Case Law Dispatch: Espina v. Jackson

By Cory Bilton

Case: Espina v. Jackson

  • Court: Maryland Court of Appeals
  • Date of Decision: 3/30/15
  • Appellate Panel: Barbara, Harrell, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, McAuliffe

Facts:

Prince George’s County police officer shot and killed plaintiff. Jury returned $11 million verdict for plaintiff’s family finding officer violated plaintiff’s state constitutional rights, assaulted and battered him, and wrongfully killed him.

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Great Idea: Using Social Media or Online Forums to Warn of Defects and Dangerous Conditions

By Cory Bilton

Memorial Bridge 1

“We didn’t know it was dangerous.” This is the response you will get in almost every case involving a dangerous product or hazardous condition that causes someone to be injured. Whether we are talking about faulty ignition switches, contaminated spinach, or uneven pavement, the initial response is nearly always that the danger was not known. Without knowledge of the danger, there was no way to prevent the harm. So the argument goes.

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Case Law Dispatch: Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications

By Cory Bilton

Case Law Dispatches

With Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland so close in proximity, nearly every personal injury case in our area involves standards and laws from more than one jurisdiction. To help the legal community notice emerging decisions, Case Law Dispatches provide a very brief snapshot of specific appellate decisions that impact personal injury law in the Washington, DC area.

Case: Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications

  • Court: DC Court of Appeals
  • Decision Date: 3/26/15
  • Appellate Panel: Blackburne-Rigsby, McLeese, and King
  • Trial Judge: Cordero

Facts:

Plaintiff was injured after he tripped and fell on uneven pavement around a manhole in the roadway.

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Interview with Appellate Lawyer John Vail

By Cory Bilton

DC Court of Appeals

Last fall, I had the good fortune to meet John Vail.  John’s legal career has covered a lot of territory.  He has managed community legal services programs, testified before Congress on federal procedure, and lectured at esteemed law schools (such as my alma mater, George Washington University).  But for most of this century, John’s practice has focused on motions, appeals, and constitutional issues.  For many trial lawyers, appeals are a rare opportunity.  John was kind enough to allow me to ask him a few questions about appeals, his career, and advice he has for local trial lawyers.

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A Personal Injury Lawyer Walks in His Client’s Shoes: Part 2 – A Doctor’s Visit

By  Cory Bilton

Union Station 1

In mid December, I injured my arm while I slept. I’m sharing my experience getting medical treatment, going to physical therapy, and working to regain function in my left arm and hand. You can read the first part of my experience here.

In the weeks after I injured my left arm, I continued to experience constant pain and discomfort, particularly in my wrist and hand. I Googled my symptoms. Everything I read seemed to point to the idea that I had a pinched ulnar nerve in my left arm. For anyone that has had a pinched nerve, I have great sympathy for you. It has been incredibly uncomfortable for me. For anyone who hasn’t had a pinched nerve, it is painful and annoying. The worst part is that the sensations pulse through your arm. These are not good sensations, either. I frequently felt like my hand was on fire. Then the sensation would cool until it felt like electricity flowing through my arm. Sometimes these sensations came on so quickly my arm would recoil reflexively. In addition to these sensations, I had constant numbness and a “pins and needles” sensation in my pinky and ring finger.

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Will the Supreme Court End Confusion Caused by Empire v. McVeigh?

By Cory Bilton

Supreme Court - 2

While the nation looks to the Supreme Court to take a stand on historic social issues, some personal injury attorneys are hopeful that the Court will take a stand for state laws that protect injury victims from unfair subrogation practices. My interests fall into both categories. For attorneys unaware that an interesting subrogation case is being considered, you should check out the briefs for Aetna v. Kobold or Coventry v. Nevils. The two cases ask the Court to resolve the same issue: do the terms of a FEHBA plan preempt state laws regulating subrogation and reimbursement?

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A Personal Injury Lawyer Walks in His Client’s Shoes – Part 1: The Injury

By Cory Bilton

NH and 20th 3

In mid-December I woke one morning with severe numbness and tingling in my left arm. Initially, I thought the sensations would quickly subside. Within a few minutes of stretching, some feeling had returned to my left arm. But my pinky and ring finger continued to feel completely numb. In the month since this happened, I have had ongoing pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in my left arm and hand. I have recently seen an orthopedist and will undergo diagnostic testing and some occupational therapy in the next few weeks. At this time, my recovery is hopeful, but uncertain.

While my injury was not the result of someone’s negligence, my path to recovery shares something with what many accident victims experience while recovering. I am very fortunate that my injury is slight compared with the injuries of most of the people I have represented. But the sequence of experiences—injury, symptoms, diagnosis, therapy, and ongoing evaluation—is similar.

Although I had some scuffs, scrapes, and bruises as a kid, my injuries were always visible and I recovered in a predictable fashion. But this injury seems different. The problem is completely invisible to me, the symptoms are largely discomfort and dysfunction, and the outlook for recovery is uncertain. These factors make an injury harder to cope with and explain to others. From what I know right now, what has happened to my arm may be permanent.  So there is a psychological impact in addition to a physical one. Because this seems like a useful opportunity for a personal injury lawyer to walk in his client’s shoes, I will share my experience dealing with my injury, medical treatment, and recovery in a series of posts. My hope is that my experience will help advance the discussion on injuries, medical care, and the ways in which people cope and recover.

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There is Only an “Emergency Stop” Button in Google’s Second Generation Driverless Car

By Cory Bilton

Google Driverless Car

In case you haven’t been following along, Google is developing a driverless car. While other groups and researchers are also building autonomous vehicles, Google’s project has created the most buzz by far. Up until recently, Google’s driverless car was a Toyota Prius with various pieces of equipment, sensors and laser radar, mounted on it. Recently, Google unveiled the next generation of its driverless car, pictured above. This version is a specially built vehicle with all of the equipment incorporated right into the car itself. As I’ve blogged before, one of the puzzling questions is what is the legal duty of the occupant of a Google car?

The second-generation Google car has thrown a wrench in the works on this issue: the car has no steering wheel. There is, however, still an “emergency stop” button in this new version of Google car.

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Santa Claus Accidents in the Washington DC Area

By Cory Bilton

Santa's_Portrait_1881

Everything about Santa Claus points to the conclusion that he’s an accident waiting to happen. I’ve only seen him once, about 30 years ago, but I remember he was an older gentleman with poor eyesight. He operates a non-traditional vehicle without proper safety equipment (no headlights, turn signals, or seatbelts). I’m skeptical that Santa has the appropriate operator’s license. His vehicle is pulled by draft animals that are considered wild. He drives at night, when darkness makes it harder to see. From many accounts, his sleigh exceeds weight limits for roadways and rooftops. He drives on roads, front yards, and roofs without regard to traffic regulations or private property. Santa Claus is a danger to public safety.

So you may be wondering, what do you do when Santa Claus negligently injures you or damages your property? Suppose Santa fails to yield the right-of-way to your vehicle, or the weight of his sleigh collapses the roof of your home? What recourse do you have?  Here are some tips for residents of the Washington, DC area when pursuing a claim for personal injury or property damage against Santa Claus.

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