Friday, January 30, 2015

More and More Police Cars Equipped with License Plate Readers in Maryland


            Ever wonder what those boxes on the trunks of police cars are in Maryland?  A few years ago, Maryland police cars began installing license plate readers (LPRs) on the trunks of their cars.  There are cameras inside these boxes that scan and photograph the license plates of passing cars or parked cars.  An alarm will sound for the police officer if a violator is detected by checking vehicle registration records, warrants, and the criminal database.  The LPRs can “scan 1,800 plates a minute—on cars going as fast as 150 mph.” 

            Today, more and more police cars in Maryland are using this technology to track down people with suspended driver’s licenses, expired tags, several unpaid parking tickets, outstanding warrants, and more serious criminal offenses.  The LPRs are well-liked by police because they make their job much easier and have led to several traffic citations and the arrests of several violent criminals.

            With this new technology becoming more prominent in Maryland, drivers cannot just slow down and drive the speed limit, thinking they can hide from police because the LPRs will scan their plates and alert an officer of a suspended license or expired registration.  Maryland drivers can no longer conceal their traffic violations because LPRs will find them and alert police officers.  There is even more incentive now for drivers to keep their vehicle registration current, their driver’s licenses current, and to pay their parking tickets on time.

            Portner & Shure has substantial experience defending clients against serious traffic offenses, as well as representing clients in MVA administrative hearings when a driver’s license is suspended.  If you or a family member have been ticketed or arrested for a Maryland traffic offense, call us today for a free consultation at (301) 854-9000 or visit us online at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Criminal-Defense/

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Report Lists 9 Vehicle Models with 0 Highway Deaths


         The number of deaths occurring in automobile accidents on highways has decreased significantly in the last several years.  The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) just published their report for the 2011 model-year of cars.  A “record total” of nine models sold in 2011 have had a death rate of zero, meaning nobody died in a crash while in those vehicles.  The main reasons for fewer car accident deaths are due to improved vehicle design and safety technology that prevents or minimizes the severity of accidents.  These nine vehicles include:

·         Audi A4 4WD

·         Kia Sorento 2WD

·         Honda Odyssey

·         Lexus RX350 4WD

·         Suburu Legacy 4WD

·         Mercedes Benz GL-Class 4WD

·         Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD

·         Toyota Sequioa 4WD

·         Volvo XC90 4WD

    The IIHS predicted that if automakers had not drastically improved vehicle safety over the last several years, there would have been “7,700 more fatalities in just the year 2012.”  Another reason that can be attributed to fewer highway accident deaths is the implementation of a new “small offset crash test.”  This test replicates “what happens when two cars clip one another going in opposite directions.”  Some of the new safety technology built into cars such as lane departure warnings, blind spot detection systems, and forward collision warning are working to prevent serious deadly accidents.  In fact, Volvo has said their goal is to have zero deaths in all of their vehicles by 2020.

            Some of the worst vehicles for accident deaths include the Kia Rio, with 149 deaths per million registered vehicle miles, and the Nissan Versa, with 130 deaths per million registered vehicle miles.  A majority of the vehicles with the most death are compact and subcompact cars.

If you or a family member has been injured or killed in an automobile accident, contact Portner & Shure for a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on car accidents at (301) 854-9000 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Auto-Accidents/Car-Accidents/  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Maryland Worker Receives $2.5 Million Settlement for Permanent Injury


            A Caroline County man was left permanently disabled in a rail yard accident in 2009 while working for the Maryland & Delaware Railroad Company.  A wrench he was using “exploded” in his hands, which caused him to fall and injure his back.  The injury to his back resulted in him not being able to move his legs.  The worker, Michael A. Blades, required a “spinal stimulator implanted as a result of the fall” and he can no longer work.  The metal making up the wrench was “breaking down” and “bowed or U-shaped” instead of straight.  Blades had asked his general manager for help and to see if he could use a newer wrench, but the manager declined. 

After Blades suffered his injury, the general manager put the wrench back together and had a “younger and more able-bodied” worker finish the job.  However, the wrench broke again, but no one was injured.  Blades worked for the company for another year after the accident before being fired and losing his medical coverage. 

All parties involved agreed to mediation where both sides came to an agreement on a $2.5 million settlement.  Blades’ attorneys successfully argued that the company was at fault for forcing a handicapped man to do physical labor beyond his capability and with a defective wrench.

Railroad workers are not covered by workers’ compensation laws.  Instead, they are covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which compensates railroad workers who are injured on the job and cannot return to work.

