May 22, 2009

Montgomery County, Maryland Budget Approved

Well, yesterday the Montgomery County Council approved the budget. Impacted by the recession, the County Budget includes steep cuts in programs for young children including teenagers, it eliminated cost of living raises for Montgomery County employees, and it eliminated programs that helped the elderly. The County Council rejected County Executive Ike Leggett's recommendation that they impose an ambulance fee to make up for budget shortfalls. I think the ambulance fee is a really bad idea because it will cause those suffering from accidents and emergency medical conditions to decide not to call 911 because they do not want to incur the silly ambulance fee. The ambulance transport fee would have raised about $14 million dollars if passed. The Council restored Montgomery County Bus Service on Ride-On Busses for 18 routes that had previously been closed. To accomplish this, parking prices will be increased in Bethesda, MD from ..75 per hour to $1.00 per hour, and monthly car parking stickers will increase from $95.00 per month to $120.00 per month. The County Council rejected the police department's labor agreement that would have allowed police officers who live outside of Montgomery County, Maryland to drive their cars and automobiles home each night. If you are involved in a car accident with a Montgomery County Police Officer or County Employee, you need to be sure to put the County on notice properly (and this should be done by an attorney). The total amount of the budget for Montgomery County is $4.4 Billion. The vote in the County Council was 7-1 in favor of the new budget. The Prince George's County, MD Council is still struggling with their budget. They plan to cut county jobs by either 55 or 307 depending on which version of their budget passes. The PG County Budget is $2.6 Billion (less than Montgomery County').

May 13, 2009

Washington Beltway Crash Results in Death and an Injury

Kent Chambers of Washington, D.C. was driving on the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) in Prince Georges County Maryland when a P.G. County Sheriff started following him. After the law enforcement officer activated his lights, the driver veered off the roadway and struck a guardrail near Route 214, the car overturned and came to rest in the median. The Sergeant in the police cruiser was Shawn Davenport. Unfortunately, Mr. Chambers was ejected from the motor vehicle and suffered serious injuries. His passenger died as a result of this Maryland car crash. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the passenger who died as a result of this incident. The family of those injured and killed in this terrible car accident should be sure that a proper investigation is conducted. It is a good idea for them to hire their own investigative team and possibly even their own accident reconstructionist to determine if proper police procedures were followed in this pursuit. The Washington Post reports that Sergeant Davenport activated his lights and siren but that he did not initiate a pursuit. Frankly, this explanation does not make sense and is a bit troubling. Legal claims against the police and State authorities can be tricky and complicated in Maryland because of the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. The proper officials need to be put on statutory notice within a short period of time or else the legal claims will be barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. These issues can get complicated--especially when it is not clear at the outset whether the proper entity to get notice is the State of Maryland, or a County or an Municipality. The Maryland Tort Claims Act and the Local Government Tort Claims Act come into play. Families of those injured by State Officials need to hire an attorney to assist them shortly after a crash occurs to be sure that the proper authorities are put on notice in a timely fashion. The March 31, 12009 case of Halloran v. Montgomery County Department of Public Works provides an example of the difficulties that can arise in handling cases against government officials. The Court of Special Appeals basically held that despite the fact that the claimant tried to notify the proper officials within 6 days of the accident (without an attorney), she did not do it properly as the law requires, and therefore, her claim was thrown out. In affirming the dismissal of her legal case, The Court of Special Appeals (Judge Woodward who is from Montgomery County, Maryland) explained that:

"We construe this argument to be that Halloran demonstrated good cause based on the factor of "excusable neglect or mistake" under Wilbon. We see no merit in this argument.Within a few days of her injury Halloran identified the County agency responsible for roadway repairs (DPWT) and wrote to that entity demanding that they repair the roadway.Halloran made no tort claim in her October 22 letter to DPWT. When DPWT responded thatit had repaired the roadway, and made no mention of a potential claim, Halloran made nofurther efforts to indicate that she had a claim against the County. Instead, Halloran sent notice of her tort claim to the State and had her counsel send a similar notice to WashingtonGas, both within the 180 day notice period. A similar notice, however, was not sent to theCounty until almost three months after the expiration of the notice period. Halloran failed to articulate before the circuit court or this Court any basis for failing to send proper noticeto the County within the requisite time period. The circuit court clearly demonstrated that it understood the law and properly applied the law to the facts of this case. Therefore, we conclude that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion."

