April 2009 Archives

Bay Bridge Accident Lawsuit

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The victims and families of the victims in a car accident on the Bay Bridge have filed a lawsuit against the the state of Maryland and several other drivers. The lawsuit alleges the Maryland Transit Administration was negligent because it knew that similar accidents had happened before on the Bay Bridge but failed to address the safety risks.

Under Maryland law, this claim is capped at $200,000 per person.  Think about that: if the state of Maryland kills someone, their obligation is $200,000.  It is an old and outdated law and the Maryland Tort Claims Act should be changed. 

You can read the Baltimore Sun article here.
It is almost invariably impossible to settle a case with the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund for fair value.  MAIF claims adjusters simply do not offer fair value on cases before a lawsuit is filed.

While MAIF is Maryland's eighth-largest auto insurance carrier, with 3.1% of the market share, it carries insurance for some of the worst drivers in Maryland.  Accordingly, MAIF drivers are at-fault in a large number of accidents.

If you have a MAIF insurance claim, call 800-553-8082.

Can Lawyers Charge a Contingency Fee for Recovery of PIP?

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There is confusion among Maryland auto accident lawyers as to whether it is permissible for accident lawyers in Maryland to charge a contingent fee for collecting a claim against his client's own auto insurance carrier under the Personal Injury Protection ("PIP") coverage when the accident lawyer has been engaged to a contingent fee basis to handle the client's accident claim.  

In spite of the confusion, the answer is clear.  Contingent fees are permissible only when they are reasonable under all the circumstances, including such relevant factors as the "risk and uncertainty,"  according to the Maryland State Bar Association Committee on Ethics.

I agree with the outcome but disagree with the logic.  PIP claims are not always slam dunk.  They sometimes take real work.   There is risk and uncertainty as to whether PIP is recoverable.  

But our approach  is not charging a fee for PIP of any kind. The Committee on Ethics says accident attorneys handling personal injury matters may charge for PIP on an hourly basis.  But smart auto accident lawyers in Maryland do not nickel and dime their clients by charging them to handle their PIP claim.   

Miller & Zois does not charge clients any fee or expense for process their PIP claim.  We do it free of charge as a service to our clients.

Baltimore City Accident Case Affirmed

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The Maryland high court let stand a jury verdict where a Baltimore city judge did not apply the Boulevard Rule as a matter of law in a case where the defendant claimed he pulled out in traffic because he could not see.  

Better law: Maryland drivers have to see what there is to be seen.  If you can't proceed safely, don't pull out.  The court's point of it all this is that it what do you do if you are a driver and can't see.  But, realistically, is that ever the case?  Unless the other driver is driving about a zillion miles an hour, you should be able to pull out. Did he beep his horn and flash his lights while he was pulling out?  If you pull out on another driver who is legally proceeding down the road and you cause and auto accident, you should be responsible.  Maryland law is now hedging on this very fundamental principal. 

Still, I think the interpretation of this case should be limited to inching out cases and not to every single application of the Boulevard Rule in Maryland although you can bet Maryland car accident lawyers for defendants are going to pull this case out in every right-of-way case.