If you or someone you love has sustained a work injury in Maryland, or would like more information on workers compensation, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free consultation or visit us online at: http://www.portnerandshure.com/Workers-Compensation/Permanent-Total-Disability.shtml 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Silver Spring Workers’ Compensation Construction Injuries


           In the last three years, there have been relatively few workers’ compensation claims resulting from construction accidents compared to the top three industries for workers’ compensation injuries.  In 2014, there were 683 filed claims from the general construction industry.  Compare that to a combined total of 5,518 for the top three most dangerous industries in terms of filed claims.  There were a total of 58 fatalities in 2014 as a result of workplace industries, with 7 coming from the construction industry.  Baltimore County, Baltimore City, and Prince George’s County led the way in the number of claims filed in 2014.

            Construction workers are subject to some of the most serious injuries due to the dangerous mature of the job sites.  Construction companies often take extra precautions by implementing safety regulations and training employees in safety.  Sometimes the heavy machinery and construction tools result in a worker getting injured.

            The most common injuries in the construction industry result from faulty equipment, chemical leaks, scaffolding accidents, falling off ladders, crane malfunctions, forklift accidents, and explosions.  If a worker is injured on the job, they immediately need to seek medical attention.  Once their injuries have been attended to, the worker must notify the employer in order to start the workers’ compensation claim process.  The types of benefits you could receive depend on the severity of the injury and how long until the worker is able to perform their work duties again.  Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Act includes benefits for temporary and permanent injuries, as well as total and partial disabilities.  Due to the dangerous nature of construction sites, injuries usually result in permanent impairment, such as loss of limbs, loss of fingers or toes, or permanent damage to eyes or ears.  It is important that you hire an experienced Maryland workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you can recover all benefits possible so that you can be compensated for your injury.

If you or someone you love has sustained a construction site work injury in Silver Spring, Maryland, or would like more information on workers compensation, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free consultation or visit us online at: http://www.portnerandshure.com/Workers-Compensation/Permanent-Total-Disability.shtml 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Maximizing Recovery for Truck Accident Victims in Silver Spring, Maryland


           Injuries resulting from truck accidents can be devastating.  However, many times injured victims are unable to recover enough money to cover the damages.  It is obvious to look to the negligence of the truck driver and motor carrier as the cause of the accident, but the shipper of the load cannot be forgotten as another possible liable party.  Motor carriers of nonhazardous materials are required to carry only $750,000 in single limit coverage, however, many times injuries sustained in a truck accident far exceed that amount.  Therefore, it is important to seek recovery from all who are involved including the truck driver, the motor carrier, and the shipper of the load.  Keep in mind though, that the shipper will not always be liable in a truck accident, but should always be considered.

            The shipper is the company that hires the motor carrier to haul its goods.  One way to impose liability against a shipper is for negligent selection, which means that an employer can be subject to liability for its failure to exercise reasonable care in selecting a competent and careful contractor.  When liability is being brought against a shipper, courts will look to the type of shipper that was used.  As a result, courts will place a higher duty on a more experienced and prevalent shipper with frequent shipments and large shipments to choose a safe and competent motor carrier to haul its goods.

            Once it is proven that the shipper has a high duty of care to hire competent carriers, it needs to be proven that the carrier was incompetent.  Then, once incompetence has been proven, it must be established that the shipper knew or should have known of the incompetence.  Finally, in order to prevail under negligent selection, it must be proven that the deficient characteristics that rendered the carrier incompetent proximately caused the accident.  This means that if it is established that the carrier has a history of failing to properly maintain its fleet of vehicles and the cause of the accident is due to the driver falling asleep behind the wheel, there is no proximate cause between the incompetence and the cause of the accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor trailer accident or sustained an injury as a result of a truck accident in Silver Spring, and would like more information, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free case evaluation or visit us online at: http://www.portnerandshure.com/Auto-Accidents/Truck-Accidents/

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Maryland Workers’ Compensation Benefits


Here we outline the differences between temporary and permanent benefits, as well as total and partial disability benefits under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act:

1.      Temporary Total Disability Benefits

If an employee’s injury results in the person being completely disabled for all work purposes, the employee may receive temporary total disability benefits.  If this period of disability or “healing” is fourteen days or less, the benefit payments are not allowed for the first three days (except for payments for hospital, nursing, or other medical services).  If the “healing” period is longer than fourteen days, then the compensation is allowed to be paid immediately.
 