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an car accident, our Maryland auto accident attorneys can help. We charge no fee if there is no recovery and we advance the costs to investigate the car accident. Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester can be reached at 301-589-2999 x102 and our Website is at www.gfmlawllc.com.

May 7, 2009

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to Welcome New Incoming President to the Maryland Association for Justice

Installation for Silver Spring Attorney Kevin I. Goldberg Set for Friday Evening, May 8, at Baltimore's Tremont Grand

Press Release:

Kevin I. Goldberg, a partner at Silver Spring-based law firm Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC, has been named incoming President of the Maryland Association for Justice for 2009-2010. The Maryland Association for Justice was previously named the Maryland Trial Lawyer's Association.

Just 38 years old, Goldberg, will be the second-youngest serving president of the Columbia, MD-based organization, formerly known as the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association. His formal installation takes place this Friday evening, May 8, at the Tremont Grand, 225 N. Charles Street, in Baltimore. Festivities begin at 7:00 p.m., with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley serving as keynote speaker. The youngest president of the Maryland Trial Lawyer's Association was John Sellinger who was age 36 and President in 1989.

According to Goldberg, his selection marks a milestone in his young career. "I look forward to working with my fellow trial lawyers to ensure that citizens throughout the state continue to enjoy unfettered access to both the courts and a civil justice system that provides a viable framework to allow 'the little guy' to stand up to big corporations and insurance companies," Goldberg says. "This concept forms the basic foundation upon which the Maryland Association for Justice is built; and our firm wholly subscribes to the association's overall mission and philosophy."

The Association is also extremely active in numerous public service projects, on which Goldberg expects to play both an active and creative role. "As an organization, we buy and distribute bike helmets to children; purchase and distribute educational supplies for disadvantaged schools; we buy, distribute and install smoke detectors in low income neighborhoods in conjunction with the Baltimore City Fire Department; and we buy turkeys for the hungry at Thanksgiving time," he says. "It's an organization that does a ton of good in the community, and I'm excited about putting my stamp on some of those programs." The Maryland Association for Justice won the Best Public Service Award in 2008 for its Public Awareness Schools Program, which is a program that was spearheaded by Louise Locke, an Officer of the Association.

In previous years, Goldberg founded the Association's New Lawyer's Section, served as Fundraising Chair, served on the Trial Reporter Committee and served as Parliamentarian, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice President.

From 2007 through 2009, he was profiled by Super Lawyers Magazine for his selection among the top five percent of practicing attorneys in a peer review and evaluation process conducted by Law & Politics. He also served as an Associate Editor of The Catholic University Law Review, from where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1996. In 1993, Goldberg received the American Jurisprudence Award for Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure.

In his practice, Goldberg represents seriously injured children and adults in automobile collisions, medical negligence, premises liability, negligent security and general tort litigation.

About Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC: Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC handles medical malpractice and catastrophic injury cases throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. All three name partners (Kevin Goldberg, Kevin Finnegan and Christian Mester) were selected by their peers for inclusion in Maryland Super Lawyers and Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers in 2009. For additional information, visit www.gfmlawllc.com.

About the Maryland Association for Justice: Founded in 1954, The Maryland Association for Justice is dedicated to keeping families safe. The Association helps individuals harmed by the unsafe behavior of others obtain meaningful redress through the civil justice system. The Association zealously guards the right to trial by jury, vigorously advocates on behalf of consumers' legal rights, seeks to advance excellence in trial advocacy through continuing legal education and member services, and is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity. For additional information, visit www.marylandassociationforjustice.com

May 6, 2009

Prince George's County Maryland Fires Under Investigation

An investigation is ongoing into a series of fires in Riverdale, Maryland. The arson probe is looking into whether fires in Prince George's County Maryland were set by the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department. The fires under investigation include those on East West Highway in Riverdale, K Street in Chapel Oaks, Riverdale and Livingston Road in Fort Washington, Maryland. The fires were set between 2/14/09 and March 29, 2009.

Riverdale Mayor Vernon Archer said, "We need to make sure if guys are doing wrong we need to find out but we also need to be confident in the results."

