Belsky Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC A Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Law Firm

October 2009 Archives

Update: Court of Appeals Recalls Waldt Decision

The Court of Appeals of Maryland has recalled its recent decision in University of Maryland Medical Systems v. Waldt, a relatively rare event that signifies temporarily that the Court is not satisfied with some aspect of the opinion. As of this date, therefore, the Court of Appeals' decision is no longer binding precedent and has been removed from publication. The case can no longer be access on the Court's home page.

DETERMINING THE VALUE OF YOUR AUTO ACCIDENT CLAIM

Our clients frequently ask us what they can expect to receive, in either a settlement or at trial, as compensation injuries sustained in an auto accident. This can be a very difficult question to answer, as each case is different. However, an experienced attorney is able to determine a range of compensation, based on a number of factors.

Court of Appeals Rules PIP Benefits Are Primary and Must Be Exhausted Before Health Insurance


An issue that presents itself frequently in personal injury-related motor vehicle accident cases is the coordination of insurance benefits to pay for medical treatment and outstanding medical bills. Many individuals carry Personal Injury Protection insurance as part of their auto insurance coverage. "PIP insurance" as it is known in the industry, affords the insured a certain limited amount of "no fault" benefits (typically $2,500) to pay medical expenses and/or lost wages incurred as a result of the accident. The coverage is "no-fault" because it is available whether or not the insured caused the accident. It is also "no-fault" because payment of PIP benefits has no negative impact on the insured's policy premiums, insurability or renewability.

Alan J. Belsky and Others to Be Honored by Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service has announced that Alan J. Belsky, managing partner of Belsky, Weinberg and Horowitz, LLC, along with nine other lawyers, one law firm, and the United States Bankruptcy Court, will be honored at the MVLS ceremony on October 27th at the University of Maryland School of Law's Westminster Hall. Mr. Belsky is being honored for providing pro bono representation to MVLS clients for ten consecutive years. Since going into private practice, Mr. Belsky has represented over 75 pro bono clients in a variety of legal matters, including age/race discrimination and consumer bankruptcy cases.

Court of Appeals Rules in Another Important Informed Consent Case

The Court of Appeals of Maryland today issued a very important opinion on the issue of an expert's qualifications to testify in a medical malpractice trial. In University of Maryland Medical System v. Waldt,the court ruled that "[a]n expert witness was properly prevented from testifying about the standard of care in a medical malpractice case under § 3-2A-04(b)(4) of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article when the expert devoted annually more than 20 percent of his professional activities to activities that directly involved testimony in personal injury claims. Activities are 'professional activities' when the activity contributes to or advances the profession to which the individual belongs or involves the individual's active participation in that profession. Professional activities include time devoted to testifying and engaging in peer review of journal articles, but do not include time devoted to reading journal articles, observing procedures, discussing patients with other professionals, and attending conferences when those activities are undertaken for personal or leisurely reasons. The question of whether the expert was sufficiently qualified to testify regarding informed consent was not preserved for appellate review because the plaintiff did not make a sufficient proffer on the trial record of what the substance of the expert's testimony would have been. In addition, the trial judge did not err or abuse her discretion then she evaluated the expert's testimony and qualifications in concluded that the expert did not have a sufficient factual basis on which to render an expert opinion on informed consent."

Pennsylvania Jury Awards $2.5 Millions in Paxil Lawsuit

A Phildelphia jury today awarded $2.5 million to the parents of a child born with heart defects as a result of his mother's use of the antidepressant drug, Paxil. The verdict was rendered today against the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. In 2005, the FDA issued warnings to medical providers that Paxil may cause birth defects if used during pregnancy. The parents asked for compensatory and punitive damages. The punitive damages were rejected by the jury. The award represents the cost of the child's past and future health care needs and pain and suffering damages of an uncertain amount. The child has already undergone four heart surgeries and is expected to require one more. For more information on the lawsuit, see the New York Times.

Court of Appeals of Maryland Agrees to Hear Case Challenging Damages Cap

The Court of Appeals of Maryland agreed this week to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of Maryland's cap on noneconomic damages. The case was originally tried before a jury in Anne Arundel County, who awarded more than $4 million to the parents of a child who drowned in a swimming pool at the Crofton Country Club in 2006. The trial judge ruled, however, that there was no evidence supporting the claim that the child suffered conscious pain and suffering before his death. The child's parents took an appeal of that decision, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed, and allowed the pain and suffering damages at a capped amount. The defendant, D.R.D. Pool Service, Inc., requested review by Maryland's top court.

Maryland's Damage Cap for Malpractice Awards is Unfair and Must Be Changed

Did you know that in late 2005, the Maryland General Assembly in response to cries from the insurance industry substantially lowered the cap for noneconomic (pain and suffering) recovery for medical malpractice victims? The amendment is particularly unfair in circumstances where the victim dies from negligent care and leaves two or more surviving beneficiaries holding wrongful death claims. Today, a person who is severally injured or killed in an automobile or slip and fall accident will recover considerably more than will a victim of medical malpractice.

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