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Posts tagged ‘Personal Injury’

Legislature acts on dog bite liability – Landlords happy. Dog owners? Not so much.

After several failed attempts in prior legislative sessions to take action against the Court of Appeals holding in the 2012 “pit bull” case of Tracey v. Solesky (for a closer look at the Solesky case, click here), the legislature finally succeeded in passing a new dog bite liability bill law (the governor is expected to sign it) for incidents where a dog causes personal injury or death to a person.  The new law has five key features:

(1) it applies with respect to all dogs, negating the Solesky Court’s determination that pit bulls were inherently more dangerous than other dogs;

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Ethics Opinions Underscore Problems That Medicare Liens Create when Negotiating Settlements

In serious personal injury cases, a common issue arises in settlement talks that affect the course of negotiations – Liens; Specifically, health insurer liens and liens asserted by Medicare.  The problem is simple: a plaintiff with medical expenses often has those expenses paid for by his or her health insurer or through Medicare/Medicaid.  Medicare is entitled under the Medicare Secondary Payor Act to be reimbursed for any payments it has made for causally related medical care, and the health insurer has a subrogation interest in the proceeds it has paid.  The existence of these liens creates difficulty negotiating settlements.  Settlements are often much less than what could be a reasonably expected verdict if the plaintiff prevails, but going to trial involves risk, whereas a settlement eliminates risk.  In addition to the risk of a low plaintiff’s verdict or defense verdict, there are other factors involved in determining a reasonable settlement value, including limitations on the amount of insurance coverage available and the prospects of otherwise recovering a judgment from a defendant.  Because of these factors, the plaintiffs often have to engage in negotiations with the lien holders in order to settle the case because having to pay the full lien amount could negate any potential benefit of accepting a settlement or even continuing with the litigation.  For example, if the reasonable settlement value of a case is $100,000.00, but the plaintiff has liens in the amount of $80,000.00, the plaintiff is in a position where he or she cannot accept the settlement unless the lien holder takes less because the full settlement would otherwise go to the lien holder and the plaintiff’s attorney, leaving plaintiff with no recovery at all.  Given this reality, the plaintiff must often participate in a second negotiation with the lien holder to negotiate the lien down to a level where the lien holder will receive something, but the plaintiff will as well.  In effect, there are two separate negotiations: one between the plaintiff and defendant, and another between the plaintiff and the lien holder. Read more

Football Player’s Estate Sues Fiancee to Get Auto Insurance Proceeds

I read on Profootballtalk.com today that the Estate of former Cincinnati Bengal Wide Receiver Chris Henry has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his ex-fiancee, Loleini Tonga, as a result of the December 16, 2009 automobile accident that took his life.  If you are a football fan like I am, the name Chris Henry will immediately cause you to shake your head: the classic cautionary tale of a young man who had so much promise in life only to be sidetracked time and time again by his personal problems.  Henry was a talented player at West Virginia University, but he was drafted lower than his talent would have dictated because of character concerns relating to both on and off the field conduct.  His career as a Cincinnati Bengal began in 2005 with promise, but was soon derailed by multiple run-ins with the law, which led to multiple NFL-imposed suspensions and his release by the Bengals in early 2008.  After his release, Henry seemed to turn his life around, ultimately being given a second chance by the Bengals to start the 2008 season.  While his 2008 and 2009 statistics were fairly pedestrian, the larger accomplishment was that Henry had stayed out of trouble and seemingly turned a corner in his life. Read more

Maryland Insurers Now Required to Make Pre-Litigation Disclosures of Policy Limits Information to Certain Claimants Involved in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Last spring, Governor O’Malley signed into law new legislation that requires insurers to disclose policy limits information to claimants involved in motor vehicle accidents under certain circumstances prior to litigation being initiated.  It is important to note that the new law only applies to claims involving motor vehicle accidents.  The new law, which is codified in the Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, §§10-1101 through 10-1105, took effect on October 1, 2011, but will only apply prospectively to claims filed with an insurer on or after the effective date of the new law.  Now that the law is in effect, insurers need to be familiar with the new law and understand the circumstances under which they will be obligated to make pre-litigation disclosures.  Read more