breach of contract in court.

Why Should You Pursue an “Out-of-Court Settlement”?

There are number of reasons why an injured person might try to negotiate a settlement:

  • You’ll receive payment sooner than you will if the case goes to trial—It may take months or years to get to trial. Furthermore, a verdict may be appealed.
  • You’ll eliminate significant stress and anxiety—There’s really no such thing as an “open and shut” case. When you settle, you eliminate uncertainty and doubt, and can get on with your life.
  • You’ll probably pay less—Though your attorney will likely take a contingency fee for legal services, you’ll still be responsible for certain expenses associated with litigation. The sooner you settle, the less potential cost you’ll typically incur.

Proven Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney

Jonathan Scott Smith, a Maryland SuperLawyer, brings more than 30 years of experience to injured people in Baltimore and across the state. Highly regarded by his colleagues in the legal profession for his courtroom skills, Attorney Smith has long been AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System and has been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. He carries the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Smith has been listed among the top 100 attorneys in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” professional organization. He has also earned a 10.0 (Superb rating) as a litigation attorney from AVVO, as well as AVVO’s Client’s Choice Award, with an average client review of 5 stars.

Proven Howard County Accident Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has suffered any type of loss as the result of a personal injury, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

Premises Liability in New Jersey Winter Weather

Do Property Owners Have a Duty to Remove Ice and Snow?

Premises Liability in New Jersey Winter WeatherAccording to weather data compiled at the Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, Baltimore gets about 20 inches of snow every year, with most of it falling in January and February. The city has at least an inch of snow on the ground for nearly two weeks every winter (13 days average), and up to 5 inches of accumulation an average of three days each year. That snow can easily turn into ice, and both can pose risks to motorists or pedestrians.

The Duties of Property Owners in Baltimore Winter Weather

In Maryland, residential and commercial property owners must take reasonable steps to minimize the risk of injury to anyone legally visiting their property. There is no requirement that they absolutely prevent the occurrence of any hazardous conditions involving ice or snow. They must, however, reasonably monitor the premises to discover potentially dangerous situations, and must either remedy the problem, warn potential visitors of the danger, or prevent visitors from obtaining access to those areas of the property where the dangers exist. Accordingly, with an accumulation of ice and/or snow, a property owner must do one of the following:

  • Remove the snow or ice
  • Post visible warnings advising potential visitors of the snowy or icy conditions
  • Cordon off areas of the property where snow and/or ice will or have accumulated

Proven Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney

Jonathan Scott Smith, a Maryland SuperLawyer, has fought for the rights of injured people in Baltimore and across the state for more than three decades, including people who have been hurt in winter weather accidents. Highly regarded by his colleagues in the legal profession for his skills in the courtroom. The National Trial Lawyers Association, a “by invitation only” organization, has named him one of the top 100 attorneys in Maryland.

Attorney Smith has long been AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Rating System and has been named a “Top-Rated Lawyer” by the American Lawyer Magazine. He carries the prestigious Client’s Choice Award from AVVO, with an average client review of 5 stars (the highest rating possible), as well as a perfect 10.0 Superb rating from AVVO as a trial attorney.

Results-Oriented Baltimore County Car Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall or motor vehicle accident caused by snowy or icy conditions on residential or commercial property, we can help. Contact attorney Jonathan Scott Smith by e-mail or call our offices at 410-740-0101 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is free. We represent injured people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County in Maryland.

ADDRESS :

  • Jonathan Scott Smith 10490 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 200 ,Columbia, MD 21044-4960

  • Call for consultation 410-740-0101