2.      Temporary Partial Disability Benefits

These benefits are intended to replace, in part, some of the income being lost during the period of not working.  These benefits may be paid to an employee who is not totally disabled during the recovery period and is still able to perform some work duties at a lower wage.  The employer or its insurer pays the covered employee compensation equaling half of the difference between average weekly wage of employee before injury and the average wage after injury while temporarily disabled.  The average Maryland weekly wage is calculated every year by the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.  Benefits to covered employees can never be less than $50 per week.

3.      Permanent Total Disability Benefits

In Maryland, the loss of any of the following is considered a permanent total disability: both arms, both eyes, both feet, both hands, both legs.  In addition, the loss of any two of the following constitute a permanent total disability: an arm, eye, foot, hand, or leg.

4.      Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

Injuries that result in a permanent impairment, but are not as severe as to leave a worker totally disabled, are covered by permanent partial disability benefits.  Benefit payments for permanent partial disability continue for a certain period of time that is determined by which part of the body is injured.  For example, the loss of a vital body part such as the thumb will result in longer payout periods than the loss of a pinky finger.  Once the period is over, no more payments are made.

If you or someone you love has sustained a work injury in Silver Spring, Maryland, or would like more information on workers compensation, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free consultation or visit us online at: http://www.portnerandshure.com/Workers-Compensation/Permanent-Total-Disability.shtml  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Silver Spring Transit Center to Finally be Completed in May


           Montgomery County’s public transportation is a popular choice, and in some cases an only option, for many Silver Spring residents.  Work on a proposed Silver Spring Transit Center began in 2008 with an expected completion date in 2010.  This new state-of-the-art transit center would service metro lines, MARC commuter trains, taxis, and buses, and would increase bus ridership by 7%.  However, the project ran into some serious problems with construction and design flaws.  The project is now four years behind schedule and $50 million over budget.  Although this new transit center will feature three floors and an organized layout for the various forms of transportation, it is still possible that with increased traffic there will be bus accidents.  Bus accidents often result in serious injuries because there are no seatbelts and buses can easily roll over in high impact crashes.

            The experienced attorneys at Portner & Shure have handled several bus accident cases, including school buses, public buses, and privately chartered buses.  Each type of bus accident has its own challenges, which is why it is crucial that you hire attorneys experienced in the area of bus accidents.  Common causes of bus accidents include: bus driver negligence, bus driver fatigue, failure to stop at a stop sign or traffic light, improper bus maintenance, and dangerous weather conditions.

            In addition, with the construction and design flaws of the new transit center, it is possible that someone could get injured if something is not properly repaired before the building opens.  Portner & Shure also specializes in personal injury cases where another party is at fault or negligent.  In these types of circumstances, our top-rated Silver Spring accident attorneys will investigate to determine if another party is at fault.  If the injury is due to a construction defect, your attorney must determine if the construction company knew of the defect and chose not to fix it, or if they just were not aware of the problem.  You likely have a stronger case if it can be proven that the construction company had knowledge of the defect and refused to repair it. 

            If you or a family member have been injured in a bus accident in Silver Spring, Maryland and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on bus accidents please feel free to contact our office at (301) 854-9000 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Auto-Accidents/Bus-Accidents.shtml

Friday, January 16, 2015

Montgomery County Prosecutors Not Charging Silver Spring Woman Who Killed 13 year old Girl


           Esperanza Vasquez, a 33 year old Silver Spring resident, was learning how to drive in the Eastern Middle School parking lot last July.  Vasquez did not have a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit when she was driving and her car jumped a curb and proceeded down a grassy hill.  Her car hit two bystanders, killing 13 year old Deborah Reyes Casasola and injuring the other woman.  The 13 year old girl was at school watching a soccer game when Vasquez’s car came down the hill and struck her.

            The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office said they did not file criminal charges against Vasquez because her “actions didn’t rise to the level of criminal negligence.”  The State’s Attorney’s Office continued, “moving forward with a motor vehicle manslaughter prosecution would not have been the proper course of action in this case.”  Vasquez will still face traffic charges for negligent driving and driving without a license.  Casasola’s father said in response to hearing this, “She had the right for the law to protect her…the law protected the criminal, not the victim.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or are hit by a car due to the fault of another driver, act now. The insurance companies are already on the case, and your lawyer should be too. Contact us today for a free initial consultation or to learn more about personal injuries and car accidents at (301) 854-9000 or online at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Personal-Injury/ .  While we practice throughout the region, we have in depth knowledge of the different nuances, likes and dislikes, of both prospective jurors and Judges, for cases in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Are you worried that language is an issue?  Our support staff includes paralegals fluent in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Silver Spring Workers’ Compensation Attorney


According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission Annual Report for 2014, which covers injured employees from the Silver Spring area, the top four industries accounting for the most workers’ compensation claims are policemen and security, truckers, colleges or schools (including daycare centers), and hospitals.  In addition, the most prevalent injuries included those to the lower back, shoulders, and knees.  Further, the report showed that 41 people died as a result of their workplace injuries, which is up almost 14% from 2013, but down substantially from three years ago when 57 people died.

