Have you been injured in an accident? If so,contact our Baltimore office to schedule a free consultation, you can give us a call at (410) 837-2144 to speak with one of ourBaltimore, Maryland personal injury attorneys at William G. Kolodner P.A. Since 1977, we’ve been dedicated to helping accident victims get the money they deserve.
Suffering an unexpected accident or injury can be devastating. If you are hurt because someone else was negligent, you may be able to hold them accountable. The money you recover can make a massive difference in your life for years to come.
Our attorneys know how important your injury claim is, and we’re prepared to maximize your recovery. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.
What Is a Personal Injury Case?
A personal injury case is a legal dispute between two parties – the plaintiff and a defendant. The case is brought by the plaintiff, who claims to have suffered an injury because of something the defendant did or failed to do.
The purpose of the personal injury case is to force the defendant to compensate the plaintiff for their damages, injuries, and suffering.
In Maryland, personal injury cases are based on tort law. This is distinct from criminal law. Torts are actions or conduct that violate another person’s rights or privileges. Torts can be unintentional (e.g., negligence) or intentional (e.g., assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress).
Why Should I File a Personal Injury Claim in Baltimore?
Accidents can happen, even when you’re being cautious and careful. If you suffer an injury because someone else is negligent or careless, you shouldn’t have to file an injury claim or personal injury lawsuit on your own.
When you file a claim, your attorney can demand to be compensated for your injuries, pain, and suffering. Don’t underestimate the importance of financial recovery.
According to the National Safety Council, an evident injury costs, on average, $27,800. The costs of a disabling injury are more than three times greater – averaging roughly $96,200. Those figures don’t even factor in the intangible injuries you experience, like anxiety, depression, or chronic pain.
By filing a personal injury claim, you can recover money to minimize the financial stresses and burdens of an accident.
Maryland Personal Injury Laws
States have different ways of handling cases where more than one person’s negligence contributes to an accident. In some states, fault is not an absolute bar to recovery. Rather, it simply affects how much money a victim can receive.
In Maryland, however, fault is an absolute bar to recovery. Under the state’s pure contributory negligence rules, you will not be entitled to seek damages or recover compensation if you’re allocated any responsibility or fault for your accident.
Because of this law, it is absolutely critical to work with an attorney if you’ve been injured in an accident in Baltimore. That’s the best way to make sure that you’re not assigned any blame you don’t deserve.
What is Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury law focuses on injuries to a person’s physical self, mental health, or emotional well-being, rather than injuries to tangible property. When a person suffers an injury of this sort, personal injury law may provide them with the right to seek compensation. This is true if their injury is the consequence of another person’s negligent, inadvertent, or intentional conduct. This is known as a “personal injury case” and generally falls under Maryland state tort law.
The Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases
In personal injury cases, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. In other words, the plaintiff has to be able to persuade a judge or jury that their version of events is true.
How convincing does the plaintiff’s story have to be? In Maryland, the standard of proof for personal injury cases is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is satisfied when the evidence suggests that the plaintiff’s story is more likely true than not. Based on all of the evidence, testimony, and arguments, a fact finder simply has to believe that there’s a 51 percent chance or more that the plaintiff’s account is true.
Note, there are times when the burden of proof shifts. In cases where a plaintiff builds their case on the grounds that a defendant was “negligent per se” – or negligent because they violated a safety law that was intended to prevent the type of harm that occurred – the burden begins with the plaintiff and then shifts to the defendant. The defendant is presumed to be negligent unless and until they can prove otherwise.
How is Fault Established in a Personal Injury Case?
In order to win a personal injury case, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant was at fault for their injuries. How fault is established ultimately depends on the grounds for bringing the personal injury case.
In Maryland, most personal injury cases are based on the argument that the plaintiff was harmed because the defendant was negligent. Negligence basically means that the defendant’s actions or inactions weren’t reasonable under the circumstances and, as a result, caused the plaintiff to get hurt. There are four primary elements of a negligence claim.
Duty: The plaintiff must have owed the defendant a duty of care. A duty of care means that the defendant has a responsibility to act reasonably and in a way that does not put others at an increased risk of suffering harm or injury. The defendant must exercise the degree of care and caution that a reasonable person in the same situation would use.
When does a defendant assume a duty of care? It depends. Generally speaking, there are times when we all owe one another a duty of care. For instance, if you’re driving a car, you have to do so in a way that is safe and doesn’t put others in harm’s way. There are times when a duty is established based on the special relationship between two people. This can happen when you visit the doctor or enter someone else’s property by invitation.
Breach: Once it’s established that the defendant did, in fact, owe the plaintiff a duty of care, it must be proven that this duty of care was breached in some way. In other words, the plaintiff failed to act reasonably and created a situation that put the plaintiff in a dangerous situation.