Fox 5 News reports that two firefighters have been suspended as a result of the probe. If you or a family member is injured as a result of a fire in Prince George's County Maryland or Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the lawyers at our law firm can help. We typically hire a cause and origin expert to determine how the fire started and if it was the result of negligence or arson, we can bring a lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County or in Federal Court in Greenbelt. Fire cases are often challenging because it is expensive to hire the required experts to prove the cause of the fire. Experts are also used to determine whether the Fire Code, Life Safety Code or other local ordinances were violated. In Maryland, the violation of a statute is evidence of negligence. If you or a loved one is injured in a fire, call our Maryland personal injury law firm so that we can fight to protect your rights.

April 30, 2009

New Teen Driving Laws Needed in Maryland?

A Captain from the Montgomery County Maryland Police Department tragically lost his teenage son due to a car accident on a country road in rural Maryland at night. Ryan Didone was 15 years old and was a passenger in a motor vehicle that was travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. It is reported that the car he was in was travelling 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. The teenage drive had just recently received his provisional driver's license. Ryan's father, Thomas Didone, is pushing members of Congress to pass the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act (STANDUP). This would make uniform graduated teen driver's license laws across the United States of America. 5,500 teenagers die in car crashes each year, and every single year numerous teens in the State of Maryland die in car accidents. One of the co-sponsors of the bill is U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen.

Parents need to be mindful that if they give their vehicle to an irresponsible teenager to drive, they can be held liable under a negligent entrustment theory of liability. If the parent knew or should of known that the teenager was irresponsible or a bad driver, then a judgment can be obtained against the Maryland parent even if the parent was not in the vehicle at the time of the crash. What is even scarier is that some Maryland insurance policies try to exclude liability coverage for negligent entrustment claims.

April 23, 2009

Single Car Accident in Prince Georges County Maryland kills 3 and Injures a 4th Person

There was a terrible auto accident in Prince George's County, Maryland on Saturday April 18, 2009. The 3 killed in crash are: Michael Jackson who is from Silver Spring, Maryland, Joshua Murden from Bowie, Maryland, Donald Jordan from Rockville, Maryland. A fourth individual was seriously injured- Natash McCallough. They were in a 2001 Lexus that struck a utility pole and a fire hydrant near Muirkirk Road, in Laurel, Maryland. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those killed in this tragic accident. Victims of single car accidents need to be aware of their legal rights, and should act promptly to make sure that evidence is preserved and that appropriate steps are taken so that their legal claims are not jeopardized. A lawyer can be extremely useful in taking care of these issues and the car crash investigation. All too often families of those killed in a crash wait and do not get legal help, and as a result, the insurance companies get a head start on the investigation, get to witnesses first, and sometimes crucial evidence even disappears. In a single car accident, passengers often have at least two claims. The first would be against the driver of the vehicle for negligent operation of the car. The second would be a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under their own automobile insurance policy. Auto insurance policies typically provide uninsured motorist coverage for the named driver in the policy and to resident relatives of the named driver. Therefore, even if the passenger does not own a car himself, he can usually make a valid uninsured motorist claim on auto insurance policies owned by resident relatives. In Maryland a PIP (Personal Injury Protection) Insurance claim can also be made. PIP insurance typically pays $2,500 or $10,000.00 and can be used by the families of those killed to pay for funeral expenses. Do not trust the insurance companies to look out for your rights. They are not on your side. Hire an experienced Maryland auto accident attorney to fight for you and your family and make sure that you get what you deserve. The Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester are experienced trial lawyers. Kevin Goldberg is the President Elect of the Maryland Association for Justice. For more information click here: www.gfmlawllc.com or call 301-589-2999 x102. There is no attorney fee if there is no recovery and our firm advances the costs of the accident investigation.

April 21, 2009

Is there a cap in Maryland for Medical Malpractice Cases?

On April 20, 2009 the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland essentially ruled that Maryland's cap on non-economic damages in medical negligence cases does not exist for cases arising after January 1, 2005. By way of history, Maryland has had a cap on non-economic damages in personal injury cases since 1986. That cap was always codified at 11-108 of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Code. In 2004/2005 the Maryland Legislature called a special session in order to enact tort reform measures with regard to medical malpractice cases to address a purported medical malpractice crisis concocted by the insurance industry. Maryland medical malpractice cases were excluded from Section 11-108, and a separate lower medical malpractice cap was placed in a different spot in the Maryland Code--at 2-3A-09. Judge Debelius's recent ruling in Barbara S. Semsker v. Norman Lockshin, MD held that the newly enacted medical malpractice cap at 2-3A-09 of did not apply to the case because the new medical malpractice cap enacted in 2004/2005 only applied to cases arbitrated before the Health Claims Arbitration Panel (and Judicial Review of those cases). The Court explains "If, as a literal reading would suggest, Section 3-2A-09 does not apply to the case at bar, and verdicts in medical malpractice claims are clearly excluded from the application of the general cap statute at 11-108, then no cap applies to non-economic damages in this case...Simply stated, this court is without authority to amend the statute to reinstate language deleted from a draft version of the legislation, or to insert new words to the same effect, whether consistent with the perceived legislative intent or otherwise"

