Can I File a Claim For an Injury I Got at a Holiday Work Party?

Holiday Work Party with Holiday Treats

The holiday season is here again – a time for people to celebrate the end of the year and enjoy quality time with family and friends. It’s also the season for workplace parties, and many of us look forward to toasting our business accomplishments with colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere.

But what happens if you get injured at your holiday work party? While they’re thankfully pretty rare, work party accidents do sometimes occur. Here are some questions to consider if you’re thinking of filing a claim for a work party injury in the state of Maryland.

Was attendance mandatory (or were you paid/given other benefits or incentives to attend)? If you can prove that you were expected to attend your office holiday party, or you were at least rewarded for doing so, then you may be able to claim compensation if you were injured there. The rationale behind this is that your decision to attend was not based on personal choice, but rather a requirement (or an expectation) on behalf of your employers – so they’re responsible for your safety and wellbeing.

Was your injury the result of planned activities? Employers sometimes schedule team-building activities as part of their holiday festivities. If you’re injured participating in these activities, you may have a case for a claim.

Where was the event hosted? If the party was at your place of work, then your employers could potentially be held responsible for any injuries sustained there. If the party was elsewhere (at a restaurant, for example), you might be able to file a third-party liability claim – if you can prove that the third party was negligent in some way (say if you slipped and fell because of bad lighting or icy outdoor stairs).

Was alcohol involved? Alcohol tends to cloud people’s judgment, leading them to do things they might not ordinarily do. If alcohol is served at your work party and you’re injured in an accident as a result, you’ll need to demonstrate that your company (or a third party) showed negligence in their handling of the situation (making alcohol consumption a key component of the party’s activities, continuing to serve people even if they were visibly drunk, etc).

Can you be considered at fault? As we’ve mentioned in several other articles, Maryland is a contributory negligence state, which means that you can’t claim compensation if you’re found to be even 1% at fault in a personal injury case. Your best move is to speak to a qualified personal injury attorney, who can let you know how strong of a case you might have.

If you are injured at an office holiday party and you think you have a right to a claim, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Unusual Personal Injury Cases in Maryland

Personal Injury Unusual Cases

When you think of personal injury claims, both here in Maryland and throughout the country, car accidents might be the first thing that comes to mind. There’s a good reason for this: auto accidents are the leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States, accounting for over 50% of cases. Slip-and-fall accidents and medical malpractice are also common claims, as are workplace accidents.

Exceptions to the Rule

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some highly unusual personal injury claims over the years, however. One of Maryland’s most unique cases occurred back in 2008. Kyle Coleman, then a 20-year-old volunteer assistant coach for a soccer team near Columbia, jumped up to grab the top crossbar of a goal while he was retrieving a ball from the back of the net. The goal wasn’t secured, however, and Coleman fell onto his back, pulling the goal down on top of him. The crossbar smashed his face, causing injuries which required the insertion of titanium plates inside his head.

Coleman sued the organization in charge of the practice, Soccer Association of Columbia, for damages. He was not awarded any compensation, however. Why not? As previously mentioned[TK1] , Maryland is one of four states that adheres to the principle of contributory negligence, which dictates that you are not entitled to any compensation at all if you are found to be even 1% at fault in an accident. The jury in Coleman’s case ruled that jumping up to grab the soccer goal crossbar rendered him partially at fault in his accident, which disqualified him from receiving any financial settlement.

Other Unusual Cases

Outside of Maryland, there are plenty of other out-of-the-ordinary personal injury lawsuits worth mentioning – some of which are groundbreaking. You may have heard of the “McDonald’s coffee” lawsuit, which occurred some 30 years ago. 79-year-old Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns when she spilled a to-go cup of McDonald’s coffee on her lap while sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car. Liebeck originally tried to settle with McDonald’s, asking them to pay her $20,000 to cover her medical expenses, but the fast-food chain refused, instead offering her $800. So she filed a claim – and was eventually rewarded close to $3 million. While many people at the time dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, the fact remains that Liebeck sustained substantial injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence (the coffee was determined to have been upwards of 180 degrees Fahrenheit – far too hot to safely drink).

Of course, not every unusual lawsuit is successful. Take, for example, the case of Richard Overton vs. Anheuser Busch in 1994. Overton, a resident of Michigan, sued the brewing company for misrepresenting Bud Light in their advertising “as the source of fantasies coming to life… involving tropical settings, and beautiful women and men engaged in unrestricted merriment.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, his personal injury suit, which claimed emotional distress, mental injury and financial loss, wasn’t successful.

Wondering if your personal injury claim is too unusual? Don’t assume you can’t pursue damages, even in a contributory negligence state like Maryland. Your best bet is to contact a qualified personal injury attorney, who can let you know if your situation warrants a claim. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

What Are Some Common Injuries from Truck Accidents?

18-wheeler Parked in Maryland

Have you ever been on the highway and found yourself surrounded by trucks on all sides? It’s actually pretty rare not to see a lot of trucks on major roads these days – they’re an integral part of everyday life, providing crucial goods and services to people and businesses here in the Annapolis area and all over the country.

But if your blood pressure rises and your hands grip the wheel a little tighter when you’re driving near a truck, you’re not alone. Truck accidents have been on the rise over the last decade or so – and a collision with a truck can have life-altering consequences.

