In past years, in lawsuits concerning
vehicle accidents, insurance companies in Maryland were not required to disclose the limit
of a client’s policy to other parties. In 2011, the state legislature
changed this by passing a law that required insurance providers to divulge
an insured client’s coverage. In order gain the information, the
claimant must have owed at least $12,500 in medical bills before making
the request. Senate Bill 146, which went into effect on October 1st, eliminated these last major hurdles, making it significantly easier for
claimants and their attorneys to access the insurance coverage of opposing
parties. All that is required is that the request be reasonable.
In order to obtain information about insurance policy limits, a claimant
seeking compensation after a vehicle accident must make a
reasonable request to the other party. This necessitates first filing a written tort claim
and submitting documentation that includes the following information:
- The date of the vehicle accident;
- The name and last known address of the defendant;
- A copy of the vehicle accident report;
- The insurer’s claim number;
- The claimant’s health care bills and documentation of the claimant’s
loss of income resulting from the accident; and
- The records of health care treatment for the claimant’s injuries
caused by the accident.
Claims Made on Decedent’s Behalf
Unfortunately, some automobile accidents result in the death of one or
more people. The bereaved family is often left with medical bills, funeral
expenses, and the loss of income. The relatives of the decedent, however,
are not barred from filing a claim or seeking information regarding the
defendant’s insurance policy. If the claim is being made on
behalf of a decedent, the individual must submit, in addition to the above documentation, the
- A copy of the decedent’s death certificate;
- A copy of the letters of administration issued to appoint the personal
representative of the decedent’s estate;
- The names of each of the known beneficiaries of the decedent;
- The relationship to the decedent of each known beneficiary;
- The amount of economic damages claimed by each beneficiary, including any
amount based on future loss of earnings; and
- Documentation of the decedent’s past loss of income resulting from
the vehicle accident.
Production of Policy Details
Once these requirements have been met, the insurer must disclose in writing
any applicable limits of the coverage under which the insurance provider
may be liable:
- To satisfy all or part of the claim; or
- to indemnify or reimburse payments made to satisfy the claim.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
If you have been injured in an accident and have questions about your potential
recovery, please contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro. Our Charles
County, Maryland, personal injury attorneys have extensive experience
representing clients who have been injured as a result of the negligence
of others in Waldorf, St Charles, Clinton, Charles County, St Mary's
County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland. For a free consultation, please
call us at 301-705-5253 today.
Admissibility of Expert Testimony in Personal Injury Cases
When, because of a property owner’s negligence, a person
slips and falls on another’s property, the injured person can seek a monetary recovery
to compensate for medical expenses. When a court is determining liability
in such instances, expert testimony can be an important factor in apportioning
recent decision issued by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the law in regards
to the weight and admissibility of expert evidence in slip-and-fall cases.
Sorrels v. NCL
In 2012 Ms. Sorrels, a passenger on the cruise ship
Norwegian Sky, slipped on the pool deck and fractured her wrist. In charging the cruise
line with negligence, Ms. Sorrels attempted to present expert testimony
concerning the slip resistance of the ship’s pool deck.
In Maryland, to prove that a defendant was negligent, the plaintiff must
• The defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff from a slip and fall;
• The defendant breached that duty;
• The breach actually and proximately caused the plaintiff’s
• The plaintiff suffered actual harm.
In slip-and-fall cases, plaintiffs often establish the breach and duty
elements of their negligence claims by using expert testimony. To this
end, Ms. Sorrels had Dr. Ronald Zollo, a civil engineer, conduct a test
on the ship’s surface coefficient of friction (COF), or degree of
slip resistance. The test took place around 520 days after the accident
and was performed after a rainfall. The expert’s results indicated
an average COF of 0.45, which he stated was below the minimum standard of 0.50.
After hearing the evidence, the district court ruled that although Dr.
Zollo was qualified to testify as an expert, his opinions were not based
on reliable methods. As a result, all Dr. Zollo’s testimony was
stricken and was not admitted at trial.
Admissibility of Expert Testimony
A court will look at the following
factors when determining whether expert testimony is admissible:
• The expert’s qualifications;
• The reliability of the testimony; and
• The extent to which the testimony will be helpful to the trier of fact.
Because the district court acknowledged that Dr. Zollo was a qualified
expert, and that it is common practice for experts to testify in slip-and-fall
cases, the reviewing court limited its analysis to the reliability of
Dr. Zollo’s opinions.
Upon review, the Court of Appeals dismissed the lower court’s argument
that the length of time between the accident and the test made the expert’s
testimony unreliable. Because the condition of the pool deck was substantially
similar to its condition at the time of the accident and because a representative
of the cruise line had testified that the deck had not been changed, the
evidence was sufficient to allow admission. Furthermore, the defendant’s
own expert performed the same test on the same day, using the same measuring
equipment. The court also pointed out that a delayed test goes to the
weight of the evidence, not its admissibility, because cross examination
and the presentation of contrary evidence will weed out any unreliable
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers
If you have been injured on someone else’s property and believe that
they were responsible for your injuries, a slip-and-fall action may be
appropriate. Please contact the experienced
Charles County, Maryland personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Robert R. Castro for a free consultation.