While this is just a trial court opinion, and it does not yet have precedential value, it is well reasoned and is, in my opinion, likely to be upheld by the Maryland Appellate Courts. Judge Debelius relies upon precedent on statutory construction from the United States Supreme Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals. Caps on damages are a form of tort reform and are unfair because they typically discriminate against women, the poor and the elderly. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

The Maryland Association for Justice issued the following Press Release:

"We applaud the decision of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County limiting the non-economic damage cap in medical negligence cases. The 'one size fits all' nature of the cap resulted in discrimination against women, minorities, the poor and the most seriously injured people in our state. This misguided law padded the profits of insurance companies, and did nothing to lower doctors' premiums or keep patients safer. We are glad balance and accountability has been restored to Maryland."

Today, the Circuit Count for Montgomery County, Md. ruled that the statutory limitation on non-economic damages in medical malpractice actions does not apply to cases filed in Circuit Court except for appeals from arbitration decisions.

Under Maryland law, all medical malpractice actions must begin with the filing of a "statement of claim" with the Health Claims Alternative Dispute Resolution Office ("HCADRO"). After filing, the parties may either arbitrate their claim in the HCADRO or waive arbitration and proceed to the applicable circuit court for a jury trial on the merits.

In 2004, during a special session of the legislature, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that established a cap on non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases that is separate and distinct from the non-economic cap that applies to all other injury actions in Maryland.

Before the Circuit Court, Semsker, et al. v. Lockshin, et al. was a medical malpractice action in which the plaintiff prevailed at trial, winning a jury verdict well in excess of the damage cap. It was argued to the judge that the language of the malpractice cap statute clearly indicated that the damage cap only applies to cases that were arbitrated, and not to cases in which the parties waived arbitration.

After carefully reviewing the language of the statute and applying longstanding Maryland precedents on statutory interpretation, which largely compel the judiciary to defer to the legislature's choice of language when a statute is clear and unambiguous on its face, Judge John W. Debelius, III, agreed with the plaintiff's argument. Moreover, Judge Debelius noted that the legislature had amended the bill prior to its enactment to eliminate broader language that would have made all medical negligence claims subject to the cap. Thus, the judge's interpretation of the statute is consistent with both the express and unequivocal language of the statute enacted by the legislature and the legislative history as reflected by the General Assembly's decision to substitute narrow language regarding the scope of the damage cap in place of broader language.

April 20, 2009

Two Pedestrians Killed after being struck by a SUV in Prince George's County, Maryland

A teenager and a seven year old child were tragically killed at about 9:30 pm last night when they were struck by a car while crossing the street. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those killed. This collision occurred at Central Avenue and Central Way in P.G. County, Maryland. Several individuals were crossing the street when a SUV slammed into them. The SUV was driven by Umair Zaheer Akhtar who lives in Upper Marlboro, MD. The Washington Post reports that this man was cited 3 times in seven months for traffic violations. Mr. Akhtar apparently told the police he could not see the pedestrians until it was too late.

The 19-year old who was struck as a pedestrian and killed has been identified as LaRenta Vondale McFarland. The 7-year old child -Richard Young, II-survived the initial impact and was taken to Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. where the child later passed away. The police are reporting that the pedestrians were not in the crosswalk. The family of those killed should hire a private investigator right away. Police are often wrong when they make an initial assessment of whether a pedestrian was struck in the cross walk or not. It is important to remember that whether those struck were in the crosswalk or not, it does not change the fact that the driver of the SUV was negligent and should not have struck them. Drivers of cars and motor vehicles have a duty to see what is there in the roadway to be seen. Was the driver speeding? Was the driver distracted? Talking on a cell phone? Text Messaging? Unfortunately, when terrible accidents like this happen, the family of those hurt or killed often are grieving and are not focused on legal issues. This allows the insurance companies (and the driver of the SUV) to get a head start on the investigation and develop evidence to protect them. There is also a theory of legal liability called "last clear chance." If the driver was negligent, but if the pedestrians were in fact outside of the crosswalk, if it can be shown that the driver had a fresh opportunity to avoid striking the child and 19-year old, then the driver is still legally responsible for the deaths and the families of those killed would have a valid wrongful death and survival claim to pursue.