Portner & Shure attorneys have represented clients in workers’ compensation cases for more than 20 years.  In addition, our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies, employers and the government with respect to obtaining injury benefits.  When you are in an accident at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits whether you, another employee or your employer is at fault.  Maryland law specifically states that workers’ compensation only covers “accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment.”  If you are in an accident while on the job, you must notify your employer of the problem and seek medical attention if necessary.  In addition, the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission may have to be notified of the injury.

If you or a family member has been injured as a result of an injury at work and would like a free legal consultation, or if you would like more information on workers' compensation, please feel free to contact one of our top rated Silver Spring workers' compensation lawyers at (301) 854-9000 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Workers-Compensation/


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Maryland’s Cap on Damages Challenged by Maryland Family


           In 2008, Manuel Espina was shot by a Prince George’s County police officer and his family sued the county because the officer was a local government employee.  Maryland has a law from the 1980s that limits the amount of money people can receive when suing a local government employee to $200,000 per plaintiff or $500,000 for claims connected to a single incident.  The Espina family is asking Maryland’s highest court to strike down the law because their damage award of $11.5 million was cut down to $400,000.

            Other localities in Maryland, not surprisingly, have taken the side of Prince George’s County, arguing that “ruling in favor of the family could force local governments to pay out millions more when officers are sued for civil rights violations.”  The family’s attorneys and many civil rights groups believe that having a cap on damages will never deter local governments from combatting police brutality.  Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Public Justice Center, and the Caucus of African American Leaders all filed briefs supporting the Espina family.  They believe “that larger penalties are necessary to ensure justice in police brutality cases” and “the cap doesn’t deter officers from repeated misconduct—especially if they escape criminal charges over the accusations.”  The police officer involved here was not prosecuted in the killing and a police trial board acquitted him of administrative charges.

            In Baltimore, the cap has saved taxpayers millions of dollars because since 2011, there have been 102 civil suits alleging police brutality and other misconduct, and yet $5.7 million has still been paid out.  Baltimore City, for example, has argued that “the cap is needed to protect budgets and predict exposure for insurance purposes.”    So while local governments are worrying about their budgets, families of victims of police brutality or other misconduct are limited to a few hundred thousand dollars in damages for their loss, even when juries return multi-million dollar damage awards.  The cap has been challenged and upheld numerous times.  It will certainly be interesting to see if the Maryland Court of Appeals holds its ground and upholds the cap, or if this case is ripe for overturning it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

5 Virginia Family Members Killed in Truck Accident


            While driving on Route 50 early Saturday morning in Wye Mills, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, a family of 5 from Virginia was involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer.  State police said the truck was carrying a 22-ton load and “collided with the car at about 1:15am at Routes 50 and 213.”  Police believe that the tractor-trailer then rolled over the car with the Virginia family, killing everyone inside.  The truck driver was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore.  Police are still investigating the cause of this crash, but do not believe alcohol was involved.

            Truck accidents are common on highways because of increased traffic on the roadways.  This accident occurred on a lesser travelled highway and at a time when few cars are on the road.  Since the cause of the accident is still unknown, it is difficult to determine who was at fault.  In order to obtain large settlements or verdicts in truck accidents, it is necessary that you hire an attorney who knows and fully understands federal and state trucking regulations. The experienced attorneys at Portner & Shure have handled countless commercial truck accident cases resulting in large recoveries.

Some of the most serious truck accidents involve an override collision or an underride collision. An override collision involves a truck driving over an automobile. This type of accident usually occurs when a smaller car follows too closely behind a truck and drives under the truck when it suddenly stops. An underride collision involves a vehicle travelling under the truck where the roof of the car is crushed or stripped.  This accident does not appear to fit in to either of these categories of truck accidents, however, one of the following causes could explain why this accident happened.

