Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

The Maryland Appellate Court recently decided a Maryland dram shop case after the tragic death of a man in a single-car crash that had allegedly been overserved at a Charles County bar.  The plaintiffs had the good fortune of drawing as the author of the opinion the  Maryland Supreme Court judge the wrote the dissenting opinion in Maryland’s last big dram shop case.

Plaintiffs still lost.

Facts of Willett v. Ape Hangers

Uber accident injury
Uber and Lyft are the new on-demand transportation (or “rideshare”) companies that have revolutionized the for-hire and taxi transportation business in the last few years. Users download the Uber or Lyft app to their mobile phone and set up an account with a credit card for payment.  Once set up, users can request a ride pickup from their phone to which nearby Uber or Lyft drivers in the area respond. The apps allow riders to track the driver and process payment electronically.

Lyft and Uber are relatively new companies, but they have exploded in popularity over the last 5 years. My sister is in Kenya right now, and she is traveling around by Uber. Lyft, Uber’s kid brother, is about to go public and make their founders and estimated $9.4 bazillion.  Car accidents involving Lyft or Uber drivers are becoming more and more common, and these cars flood our roads.

Claims Against Lyft or Uber

leg injury verdictsJury Verdict Research published data on verdicts in severe leg injury cases over the 10 years prior to October 2010. By severe, I mean severe: crush injuries and amputations. For injuries to one or both legs, and leg injuries resulting in varying degrees of leg amputations, the statistics are:

One or Both Legs $4,000,000 $2,400,000

The average verdict in these cases is approximately $4,000,000 and the median verdict is $2,400,000 for injuries to one or both legs, and leg injuries resulting in varying degrees of leg amputations.

The leg amputation categories include both traumatic and surgical amputations. The relatively insignificant difference surprised me between above the knee and below the knee amputations:

Above the knee $3,958,003 $2,588,649
Below the knee $4,930,186 $3,727,500
Bilateral Amputation $13,392,589 $5,012,500

As you can see, the median for bilateral amputations is a statistically insignificant difference from a single above the knee amputation.

This is interesting data and useful to use in negotiating your case. But asking the numbers to make sense is asking too much.

Settlements & Verdicts – Serious Leg Injuries

Below are summaries of cases resulting in verdicts or settlements where the primary injury was a serious leg injury,

Smith v. Elseroad (Baltimore City 2023) $425,000: The plaintiff was standing between two parked cars when the defendant motorist smashed his vehicle into the rear of one of the cars, pushing it forward into the plaintiff and crushing the plaintiff between the parked cars. The plaintiff suffered a bilateral leg crush injury resulting in permanent injuries, a right fibular head fracture, a permanent concave deformity on his calf, and permanent scarring on his lower body.

Hupp v. United States (D. Md. 2021) $729,000: Plaintiff suffered multiple fractures to his left ankle, requiring fusion and resulting in loss of motion and pain, as well as aggravation of preexisting condition, when the motorcycle he was operating was struck by a USPS mail truck that backed up from a parked position without warning, causing his left leg to be pinned under the motorcycle.

Johnson v. Bautista (Baltimore County 2021) $2,458,000: plaintiff suffered crush injuries to his right leg, including fractures to his right femur and tibia and nerve damage requiring surgery followed by physical therapy, and resulting in the permanent loss of feeling in his right foot and a combined right leg/lower extremity impairment rating of 46 percent. Jury awarded $208,000 in economic damages and $2.2 million for pain and suffering.

Thomas v. MTA (Baltimore City 2019) $1,200,000: plaintiff, a water taxi deckhand, suffered multiple fractures to her left leg and an open fracture of her left ankle, both of which required extensive surgeries, including placement of rods and screws and skin grafting, and resulted in extensive scarring on her leg. Case settled for $1.2 million.

Turner v. Brown (Baltimore City 2018) $390,394: plaintiff suffered a left leg hairline fracture, a left knee meniscus tear that required surgery when he was struck by a commercial vehicle driven by the defendant.