It is important that those injured or killed in pedestrian accidents hire an experienced attorney to investigate how the accident happened. It is just too easy to blame this horrible accident on an unproven allegation that Mr. McFarland was not in the crosswalk. An experienced Maryland auto accident attorney can locate and interview witnesses and hire an accident reconstructionist to determine the speed of the vehicle and the exact point of impact. The Maryland lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester are experienced crash lawyers and know how to properly investigate accidents involving catastrophic loss and death. Visit our Website at www.gfmlawllc.com for more information.

April 13, 2009

Auto Accident on Interstate 495 in Virginia Kills Lorton Woman and 6 Injured in a D.C. Crash

On Sunday April 12, 2009 Ms. Ann Unmongkol - Thavong died as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident in Virginia. She was from the 9000 block of Weatherly Way in Lorton, Virginia. She was traveling in a Honda Accord in the westbound lane of Interstate 495 (aka I-495 and/or "Washington Beltway") a freeway that goes around the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area, when her vehicle overturned at about 4:30 in the morning. After her vehicle flipped, she crawled out of her vehicle and sat by her car. She was then tragically struck by a Nissan Versa and was killed in that second collision. The driver of the Nissan was apparently from Charlotte, North Carolina. Police are investigating how this Virginia car accident occurred. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Ms. Unmongkol-Thavong. The person who crashed into her the second time was most likely negligent. The family of Ms. Unmongkol-Thavong should hire a private investigator to gather evidence and make sure that witness statements are obtained. It is also possible that there could be a product liability claim against if her car somehow malfunctioned causing the first crash/flip. In order to pursue a product liability claim in Virginia, it is crucial to preserve the product--the vehicle- and this needs to be done right away. The decedent's family should contact an experienced injury lawyer in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area to help. The Virginia and Maryland attorneys at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester handle Washington D.C., Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland car crash cases and tractor trailer cases.

Another serious car accident occurred in Washington, D.C. last night on the Southwest Freeway. Six people were injured. The vehicle struck a concrete highway divider near the entrance to the third street tunnel. One of those injured was ejected through the windshield. The crash is being investigated by Mike Gottert of the 1st District Police. Those injured in this crash need to hire legal counsel right away. There very well may be claims against the District of Columbia and/or construction companies that built the barrier. For claims against the DC Government, notice must be given in the legally correct form within 180 days of the incident pursuant to 12-309 of the D.C. Code. Failure to dot your I's cross your T's when giving the statutory notice can, and often does, result in the dismissal of legitimate negligence claims against the Washington, D.C. Government. Those injured in this crash need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer, and need to act promptly. The Washington D.C. and Maryland personal injury lawyers at Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester handle personal injury lawsuits and claims and will fight hard to protect the rights of those injured as a result of the negligence of the D.C. Government. Call us at 301-589-2999 x102.

April 7, 2009

Injuries to Track Team Members as a Result of Multiple Vehicle Van Crash in Virginia

11 members of the Hampton, Virginia track team were injured when their van was involved in a motor vehicle collision on Interstate 64 in Virginia which is in the Peninsula Region of Virginia (near Exit 247). The members of the track team were in a van. This Virginia motor vehicle accident is being investigated by Sergeant Scott Edelman of the Virgina State Police. This was a multiple car collision and apparently at least 3 drivers were charged with traffic offenses. Kenneth Briggs of Norfolk, VA was charged with reckless driving (He was apparently driving a delivery truck). Aldrin Gray of Hampton was charged with following too closely. Elizabeth Neher of Falls Church, VA was also charged with following too closely.