Common causes of trucking accidents include:

·         A truck driver’s lack of training

·         Overloaded or oversized trucks

·         Dangerous driving conditions (rain, snow, ice, or fog)

·         Speeding, aggressive or reckless driving

·         Driver fatigue

·         Illegal maneuvers

If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a truck accident, contact Portner & Shure for a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on truck accidents at (410) 995-1515 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Auto-Accidents/Truck-Accidents/ 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dog Attacks and Kills its Owner in Frederick, Maryland


A Frederick, Maryland man, Eugene W. Smith, was taking down his Christmas tree, when all of a sudden his 84-pound pit bull started attacking him.  Mr. Smith rescued the dog back in May and the dog had been living with him, his son, and his son’s fiancĂ© ever since.  When officers arrived to the house, they subdued the dog and Mr. Smith was taken to the hospital.  Unfortunately, the injuries sustained from the attack were too severe and he passed away.  Frederick County animal control officers removed the dog from the home and euthanized it.  In this case, it does not appear that anyone was necessarily at fault, and it was just a very unfortunate situation.

However, if you are the victim of a dog bite in Maryland, you may be entitled to compensation from parties that you may not readily realize. In order to ensure that you are being fully compensated, it is important to contact an experienced dog bite attorney. Below are four potential parties who may be liable for your dog bite:

·         A dog owner is responsible for a dog bite attack if the owner kept a dog which he knew to be dangerous or had previously bitten someone. This rule is known as the “one free bite” rule.

·         A dog keeper is responsible for a dog bite if they had prior knowledge that the dog had previously bit someone, or if the dog keeper knew the dog to be a dangerous dog.

·         A landlord, one who has the right to control the dog’s presence on the premises of where the bite occurred, may be held liable for the injuries of a dog bite if the landlord knew that the dog was a dangerous dog.

·         Landlords of a commercial property, such as a shopping center, may be held liable for a dog bite. If you are on commercial property, the land owner has a duty of reasonable care to keep the premises safe and to protect you from dangerous situation.

If you or a family member have been injured by a dog bite or attack, contact Portner & Shure for a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on dog bites and attacks at (410) 995-1515 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Personal-Injury/Dog-Bites/

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter’s Fury Arrives in Maryland


Yesterday’s 2-5 inches of snow blanketed the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia area and was the first true snow storm to hit the area this season.  While forecasted as a minor clipper system only expected to drop and inch or two, it over-performed and caught drivers and school administrators off guard.  As is the case every year, the first snow also leads to a headache for drivers as many people forget how to drive safely in inclement weather.  Snow and ice covered roads made travel treacherous and a nightmare for many during Tuesday morning’s commute.  Most schools decided to close or delay classes, while some operated on a normal schedule, prompting several complaints from parents.  In Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City, schools opened on time, forcing buses and parents to drive their children to school by braving the dangerous conditions on the roads.  Several accidents were reported across the state, including three Anne Arundel County students being injured on their way to school.

            While the snow has stopped falling, conditions outside are still somewhat hazardous with icy and snow-covered side streets and sidewalks.  Everyone needs to remember to take their time, whether driving or walking, to avoid accidents and injuries.

            Next, our area can expect dangerously cold temperatures and windy conditions to move in for the next few days.  Tonight’s low temperature is forecasted to be in the single digits with a wind chill advisory going into effect due to winds gusting over 40 mph.  Wind chills tonight and tomorrow will be 5-10 degrees below zero for the entire area.  Be safe, bundle up, and avoid spending long periods of time outside.

            If you or a family member has been in a car accident that is the fault of another driver, or would like more information on personal injuries, please call us at (410) 995-1515 for a free consultation or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Personal-Injury/  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Millions of Keurig Machines Recalled for Risk of Burn-Related Injuries

The popularity of Keurig machines has exploded in recent years.  With the holidays just having passed, it is likely several people received a Keurig coffee machine as a present.  Last week, Keurig recalled more than 7 million of its coffee brewing machines after several reports of users getting burned from hot liquids spraying out.  The Keurig Mini Plus machines made between 2009 and 2014 are the only models affected.  There have been 90 reports of burn-related injuries.  Keurig will send a free repair kit to affected machines that will fix the problem.  It is recommended that until the repair is made, stand at least “an arm’s length away from the brewers and [do] not brew more than two cups in quick succession.”  Keurig Mini Plus owners should check for a model number K10 and an identification number starting with “31” on the bottom of their machines.

    There are a variety of safety defects that can affect consumer products and lead to severe injuries for users.  We have the experience and technical resources to analyze your case, answer your questions, and pursue the compensation you deserve.  If you or a family member has been injured from these machines, contact Portner & Shure for a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on personal injury accidents at (410) 995-1515 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Personal-Injury