Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Makes Portner & Shure Better than Other Personal Injury Attorneys in Howard County?

  1. Familiarity with Columbia and the surrounding area. We opened in Ellicott City eighteen years ago, and now have our main office in Columbia. Since that time we have settled or tried over 15,000 personal injury cases, many for Howard County clients. We know how to best handle a Howard County accident case just by shear experience. Our verdicts and settlements in Howard County reveal that we can recover fair compensation from every insurance carrier including Allstate, MAIF, and GEICO. Further, the Howard County criminal defense attorneys on staff here at Portner & Shure have been to court with thousands of criminal defendants and have obtained excellent results. I have lived in Ellicott City for over ten years and am active in the community. In addition, half of our staff resides in Columbia or Ellicott City. As a result, we know the tendencies of the citizens who make up juries in Howard County and we know the tendencies of most of the Howard County District Court and Circuit Court Judges. This knowledge is a great asset in Howard County personal injury jury and Howard County criminal cases.

  2. Does Portner & Shure do anything special to help represent the diverse make up of the residents of Howard County?Howard County has an extremely large and active Korean community. Our Korean Department allows our Howard County personal injury law firm to help Korean speaking accident victims and Korean speaking criminal defendants in Ellicott City and Columbia. In order to assist the Spanish speaking population, we currently have a Spanich department, including Elizabeth, Norma, Claudia, Will and Cynthia, to help with Spanish speaking automobile accident victims and Spanish speaking residents charged with DWI or other criminal offenses in Ellicott City and Columbia. Lastly, we have a Chinese department, consisting of Rosanna, Jane and Christine, to help Chinese speaking automobile accident victims and Chinese speaking criminal defendants in Columbia and Ellicott City.

  3. Why Portner & Shure in Howard County?

  • Our foreign departments allow our Howard County law firm to help the diverse population

  • Our Howard County attorneys are always available

  • We have a convenient, main office located in Columbia in Howard County

  • Our Howard County attorneys have experience in Howard County from working and living here for approximately eighteen years.

  • Our track record of great results

  • We are respected by every insurance company

Top Ten Defenses to Maryland Personal Injury Claims

  1. Liability - Many Maryland auto accident cases involve a dispute over who is at fault. In a simple rear end collision, liability is often accepted when the claim is filed. If the accident involves a lane change, sudden stop, multiple impacts or two different accounts of the accident with no police report or witness, the automobile insurance company often denies liability(almost always if the carrier is Geico or MAIF). These claims end up in court where an experienced personal injury attorney has the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the other driver was at fault. The term preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not. In other words, the fate of your accident recovery often depends on the experience of the trial lawyer you retained. A "Trial Lawyer" is someone you need to hire when you first call an attorney, not just a Maryland accident lawyer. Portner & Shure's attorneys are trial attorneys and our website reflects many of the injury awards we have received in court, not just by settling.

  2. Contributory Negligence - Maryland's contributory negligence doctrine is cut throat and can be a complete bar to an injured victim's recovery. Maryland personal injury attorneys often struggle to help clients because of this all or nothing rule. Under contributory negligence, the accident victim's failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care and caution, no matter how slight, is an absolute bar to recovery. If the defendant's lawyer can convince a jury that the victim was only 1% at fault, that individual will not recover any damages. Maryland personal injury lawyers have been struggling against the doctrine of contributory negligence since it was adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1847. In 1868, accident victims received some reprieve when the Court of Appeals adopted the last clear chance doctrine. The last clear chance doctrine allows recovery by an accident victim, who would other wise be barred from recovery due to contributory negligence, if the defendant had the last chance to avoid the accident. Many Maryland accident attorneys do not understand how this rule works. As a result, you must hire an experienced injury lawyer who can overcome this rule.

  3. Low Property Damage - Some automobile accident claims, where liability is not disputed, don't settle. One of the main reasons these cases fail to settle is because insurance adjusters refuse to offer fair settlements in accidents where the property damage to the injured victim's vehicle amounts to less than $1,000. Insurance companies often argue, in these cases, that the medical treatment received by the injured party was not warranted considering the low impact and that the injuries suffered could not have resulted from a minor accident. The adjusters' low impact argument often fails in court. There are several arguments that can be made on behalf of a plaintiff by an experienced Maryland accident lawyer. First, large accidents with significant property damage can result in little or no injuries to those involved, while minor accidents often result in serious injuries. Second, especially in rear end collisions, the injured victim does not have a chance to brace for impact. Third, sometimes the types of vehicles involved can explain the extent of the property damage. Forth, the evaluation of the accident victim's injuries and treatment is done by medical professionals who, absent evidence to the contrary, give medical treatment that is fair and reasonable and medically necessary. In almost every district court in Maryland, Portner & Shure trial attorneys have prevailed in low impact accidents.