This is the kind of accident that can be more complicated than it seems because there may be limited insurance coverage. If those charged were working at the time of the crash, then there may be additional insurance policies that can be triggered based on Respondeat Superior (Agency). Members of the track team may have to look to the automobile insurance policies that they have personally or that people they live with have. If there is inadequate insurance coverage with the at fault parties, then those injured can typically make a "UM Claim" or uninsured motorist claim on their own policy. The statute of limitations for negligence claims in Virginia is 2 years from the date of the accident. Those injured should act promptly to hire an investigator to investigate the cause of this crash, and retain counsel. For more information about Virginia car accident cases, visit our website or call us toll-free at 888-213-8140 x102 for a free telephone consultation. Those injured should know that there has been a lot of accidents involving multiple passenger vans throughout the United States. It is possible that there could be a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the van. If such a claim is going to be pursued, it is crucial that the van be preserved, and that it not be destroyed. Without the van (the defective product) it would be extremely difficult or impossible to succeed in a product liability claim.

April 3, 2009

Pharmaceutical errors in Maryland

Maryland pharmaceutical errors may occur in one out 50 prescriptions but, patients or their families are seldom told about them. You or your loved ones could be one of them. So, please take note. There are such errors happening.

Yet doctors and hospitals do not make it a practice to inform of such errors even when they know about it. Yes, believe it or not, they don't. The main reason is to avoid being blamed for malpractice. Although the Maryland Patient Safety Commission has requested hospitals to notify patients or their immediate families of adverse effects due to pharmaceutical errors, they don't do that very often.

A failure to inform the relevant patients or their families on a timely basis could cause serious implications.

If you or anyone you know is suffering due to pharmaceutical errors, then, find out if the hospital was aware of it beforehand. At Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC, we are very much experienced in dealing with these sorts of cases. Give our Silver Spring Lawyers a call at (888) 213-8140 for free legal advice. And should you want to take legal action, we will be glad to provide the necessary legal counsel and litigation service for a suitable fee.

April 2, 2009

Victims of School Bus and Truck Crash in Garrett County, Maryland Need Be Aware of Claims Act

On Wednesday March 25, 2009 a school bus was involved in a car accident with a truck in Garrett County, Maryland. Numerous students were taken to Garrett Memorial Hospital for medical care, and the driver of the truck involved in the crash was killed. The driver of a Ford Ranger, Robert Biers of Accident, Maryland, t-boned the school bus and unfortunately, was killed in the crash. It is not clear whether Mr. Biers was solely at fault or if the school bus operator was at fault as well. The school bus was driven by Samuel Thomas who is from Accident, Maryland. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those injured in this accident. In terms of Maryland school bus accident legal claims, those injured should know that if they intend to bring a claim against the County or School Board, they must act quickly and put the County on formal notice as per Maryland's Local Tort Claims Act which requires that local governments receive notice within 180 days of the crash. If the State is involved, notice must be given to the State within a year of the crash. It is important to seek legal counsel for cases in which government may be at fault because of the strict notice requirements. If the notice is not proper as per the statute, then the case will be thrown out. This is very unfair and is a trap for the unwary. An example of this can be seen from the recent unfortunate case of Halloran v. Montgomery County in which the Court of Special Appeals threw out the case against Montgomery County because the notice was not properly written and was not delivered to the proper authorities (Opinion 3/31/09 by Judge Woodward). To see the entire opinion, click here. The Court dismissed the case and explained that:

"Although she noted her injuries, she made no allegation that the County was responsible for damages resulting from those injuries. In short, Halloran requested no relief other than that the condition of the road be repaired. Furthermore, the letter was not directed to the proper party under the LGTCA, namely the County Executive. Instead, the letter was addressed to the "Highway Maintenance" division of DPWT. No other entity, particularly the county council, county law office, or "corporate authority," was copied on the letter. In handling the letter, DPWT did not forward Halloran's letter to any of these entities or copy them on DPWT's response. Consequently, the letter failed to inform "the proper officials that [Halloran] [was] pursuing a claim." Bibum, 85 F. Supp. 2d at 564 (emphasis added). Therefore, based on this letter, the County had no reason to, and did not in fact, start "an investigation into a tort claim for damages involv[ing] . . . legal defenses, the nature and extent of the actual injuries sustained, the causal relationship of the injuries to the alleged misconduct, the likelihood of an award of compensatory and/or punitive damages, the necessity and cost of expert testimony, and litigation strategy." Wilbon, 172 Md. App. at 204. Accordingly, Halloran's October 22, 2004 letter to DPWT did not "apprise [the County] of its possible liability at a time when it could conduct its own investigation," Faulk v. Ewing, 371 Md. 284, 298 (2002) (internal quotations omitted), and thus did not substantially comply with the notice provision of the LGTCA."

