Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Maryland Lawmakers Propose Bill to Inform Consumers About Car Defects Sooner

         With news over the last few months of auto recalls due to defective airbags in millions of cars, Maryland lawmakers are trying to fix one of the biggest flaws in the auto industry: secrecy surrounding problems with cars.  The proposed law would “give dealers the protections they need to disclose critical safety information.”  As the system works now, car manufacturers collect information about problems and report them to the federal government.  This bill would make sure consumers know about problems when car makers know instead of years later when recalls are announced.  For example, the infamous maker of faulty airbags, Takata, has said they are willing to pay daily fines instead of revealing documents about the defective airbags.

            A 16 year old Marylander was killed in 2005 in a car accident, and seven years later, the same make and model car she was driving was recalled for problems with its ignition switch.  If this proposed bill was in place at the time, a life could have been saved because this information would have been released to car owners affected by the recall immediately instead of seven years later.  As we continue to move into a period of increased availability of information, it only makes sense for this proposed bill or a similar version to pass.

            Car dealerships receive internal service bulletins that they are not allowed to disclose to the public, and these usually include any problems before reaching recall status.  If this bill passes, dealerships would be able to inform consumers of these problems well before a serious injury or even death occurs.

            Opponents of the bill worry about this being a federal issue instead of a state issue.  Everyone agrees though, consumers deserve to know about problems with their vehicles at the same time manufacturers learn of them; not several years later when it is too late.  Far too many car accident deaths are attributed to defective parts.  They could have been prevented if more information was readily made available to consumers when problems first arose.

If you have purchased a car that has recently been recalled, take it to the dealer to get fixed.  Further, you may be entitled to several legal remedies, including:
  • Economic damages: you may be able to recoup lost value of the car's resale value. You may also be able to recover for loss of use of the car
  • Personal injury recovery: if the defective automobile resulted in physical injuries to you, you may be able to recover for the costs associated with the injury
  • Class action: If the recall has affected enough numbers of consumers, a class action lawsuit might be an available option
  • Manufacturer reimbursement: Some auto manufacturers may voluntarily pay repair bills the defective product caused before the recall.

Sometimes, however, you may need to initiate litigation to be compensated for your financial as well as your physical losses. From SUV rollovers to fuel fed fires and faulty door latches, there are a variety of vehicle safety defects that can lead to severe injuries in a car crash. At Portner & Shure, we have handled these cases for over twenty years. We have the experience and technical resources to analyze your auto accident case, answer your questions, and pursue the compensation you deserve.  Call us today for a free case evaluation at (301) 854-9000 or visit us online at:


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Litigation News: February 2015

             Recently, Portner & Shure attorney Kevin Ruby settled an auto accident case for $90,000 for his client.  Our client was rear ended while driving in Montgomery County, Maryland, resulting in $2000 in property damage to the car.  Our client was driving a small sedan and the defendant was driving a large SUV.  The total cost of medical bills came to $29,000.  In addition, doctors recommended possible future surgery.  Insurance companies often do not consider the cost of potential surgeries.  However, in this case, the carrier considered the surgery cost when making an offer for $90,000 to settle the case.  Mr. Ruby managed to avoid litigation and receive a very favorable award for his client.

Portner & Shure Employee Spotlight: February 2015

           Bartola Flores has worked at Portner & Shure for approximately three years as a Spanish translator and legal assistant.  More than ten years ago, she came to the United States from El Salvador and did not speak any English.  She attended community college and studied business administration while learning English.  Family is something that is very important to Bartola.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her 8 year-old son, Diego.  She also stays busy by playing video games with Diego and taking him to soccer and swimming.

Just recently, she began working with Portner & Shure’s Spanish social media and online marketing departments, in addition to her normal work on various personal injury claims.  She is now transitioning from a legal assistant to our Spanish Marketing Coordinator.  She maintains our auto accident, criminal, and DUI Spanish blogs.  In addition, she produces and edits YouTube videos and tweets on the firm’s Spanish Twitter account.  While you will never see Bartola in any of the videos, just know that she is involved in every video Portner & Shure posts to its YouTube channel.  She will certainly have her hands full with these new roles, but she says that she enjoys everything she takes on at Portner & Shure.  As a result of her hard work, Portner & Shure is currently on the first page of any internet search for a Spanish-speaking accident lawyer in Maryland or Virginia. 