A defendant can breach a duty of care by through action (e.g., driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol) or inaction (e.g., not taking the keys away from a friend who is visibly impaired and unable to drive safely). The bottom line is that the defendant did not do anything (or enough) to satisfy the duty of care owed to the plaintiff.
Causation: It’s not enough that the defendant had and breached a duty of care. The defendant’s behavior must have caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury. Maryland law requires that plaintiffs have evidence to establish causation in two distinct ways.
“Cause in fact” means that the plaintiff would not have gotten hurt if it had not been for the defendant’s actions (or inaction). Put another way, “but for” the defendant’s conduct, the plaintiff would not have been harmed. What happens when you look at the situation as a whole and remove the defendant’s conduct? Would the plaintiff still have gotten hurt? If so, the defendant’s actions were not “cause in fact” of the plaintiff’s injuries. If the plaintiff would not have gotten hurt, the defendant’s actions were “cause in fact” of the plaintiff’s harm.
Then there’s “proximate cause,” which is often more difficult to establish. Proximate cause is used to narrow the scope of causation. It’s very subjective, and there’s no one hard-and-fast definition. Basically, how closely connected are the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s injury? There are a few ways to determine if proximate cause exists.
- Foreseeability: How much of an impact did the defendant’s conduct have in causing the plaintiff to get hurt?
- Direct Cause: Was the plaintiff’s injury a foreseeable or direct consequence of the defendant’s actions?
- Scope of Risk: Was the plaintiff’s injury within the scope of harm that made the defendant’s actions dangerous in the first place?
- Repetition and Enhancement of Risk: Did the fact that the defendant repeated a dangerous or risky behavior increase the likelihood that the plaintiff would get hurt?
Proximate cause essentially boils down to whether or not it’s reasonable to hold the defendant responsible for the harm suffered by the plaintiff.
Injury: Finally, the plaintiff must be able to prove that they have suffered damages (economic or non-economic) because of the way the defendant acted. Damages can be monetary (e.g., the cost of replacing damaged property, medical bills, lost wages), physical (e.g., disfigurement, scarring), and/or emotional (e.g., pain and suffering, depression, PTSD, loss of enjoyment of life).
Once all four elements of negligence are established by a preponderance of the evidence, the plaintiff can be awarded compensation for their injuries.
Negligence Per Se
Sometimes plaintiffs in personal injury matters don’t have to go through the trouble of proving that a defendant was negligent. This is the case when a plaintiff gets hurt when a defendant violates a safety law that’s intended to prevent the type of harm that occurs. When this happens, the plaintiff can argue that the defendant is “negligent per se.”
In order to establish negligence per se, the plaintiff must show that the law that was violated was specifically intended to prevent (a) the defendant’s specific conduct and (b) the type of harm the plaintiff has experienced. It doesn’t matter whether the defendant knew about the law or statute. The fact that it exists and was violated is sufficient.
For example, let’s say Joey is T-Boned by a drunk driver at an intersection in downtown Baltimore. The state of Maryland has laws on the books that prohibit the operation of motor vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When filing a lawsuit, Joey could invoke the doctrine of negligence per se, pointing out that the driver broke the state DUI law, which is there to prevent what happened from happening.
Once the doctrine of negligence per se is invoked, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant. So, the ball moves into the defendant’s court. If they can’t offer a legitimate excuse or disprove the allegations, they’ll be considered negligent and responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit on a highway on the outskirts of Baltimore might be considered negligence. Doubling the speed limit on a city street during rush hour would likely be considered gross negligence. Gross negligence is conduct that’s way more than mere carelessness. It’s behavior that’s reckless, voluntary, or exhibits a conscious disregard for others.
Why is gross negligence important if you can establish fault by simply proving negligence? Gross negligence can open the door to higher awards of compensation. In some cases, punitive damages might even be on the table.
There are times when a defendant can be liable for a plaintiff’s injuries regardless of how much care, attention, or caution they exercised. This is thanks to something called “strict liability.” Strict liability is imposed by state law in very specific circumstances. It’s most often applied in dog bite and product liability cases.
For instance, under Maryland state law, an owner is strictly liable for harm caused by their dog, regardless of whether the owner knew the dog was vicious and despite any steps the owner took to prevent the dog from attacking. Similarly, companies can be strictly liable if their products are defective or unreasonably dangerous, even if the company took great care in designing, manufacturing, or marketing those products.
Common Baltimore, MD Personal Injury Practice Areas
Baltimore has some of the most dangerous roads in the United States. Even if you’re extremely careful while driving, a motor vehicle accident can still occur. Insurance companies will be quick to deny your claim or offer you a lowball settlement. Our car accident attorneys won’t let them push you around. We’ve been challenging insurers in Baltimore for decades and know what it takes to win.