Our Silver Springs Maryland law firm handles cases against the government, including Garrett County, and would be glad to assist with claims relating to this case meant for a Maryland school bus accident lawyer. If you have a claim against a government, local government or Maryland County or City, it is crucial that you hire an attorney immediately after the accident so that your legal rights can be properly preserved and all necessary notice requirements complied with. For more information, call us at 888-213-8140 x102. Or fill out our contact form.

April 1, 2009

Dog Bite Injury In Maryland

Yesterday a 4 year old boy was attacked by a pit bull named "pimp" in District Heights which is in P.G. County, Maryland. The boy suffered terrible injuries from this Maryland dog bite and may lose his eyesight. Pit Bulls have been heavily regulated in Prince George's County Maryland since 1997. The Prince George's County Code Provides that "The owner shall maintain the dog within a building or a secure kennel at all times. Whenever the dog is removed from the building or kennel it shall be secured by an unbreakable or unseverable leash and maintained under the control of an adult." Many other counties in Maryland have similar code provisions. Animal Control authorities have quarantined the dog, and the boy is being treated for his injuries at John's Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.

Any person who is injured by a dog bite, including a pit bull, has a potential negligence claim against the dog owner. Such claims are often covered under homeowner insurance policies (but some policies exclude this coverage). Our law firm (Kevin Finnegan and Tad Farrington) has handled many pit bull and dog bite cases and we have received large verdicts for dog bite victims. One such case generated a reported opinion in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Even if there is not a code provision on point, a negligence claim can be brought against the owner of the dog. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a dog bite, our Maryland Dog Bite law firm can help. We will conduct a fact investigation (obtain animal control records), determine if the dog had a dangerous past history, and locate insurance coverage that may exist. Call us at 301-589-2999 or contact us via our contact form.

March 31, 2009

Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Injured in Car Accident with Drunk Driver

Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett's county owned vehicle was struck by a drunk driver in Montgomery County, Maryland in Burtonsville. He suffered personal injuries from this Maryland auto accident, and in a recent interview he admits that the recovery has been tough. He missed about 3 weeks of work, and has been on a lot of medications for pain for his back and neck injuries. Mr. Leggett injured his right wrist and hand in the car accident with the drunk driver and now wears a brace. The driver of the other vehicle apparently ran a red light and slammed into the passenger side of Mr. Leggett's SUV.

Since this crash, Mr. Leggett has made a push for tougher DUI laws in the State of Maryland. Unfortunately, in Maryland, punitive damages are not available even against drunk drivers. The Maryland legislature should consider changing this law. If someone drives a car while intoxicated or drunk in Maryland, then a jury should have the option of including punitive damages in the verdict against that person. If you are injured in a car accident by a drunk driver, our Maryland law firm can provide aggressive legal representation to you and your family. We will fight to obtain the maximum settlement from the insurance company and the at fault driver for your injuries.

March 26, 2009

St. Mary's County Maryland Car Accident Resulted in a Fatality

There was another terrible fatal car accident in St. Mary's County, Maryland on Clover Road on March 23, 2009. A Lexington Park lady was killed on Monday. Lindsey Rudolph's vehicle--a Honda Civic- apparently crossed the center line and went onto the wrong side of the roadway, and struck a vehicle-a Ford E-350- driven by Donald Matlock of Mechanicsville. Mr. Matlock apparently suffered serious injuries and is in the hospital as a result of the accident.

Although it is not clear why Ms. Rudolph's vehicle was on the wrong side of the road, Mr. Matlock's family should consider hiring a lawyer to investigate this car crash in Maryland and make a claim against Ms. Lindsey Rudolph's estate if she was in fact at fault. It is always unfortunate when a legal claim needs to be made against a driver who is killed and/or injured in an accident. At this point, we do not know why Ms. Lindsey Rudolph drove onto the wrong side of the roadway. Maybe she suffered a sudden medical emergency? Maybe she fell asleep while driving? Maybe she was distracted while talking on a cell phone and/or sending text messages? Maybe she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol? These issues need to be properly investigated. Mr. Matlock should consider hiring a law firm with the experience and resources to investigate these issues. For more information about maximizing the amount of insurance settlements in car accident and wrongful death cases, you can read the article written by Kevin Goldberg at or the article written by Kevin Finnegan. We provide free consultations. Call us at 301-589-2999 x102 or visit our website at www.gfmlawllc.com.