Maryland Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Discuss New Grading System

          A new tougher grading system for nursing homes in Maryland will be starting immediately as the federal government is making it harder for the homes to get “top grades on a public report card.”  There will now be increased scrutiny of the use of anti-psychotic drugs and the bar will be raised on an array of quality measures.  The new grading system will rank nursing homes using one- to five-star ratings that will be available on the government website, Nursing Home Compare, starting February 20.  The old ratings system “relied too heavily on self-reported data and allow[ed] a majority of homes to score high ratings.” 

            The Nursing Home Compare website rates more than 15,000 nursing homes using three categories: government inspections, quality measures, and staffing levels.  Using those categories, an overall score is compiled.  Of the 15,000 nursing homes listed, 228 of them are located in Maryland, and 135 have four-star ratings (“above average”) or five-star ratings (“much above average”).  In fact, close to 35% of all Maryland nursing homes have a five-star rating, which accounts for 81 of 228 homes.  Unfortunately, there are 12 Maryland nursing homes that have a one-star rating.

            Some nursing home officials are criticizing this new system because some highly rated nursing homes are facing fines and other enforcement actions.  The federal government simply wants to hold nursing homes to a higher standard by making it more difficult to get four- and five-star ratings.  One of the biggest factors making up high scores are the amount of injuries residents develop while living in the nursing home.  This new system will also now keep track of the number of residents given unnecessary anti-psychotic drugs to make it easier for nurses and staff to manage them.  As a result of these changes, many nursing homes’ ratings could drop a star or more.

            While implementing a new rating system might confuse consumers looking at nursing homes, many officials in the industry believe this was a necessary change because more information is always better.  In the old system, very little information was collected and high ratings were too easy to achieve.

            Nursing homes are supposed to be places where people who need care but don't need to be in a hospital can live out their golden years with dignity. Unfortunately, when nursing homes and their staff members are negligent or abusive, the results can be tragic.  Our Maryland nursing home negligence lawyers pursue justice for families who have had a loved one injured due to:

                     Withholding food and water

                     Medication errors

                     Poor toilet and bathing facilities

                     Inadequate grooming

                     Physical abuse

                     Emotional abuse

                     Sexual abuse

              If your loved one has been injured due to nursing home abuse or neglect, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Portner & Shure can help you protect his or her rights.  Call us today for a free case evaluation at (301) 854-9000 or visit us online at:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bridge Concrete Falls on Car, Prompts Inspections of Aging Bridges in Maryland

          A “chunk of concrete” fell on a Prince George’s County woman’s car as she drove under the I-495 overpass in Morningside, damaging her hood and windshield.  As a result, Maryland’s Department of Transportation ordered immediate inspections of 27 “aging, state-owned bridges.”  All of these bridges were constructed before 1969 and run over other roads, which makes falling debris a risk.  While inspections will occur over the next few months, actual repairs might not be made for several years.  DOT officials are making these inspections because they do not want drivers to worry about driving on or under Maryland bridges.

            Statistics show that approximately 3% of the 2,903 bridges maintained by the State Highway Administration and Maryland Transportation Authority are “structurally deficient.”  In other words, these bridges are “safe for travel, but in need of significant rehabilitation or replacement.”  Maryland does not have as many “structurally deficient” bridges as most other states, such as Pennsylvania with 23% of the state’s 22,660 bridges.

            In the last decade, there have been several major bridge collapses and structural failures.  The average United States bridge is around 42 years old.  Maryland has received a “B-” on their bridge grade, which is just above the “C+” grade for the country as a whole.

            In addition to the “structurally deficient” bridges, Maryland also has 1,085 bridges or 20.5% of all bridge that are “functionally obsolete or no longer meet current standards for bridge construction.”