  4. Preexisting Injury or Underlying Condition - In many personal injury cases, the injured victim may have a preexisting injury or underlying condition. In these personal injury cases, insurance companies' attorneys will argue that the individual was already injured, experiencing symptoms before the accident and that the injury was not caused by the accident. When a plaintiff has a preexisting injury, an experienced Maryland accident attorney can use medical records to show that the plaintiff was fully recovered from the accident and released from treatment. Further, the personal injury attorney can argue that the plaintiff was asymptomatic before the current accident or that the preexisting injury was made worse by the accident. If the injured accident victim has a preexisting injury, such as a degenerative back condition, the fact that the condition was exacerbated or that there was a predisposition for an injury could explain why the accident resulted in significant injury. This argument is based off of the "Egg Shell Theory" which dictates that the condition of the victim prior to the accident does not mitigate the liability of the negligent party for the injuries resulting from the accident. In other words, "you take the victim as you find them".

  5. (a) Causally Related - Sometimes insurance companies and there lawyers will argue that the injuries are not causally related to the accident, and that there is no reasonable connection between the accident and the alleged injuries. For example, if an individual is involved in an automobile accident and claims that, as a result, he or she had an appendix removed there is a strong argument against that claim. However, if a person is involved in an accident, which leads to a panic attack and an overnight stay in a hospital, there is a strong argument to be made that the condition was caused or exacerbated because of another person's negligence. Again, the Maryland personal injury attorneys have to prove by, a preponderance of the evidence, that the injury was caused by the accident, which means that the injury was more likely than not caused by the accident.
  6. (b) Medically Necessary - This defense is often used when an injury victim pursues alternative healthcare such as acupuncture, acupressure and aquatic therapy. Insurance companies and there attorneys argue that this treatment is not legitimate. At trial, defense attorneys will often make a pretrial objection to any type of acupuncture treatment. The Maryland attorneys at Portner & Shure represent many Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese accident victims. Our Maryland accident attorneys defeat the objections of defense attorneys. Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine and to argue that an injury victim does not have an option to be treated by an acupuncturists is rarely successful at trial. In Maryland accident cases that involve more serious injuries, defense attorneys often argue that invasive procedures such as surgery and epidural steroid injections are not medically necessary. This argument is easily overcome by the expert testimony of a treating physician.
  7. Assumption of the Risk - The concept of "assumption of the risk" is fairly basic. For example, bee keepers assume the risk of being stung and rock climbers assume the risk of falling to their death. Simply put, a person who engages in risky activities cannot complain when the result is injury or death. The legal concept of "assumption of the risk" is based on the same principle, but does require a more detailed explanation. In Maryland, a person assumes the risk if that individual voluntarily engages a particular action or inaction known to that person to be inherently dangerous. If that particular action or inaction leads to an accident which results in injury, there can be no claim of negligence. For example, if a person is having a particularly good time and decides to dance on top of the bar, that individual cannot claim negligence if he or she slips on a spilled drink and falls. Assumption of the risk is a favorite argument of defense lawyers in Maryland, however, it is seldom applicable in auto accident, malpractice and product liability cases. The assumption of the risk defense is often utilized successfully in Maryland slip and fall cases.

  8. Subsequent Accident or Injury - If an accident victim is involved in a subsequent accident the insurance companies and their attorneys can argue that the subsequent accident superceded the prior accident. An experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer can overcome this defense by examining the medical records. If the plaintiff's complaints were resolved before the subsequent accident then the defense is without merit. In cases where the subsequent accident was minor and there was little to no treatment, the personal injury attorney can argue that the subsequent accident was merely a blip on the radar and did not impact the more serious injuries resulting from the prior accident.

  9. Gaps in Treatment - Too often Maryland accident victims wait several days before they are seen by a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor. The longer the gap between the accident and the initial medical evaluation and treatment the stronger the argument that the accident victim did not require treatment. Defense attorneys like to argue that because an accident victim didn't immediately go to the hospital or doctor that the plaintiff's complaints lose credibility. Experienced Maryland personal injury attorneys should know that, in many cases, symptoms such as pain and stiffness do not manifest until a few days after the accident. Once an initial evaluation is done, gaps between treatment can be damaging to a personal injury claim. Most treatment plans follow a schedule prescribed by a medical professional designed to reach optimal recovery. Deviation from the treatment plan should be avoided. A defense attorney, who is presented with gaps ranging from a week to a month between treatment dates, has a very strong argument against the plaintiff's claims.