Patton v. Ruiz (P.G. County 2017) $1,584,296: plaintiff suffered right leg compound fractures, including a right knee fracture, resulting in persistent leg and knee pain and weakness and permanent radicular symptoms related to his leg and knee, when defendant allegedly made a left turn at an intersection on a steady red light and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle as it was proceeding through the intersection on a green light.

Koger v. Mabato (Baltimore City 2017) $1,203,013: Plaintiff was hit by a mobility bus in an intersection and suffered a fractured right distal femur, which required open reduction and internal fixation surgery and resulted in permanent impairment, as well as a fractured scapula, resulting in difficulty walking, standing, sitting and using stairs, continuing pain and permanent impairment of his right knee/leg.

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is an essential component of auto insurance that protects you when the at-fault driver who caused you injury or property either has no insurance or carries insufficient coverage to compensate for the damages sustained.

All of us with car insurance in Maryland have uninsured motorist coverage. It is mandatory. This page explains what you need to know if you are bringing an uninsured motorist claim in Maryland.

Everyone with Maryland Car Insurance Has Coverage

If you polled Maryland personal injury lawyers who handle car accident cases, most would choose Allstate as the “worst of the worst” among insurance companies to deal with on accident claims.

Personally, while I would not put Allstate at the top of my list of insurance companies I want to draw, I would not put them last, either. Don’t get me wrong. They are awful, and I hate them. Our lawyers sue them and their insureds all the time. But we are speaking in relative terms? Who are the worst three insurance companies to deal with in Maryland? Allstate is not on my list.

This post gives practical thoughts about Allstate claims in Maryland and includes a plug of why you should – in serious injury cases, anyway – hire a lawyer for your Allstate injury claim.

What is the median verdict and settlement value of shoulder surgery lawsuits? shoulder surgery verdicts settlements. The average settlement/verdict in Washington D.C. is $59,500. Maryland is less than half that: $42,636. The average settlement/verdict in a shoulder surgery case in Virginia is $60,000.

Our law firm has handled many shoulder surgery cases from the trauma of a car or truck accident.  These statistics are not very helpful in figuring out the settlement value of your shoulder injury case.  Why?   Because the settlements and verdicts in these cases are all over the map.

An “average” shoulder injury verdict tells you nothing about your case.  Also, liability and insurance matter.  So if it is a medical malpractice or premises liability case with iffy liability, you can’t compare that to a rear-end motorcycle accident case.

This post is supposed to be about a New Jersey Supreme Court decision on whether expert testimony for the admission of photographs of car or truck damage as probative to a plaintiff’s damages/injuries.

But I’m hijacking this post.  Because people see to want to know how to get a property damage photograph into evidence and the questions you have to answer this witness.  How do I know?  I saw it in our traffic analytics.  I’m not sure why that made sense but I want to give people what they want. So here we go:

How to Admit Photograph of Property Damage Pictures

Q: Are you familiar with this photograph?

A: Yes, I am.

Q: Can you describe what is shown in the photograph?

A: It shows the property damage picture to my vehicle after the crash.

Q: Was this photograph taken by you or someone you know?

A: I took the picture.

Q: Is this picture of your vehicle after the crash a true and accurate representation of you vehicle after the car crash with David Johnson on March 1, 2023

A: Yes.

Q: Is this photograph a fair and accurate depiction of what you saw at the time?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: Does this photograph accurately represent the scene as you recall it?

A: Yes, it does.

Q: Did you alter or manipulate this photograph in any way (2023 question we ask)?

A: No, I have not.

Q: Is this photograph a true and accurate representation of what it purports to depict?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: Your Honor, I would like to offer this photograph Exhibit A. We have established the foundation for its authenticity through the testimony of Mr. Davis, who took the photograph and can identify what is depicted in it. We ask that the photograph be admitted into evidence and made part of the record.”

Brenman v. Demellon

In Brenman v. Demellon, is a New Jersey Supreme Court decision on whether expert testimony for the admission of photographs of car or truck damage as probative to a plaintiff’s damages/injuries.