            Some of the bridges on the list to be inspected include: Mount Carmel Road over I-83, I-83 over Padonia road, Route 151 over Patapsco and Back River Railroad, I-695 inner loop at Benson Avenue and U.S. 1, Crosby Road over I-695, Tridelphia Road over Route 32, Route 195 over Sligo Creek Parkway.

            If you have suffered an injury as a result of falling bridge debris or structural bridge failure in Maryland, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free case evaluation or visit us online at:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Teenager Killed in Head-On Collision with School Bus

           Early this morning, a 17 year old girl lost her life after crashing head on in to a Frederick County school bus just beginning its route on Old Middletown Road in Frederick.  The 17 year old, Claire Knight, was driving in a SUV going north and the school bus, with only one student on board, was traveling south when the two vehicles collided.  Damage to both the SUV and the school bus is catastrophic, and unfortunately Claire Knight did not survive the crash.  The bus driver only sustained minor injuries and the single student was left unharmed.  There are no indications of the cause of the accident and who, if anyone, was at fault.

            Bus accidents happen far too often, with adults and children losing their lives as a result.  When you suffer injuries or the loss of a loved one in a bus crash, it is important that you talk to an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney to have your case evaluated.  If the cause of the crash is due to the negligence or some other fault of the other driver, you may be eligible to recover for your injuries.  For those who have lost a family member in a bus accident in Maryland, an attorney can file a wrongful death lawsuit so you can be compensated.

An experienced Maryland bus accident attorney will take the time to investigate the cause of the crash and knows what to look for in order to maximize the recovery in a given case.  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.  Determining fault in a bus accident whether it is a school bus, public transportation bus, or privately chartered bus all depends on the cause of the accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a bus accident or has died as a result of their injury suffered in a Maryland crash, and would like more information, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free case evaluation or visit us online at:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Maryland Transportation Statistics Show Decline in Accidents

           The most recent statistics compiled by Maryland’s Department of Transportation show a decrease in the number of car accidents between 2013 and 2014.  For FY2013, 3,456 car accidents occurred on Maryland’s roads.  However, in FY2014, that number decreased to 3,052 car accidents.  Another interesting statistic is the total ridership numbers in FY2013 versus FY2014 for public transportation.  In 2013, the number was 119,259,611, the highest it has ever been, but in 2014, that number dropped to 113,803,902.  The drop in car accidents cannot be attributed to fewer people driving cars and choosing to take public transportation because total ridership decreased significantly.

            Preliminary numbers from 2013 for traffic fatalities in Maryland show 466 highway deaths, the lowest since 1961. (Note: 2014 statistics still being compiled).  The 2013 number is a decrease of 45 deaths from 2012.  Maryland continues to improve safety on its roadways by passing new laws to combat distracted driving and constantly improving highways and bridges.  With a goal of zero highway deaths on Maryland roadways, Maryland’s transportation officials and law enforcement are “encourage by the drop in traffic-related fatalities, but [know] there is still work to be done.”  Maryland’s plan to reduce traffic fatalities is the Strategic Highway Safety Plan.  This plan focuses on five areas: aggressive driving prevention, distracted driving prevention, highway infrastructure, occupant protection, and pedestrian safety.

            As police crack down on distracted and aggressive drivers, officials continue to improve roadways, and auto manufacturers continue to make cars safer, these numbers should continue to decrease over the next several years.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car, truck, or bus accident or has died as a result of their injury suffered in a Maryland crash, and would like more information, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free case evaluation or visit us online at:  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tractor Trailer Collides with Car, Crashes into Maryland House

         Early this morning, a tractor trailer truck collided with a car on Honeygo Boulevard, near Cross Road in Perry Hall.  The car was making a left turn when the crash occurred.  The truck continued moving after hitting the car and eventually ran off the road into the back of a house.  The truck driver was trapped inside and firefighters were needed to pull him out.  The extent of the driver’s injuries is unknown, but he was taken to the hospital for treatment.  The house sustained minor structural damage as a result of the crash and nobody was injured inside the house.  The cause of the collision with the car, which started the chain reaction, is not known, but it is possible that strong winds this morning played a role.