Riding a bike isn’t just for kids anymore. The practice has become increasingly popular with commuters in and around Baltimore. However, Baltimore’s roads were designed and built long before riding a bike was a regular form of transportation. As a result, riders are often forced into traffic with cars, buses, and trucks. Bike accidents can and do happen. Our attorneys will help you pursue damages from negligent drivers, government agencies, and anyone else who might be liable for your injuries after a crash.
Not everyone who is involved in an accident survives. While money will not undo a tragedy, it can help to make life a little bit easier after a loved one dies unexpectedly. This type of claim is known as a wrongful death claim. Our attorneys are prepared to do whatever we can to help you get a little bit of financial justice from the person (or parties) who are responsible for your pain and suffering.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and falls are a leading cause of injury and death in Baltimore. If you’ve fallen on someone else’s property, you could be entitled to compensation. However, don’t expect the property owner to admit fault and write you a check. Our attorneys will carefully investigate your slip and fall, gather evidence to support your claim, and fight to hold the negligent owner responsible for the harm they’ve caused.
When there’s an accident, motorcyclists are more likely to get seriously injured than occupants of other vehicles. To make matters worse, negligent drivers often try to blame motorcyclists for accidents – even when that’s not the case. Our attorneys will stand up and defend you at every turn, working hard ot get you all of the money you need for your bills, expenses, and suffering.
Between I-95, I-675, and I-83, there are a lot of large commercial trucks moving in and through Baltimore. Drivers of these trucks are often tired, in a hurry, and distracted. Unfortunately, it’s others on the road who are most likely to get hurt when one of these drivers crashes. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, our team will work diligently to get money from the truck driver, their employer, and any other liable parties.
Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Cases in Baltimore, MD
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury cases:
Who Can File A Personal Injury Claim?
Generally speaking, you can file a personal injury claim if, because another person was negligent, you’ve (a) suffered an injury or (b) lost someone you love.
Accident victims have the primary right to file a personal injury claim and demand compensation from at-fault parties. However, that right isn’t lost when an accident victim dies.
Rather, it simply shifts to their beneficiaries. Family members and the victim’s executor can bring wrongful death and/or survival action claims. These actions can help to compensate the family for the costs and suffering associated with an untimely and avoidable death.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
No two accidents in Baltimore are the same. No two injuries are identical. All accident victims are unique, too. There’s really no standard value for a personal injury case. Instead, there are many factors that can and will influence what your case is worth. These are some things to consider:
- How serious are your injuries?
- Will your injuries interfere with your ability to work?
- Will your injury cause you to experience a permanent or total disability?
- Will you be able to take care of yourself, or will have to rely on others to perform everyday tasks?
- Was any property damaged in your accident?
- If so, how much will it cost to replace or repair the damage?
- Is it likely that you’ll suffer from chronic pain?
- How has the trauma of your accident and injury affected you?
- Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues because of your accident?
- Are you permanently disfigured or paralyzed?
- Are you still able to enjoy your life?
As a general principle, the more serious your injuries and catastrophic nature of the accident, the more compensation you may receive. Our Baltimore injury lawyers will work tirelessly to help you get all of the money you deserve.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Again, every case is different. The specific details of your case will influence how long it ultimately takes for your case to be resolved. Factors that are often important include:
- Whether fault for the accident is clear or contested
- How long you’ll need medical treatment
- How many different parties (and insurance companies) are involved
- Who the defendants in the case are
- Whether the insurance company that’s involved acts in good faith when considering and negotiating your claim, and
- Whether you’re willing and able to settle or have to take your case to a jury.
Cases that reach a settlement are typically shorter in length than those that go to trial. However, sometimes it’s important to take your time and not rush a settlement. Getting money in your hands quicker isn’t always the best course of action in the long run.
How Long Until I Receive Compensation?
Once your case is resolved in your favor, you will be entitled to compensation. How long it actually takes to get money in your hands will depend on whether you’ve negotiated a settlement or won in court.
Following a settlement, insurance companies will have an obligation to act in good faith and issue a timely payment without unnecessary delay.
Sometimes this could be a matter of days. Other times, it might take a couple of weeks. Playing games can lead to a bad faith lawsuit, and that’s something insurers will definitely want to avoid.
Payment can take longer after a jury verdict in your favor. That’s because insurance companies and at-fault parties have the option to appeal the decision. If that happens, it could be months or even years until you see a check.
However, our attorneys will be vigilant in getting the money you deserve in your hands as quickly as we can. We’ll stay on top of defendants and fight tenaciously on your behalf. Call William G. Kolodner P.A. for immediate assistance. We can get started on your case as soon as you ask for our help.
Call William G. Kolodner in Baltimore, MD Today For Help
If you or a loved one were injured due to someone’s negligence, call us today for help. Don’t sign anything or accept a settlement offer without first speaking to a personal injury attorney on our team. We’re available 24/7 to assist you.