Simple facts:  the Plaintiff was driving in stop-and-go traffic when she was rear-ended by the Defendant. The Plaintiff allegedly suffered a herniated cervical disc requiring cervical fusion.


At trial, the Defendant sought to introduce photographs showing minimal damage to the rear bumper of Plaintiff’s car to contend that the Plaintiff could not have suffered a herniated disc in this accident given the property damage to the vehicles. Plaintiff filed a motion in limine seeking to bar the admission of the photographs absent expert proof to connect the condition depicted in the photographs to the biomechanical forces that resulted from the impact between the two cars.

The trial court admitted the photographs, specifically concluding that “[j]urors can infer from their viewing photographs that the plaintiff could not have been as seriously injured as she claimed” and noted they should leave this question to the discretion of the trial court.

Zero Damages

After an award of zero damages, the Plaintiff appealed, I’m sure with bitterness. The Appellate Division (New Jersey’s intermediate appellate court) reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, adopting a per se rule that requires expert testimony to prove a causal link between the extent of damage to an automobile in an accident and the cause or extent of injuries arising from that accident consistent with Delaware law in Davis v. Maute, 770 A.2d 36 (Del. 2001).

In that case, the Supreme Court of Delaware held that: (1) as a general rule, a party in an automobile accident case may not directly argue the relationship between the damage to the vehicles in the car accident and the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries caused by the accident absent expert testimony on the issue; (2) lawyers may not argue by implication what the lawyer could not argue indirectly, i.e., they may not characterize the accident as a fender-bender or otherwise downplay the seriousness of the accident; and (3) the lower court erred in admitting the photographs of the Plaintiff’s car without a specific instruction limiting the jury’s use of the photographs.

Bumper tap lawyers love Davis v. Maute because they want to keep out photographs of the crash because you want to say what is important is what happened inside the vehicle.  If you have a serous accident case with serious property damage, you want those pictures into evidence.

Supreme Court Reverses

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the admissibility of photographs of the vehicles rests on whether the photograph fairly and accurately depicts what it purports to represent and that this decision rests in the discretion of the trial court. The New Jersey Supreme Court specifically rejected a per se rule requiring expert testimony as a foundation for the admissibility of a photograph of a vehicle even when the photograph is used to show a correlation between the damage to the vehicle and the extent of a plaintiff’s injuries. There was, however, a dissenting opinion that urged a per se rule requiring expert testimony before the admission of property damage photos.

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The most common question I get from friends and acquaintances is whether you can sue if you are not injured in a car accident?   The answer is yes, but with caveats.

Most auto accidents do not result in any physical injuries (75% according to the NHTSA). Even when your vehicle is the only thing that is damaged, you can still file a lawsuit after an auto accident if you were not at fault. This is what is known as a “property damage” auto accident lawsuit. If you file a property damage auto tort case, you can get compensation for the full cost of any damage to your vehicle.

Can I Still Sue If I'm Not Insured in the Auto Accident?

Let’s set aside the property damage because I address that below. The question here is do you have pain and suffering in a car accident where you either had no physical injuries or did not seek medical treatment?

Valuing car accident cases for settlement in Maryland is a challenge. The most important thing is the severity of the injuries.

That is probably all that should matter. But many more variables drive how much money the insurance company will offer to settle an injury claim before a lawsuit is filed. This is a list of 14 factors that really matter in determining the settlement value of any auto collision injury claim:

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I dislike trying personal injury cases with high-low agreements that contain the size of the verdict. If you will force us to take the case to trial, I would prefer the chance of the upside. My gut-level reaction is no deal.

But the problem with this bravado is clients. Our law firm has a decent volume of personal injury cases, which means our lawyers can spread the risk of the possibility of an unacceptable outcome at trial. Clients have just one case, so their risk calculus is very different. An added force of inertia for high-low agreements that makes the numbers more reasonable for injury victims is that insurance companies want to limit the possibility of a verdict exceeding the policy limits. Continue reading

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