Tractor trailer truck accidents often result in devastating injuries and catastrophic damage, but truck accident cases are often complicated and require experienced attorneys.  The size and weight of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles make them very dangerous when on the road, especially in inclement weather.  Truck accidents often involve several other cars, thereby making it very important for someone involved in a truck accident to hire an experienced attorney. Injuries resulting from truck accidents can be devastating and 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.  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.

           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.  Courts will place a higher duty on a more experienced and prevalent shipper with frequent 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 Maryland, and would like more information, please call us at (301) 854-9000 for a free case evaluation or visit us online at:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Maryland Motorcyclist Injured in Accident Settles for $600,000

          In June 2012, Robert Allen Reed was riding his motorcycle on Prospect Road in Carroll County, Maryland.  Cathy Ann Scoppa was driving her Toyota Highlander, attempting to cross Prospect Road onto Rising Ridge Road when she struck Reed on his motorcycle.  As a result of the collision, Reed fell of his motorcycle and the car ran over his right leg before coming to a stop.  In the accident, Reed broke his tibia and fibia in his right leg.  Doctors placed a rod in Reed’s leg, but the leg did not heal correctly.  A bone graft was later needed to help repair the leg.

            Reed is still in pain over two and a half years after the accident, and he has missed 62 weeks of work while recovering.  Reed’s attorneys contended that his “past medical bills totaled $52,000 and lost wages totaled $110,000.”  Scoppa’s attorneys made a first offer of $200,000 several months ago.  Last week, the offer increased to $450,000 before eventually being increased one last time to $600,000.

            Motorcycle accidents are one of the most dangerous types of accidents because motorcyclists lack the same protection as cars and trucks.  Motorcycles do not have airbags, windshields or seatbelts to protect them in an accident.  And, as was the case here, there is nothing to protect the rider from being run over by a car.  After a motorcycle accident has occurred, it is important for you, as the rider to immediately seek medical attention for your injuries.  Common injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident include scrapes and bruises, broken arms and/or legs, concussions, or even death. 

            If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident it is important to call an experienced Maryland motorcycle accident attorney to help you recover any benefits to which you may be entitled and to assure that all evidence and witnesses do not disappear.

Contact Portner & Shure for a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on motorcycle accidents at (410) 995-1515 or visit us on the web at

Monday, February 2, 2015

Hit-and-Run Kills Pedestrian Near Laurel

           Last night, a 38 year-old man was killed and a woman was injured in a hit and run crash along the northbound lanes of the Baltimore Washington Parkway near Route 197.  The victim is from Washington, D.C. and his identity has not been released yet.

            Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, why the man and woman were walking on the Baltimore Washington Parkway, and the identity of the driver of the car.  It is believed that once the vehicle struck the two pedestrians, it continued driving north on the parkway.

            Unfortunately, thousands of pedestrians are killed each year in accidents and actually the numbers have been increasing nationwide in recent years.  2010 data from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) placed Maryland as the seventh most dangerous state for pedestrians with 1.75 fatalities per 100,000 residents.  However, the most recent statistics do not have Maryland ranked in the top ten for worst states for pedestrians.  According to the NHTSA, nearly 3 out of 4 pedestrian deaths occur in urban environments, at intersections, during the nighttime.  In addition, more than a third of pedestrian deaths involve alcohol.

            The most important determining factor in a pedestrian accident case is whether the pedestrian was lawfully crossing the street at the time of the crash.  In other words, was the pedestrian crossing the street against the signal, crossing outside the crosswalk, or texting while crossing, or was the pedestrian crossing with the “walk” signal and inside the crosswalk.  Because Maryland is a contributory negligence state, if the victim pedestrian is negligent in any way, they cannot recover in a civil lawsuit.

If you or a family member has been injured or killed by a driver while crossing the street, contact Portner & Shure for a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on pedestrian accidents at (410) 995-1515 or visit us on the web at