  10. Fair and Reasonable - This is a term based off of community standards. This argument is often used when an injury victim double treats with two chiropractors and neither of the chiropractors knows. Defense attorneys will argue that an injury victim over treated and that the length of treatment was too long. In some cases, an injury victim may get MRI's of parts of the body that weren't injured in the accident. Sometimes healthcare providers over charge or over treat. When this unfair practice occurs the healthcare provider actually comes under attack and those bills may be nullified by the court's determination. The basic rule to follow in order to avoid this defense is to treat until your injuries are resolved.

  11. Poor Witness - The insurance company will often contend the accident case is worthless because the plaintiff does not present well, or is a poor witness. In these instances the carrier must be pressed to give the exact reason for this contention. Often adequate trial preparation can overcome this issue. Further, the issue may be raised due to prejudice or language barriers. Some adjusters hear a foreign accent, whether Spanish, Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese, and immediately offer less. At Portner & Shure we have experience in Maryland courts litigating cases including Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese speaking accident victims. Our Verdicts have never suffered because one of our plaintiffs is non-English speaking.


U.S. Department of Transportation Increases Mandatory Truck Driver Rest Time

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a final rule that employs the latest research in driver fatigue to make sure Maryland and Virginia truck drivers can get the rest they need to operate safely when on the road. The new rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revises the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers.

"Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely."

As part of the HOS rulemaking process, FMCSA held six public listening sessions across the country and encouraged safety advocates, drivers, truck company owners, law enforcement and the public to share their input on HOS requirements. The listening sessions were live webcast on the FMCSA Web site, allowing a broad cross-section of individuals to participate in the development of this safety-critical rule.

"This final rule is the culmination of the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency's history," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer."

FMCSA's new HOS final rule reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a Maryland or Virginia truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, Maryland and Virginia truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS final rule limits a driver's work week to 70 hours.

In addition, Maryland and Virginia truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window.

The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit. FMCSA will continue to conduct data analysis and research to further examine any risks associated with the 11 hours of driving time.

The rule requires Maryland and Virginia truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights' rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most - from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule's "34-hour restart" provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.

Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Maryland and Virginia trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense. Commercial truck drivers and companies must comply with the HOS final rule by July 1, 2013.

A Maryland or Virginia truck driver or company who violates this rule is negligent. Driver fatigue is often the cause of serious truck accidents which result in severe injuries. If you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident or tractor trailer crash in Maryland or Virginia contact the Maryland truck accident attorneys and Virginia tractor trailer lawyers at Portner & Shure.

Howard County Automobile Accident Attorney

If you are involved in an automobile accident in Howard County, you need access to an attorney who knows the local courts and has considerable past personal injury experience. You need to be assured that when you hire your Howard County personal injury law firm, you are in competent, experienced and qualified hands. In your search for the right Howard County accident attorney, your research will have been a success if you call attorney, Jon Portner, Richard Shure, Kevin Ruby or Nick Parr at Portner & Shure.

The auto accident Team at Portner & Shure understands that the best auto accident case results aren't just earned in the courtroom. In order to succeed, a proper investigation must be conducted in the early stages of the process including a thorough case review and discovery. Our personal injury legal team has a desire to win and does not back down to the Howard County insurance defense attorneys, unlike some other personal injury law firms in Howard County. We prepare extensively for automobile accident cases and treat these cases with the utmost importance. A strong desire to win and exceptional preparation have enabled us to obtain an excellent track record in the Howard County District Court and the Howard County Circuit Court.

Our reputation in Howard County places us at or near the top among our peers in both settling and trying auto accident cases. A respectable personal injury litigation firm must excel at both. Combined Mr. Portner and Mr. Shure have negotiated and/or tried thousands of automobile accident cases throughout Maryland. Mr. Portner has considerable experience and a proven track record in Howard County District and Circuit Court.

In an attempt to be the best automobile accident attorneys in Howard County, the personal injury team at Portner & Shure constantly works to improve their knowledge in the personal injury arena and educates others. In this regard, Mr. Portner and Mr. Parr have researched and written numerous blogs concerning case values, tendencies of insurance companies, jurisdictional analysis, and litigation strategy.

The passion of that our automobile accident trial team displays in and out of the courtroom, as well as our advocacy experience and belief in our clients, has enabled us to convince judges, juries, and even insurance companies' attorneys to see the case from our prospective. Call Portner & Shure for your Howard County automobile accident representation, and experience our winning team's passion, experience and talent. Portner & Shure handles Howard County automobile accident cases throughout the county including, Columbia, Ellicott City, Clarksville, Fulton, Laurel, Glenelg, Jessup, and Sykesville.