There are a few reasons why trucks can cause particularly serious accidents. First, consider how big and heavy they are; an 18-wheeler/tractor trailer can weigh 10 times as much as a regular car (or more), so getting hit by one is bound to result in some damage. In addition, large trucks can have blind spots where the driver can’t easily see what’s going on behind or beside them. And a truck’s size makes it harder to maneuver than cars, so it’s trickier for truck drivers to quickly avoid dangerous situations.

So what are the most common truck accident injuries? Let’s break them down below.

Head injuries. Truck accidents frequently result in head injuries, given how large trucks are and the force with which they hit other cars. Concussions (jolts or blows to the brain that cause it to move back and forth) are the most common of these types of injury, and can be debilitating if they’re serious. Other head injuries include contusions (bruises to the brain) and hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain due to ruptured blood vessels).

Neck, back and spinal injuries. If you’re hit from behind by a truck, your head and neck are likely to snap forward while your back, which is supported by your seat, stays in place – an injury commonly known as whiplash. Even with seat support, back and spinal injuries are common in truck accidents; a side-impact crash could twist your back, herniating the discs in your spinal cord. A serious impact could even fracture one or more of your vertebrae, causing chronic pain and potentially affecting your ability to walk.

Broken bones. Speaking of fractures, broken bones are a frequent outcome of truck accidents. While your bones are relatively strong, they’re not strong enough to withstand the force of being hit by a vehicle weighing over 50,000 pounds. Arms, legs and ribs tend to suffer the most damage after a collision with a truck.

Cuts and lacerations. Considering all of the debris that flies around as the result of an impact, it’s not surprising that cuts and lacerations are a common injury in trucking accidents. And while you’d probably consider yourself lucky to escape a crash with nothing more than cuts, you still have to make sure they’re properly treated. Left alone, serious lacerations can cause infections, skin damage or permanent disfigurement.

Burns. Burn injuries occur often in truck accidents because trucks can leak fuel after a collision. The leaking fuel is then ignited by other parts of the vehicle, like a hot engine, resulting in a fire and burn risks for vehicle occupants. Or a truck might be carrying flammable cargo like gasoline or explosives, which can be catastrophically dangerous if ignited.

If you’ve been in a truck accident in Annapolis and you believe the other driver is at fault, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Child Car Seat Laws in Maryland

Car Seats Law in Maryland

Keeping a child safe in a motor vehicle requires a little effort on the parents’ part. As cars do not automatically come with seats that protect infants and toddlers, parents must install such devices separately. According to the American Society for Positive Care of Children (American SPCC), using the right car seats and safety restraints can reduce the risk of serious injuries by 50 to 70 percent. It is critical to understand the car seat laws in Maryland to avoid legal trouble and to keep your child safe from injuries.

Safety seat requirements for children

Maryland Transportation Article 22-412.2 requires that children must be secured according to the following conditions:

  • Age 0-7:  Any child, age 0-7, who is shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches, must be secured in a child safety seat. If a child is less than 8 years old, but at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall, they must be secured in either a child safety seat or a seat belt.
  • Age 8-15:  Any child under age 16 must be secured in either a child safety seat or a seat belt.

Choosing the right car seat

It is not enough to install just any car seat. The seat must be the appropriate type for the age, size, and weight of the child. A child safety seat is defined as any child restraint device, including a booster seat, that the manufacturer certifies to meet federal standards. The law requires that you use the child safety seat according to its instructions, and the instructions of the vehicle manufacturer.

Rear-facing car seat. The Maryland Department of Health recommends that babies and young toddlers ride rear-facing as long as possible.  A child should ride in a rear-facing seat until reaching the maximum weight or height of the seat. A typical infant-only (carrier style) seat may be used to 22 pounds – though a few new infant-only seats have weight limits of 30 – 35 pounds.  Once a child outgrows the infant-only seat, a rear-facing convertible seat should be used. Convertible seats may be used rear-facing until 30 – 45 pounds. Always check the car seat instruction manual or labels for specific weight and height limits.

Forward-facing car seat. A child can move to a forward-facing car seat only when he or she outgrows the rear-facing seat. This typically occurs at two years old, but the age can vary according to the child’s height and weight. Read the instructions on your forward-facing seat to make sure your child fits the parameters before making the switch. It is safest for your child to use a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible.

While the law does not prohibit children from riding in the front seat, car seats should always be installed in the back seat of a vehicle unless the vehicle does not have a back seat. However, if a driver is unable to turn off the passenger-side airbag, it is a violation to place a child in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat. It’s not only illegal but extremely dangerous, as an airbag deploys with enough force to seriously injure, or kill, a child.

If you are unsure whether your car seat is properly installed, the Maryland Kids In Safety Seats (KISS) program provides free in-person car seat checks by state police officers as well as Car Seat Assistance Program webinars via Zoom.

Seat Belts Required for Teens

In addition to the child safety seat laws mentioned above, a child under the age of 16 must be secured in a child safety seat or a seat belt. Maryland Transportation Article §22-412.2(e) states subject to this law, “a person may not transport a child under the age of 16 years” unless the child is secured in a child safety seat in accordance with the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions OR with a seat belt. Additionally, it is unlawful to strap more than one child in the same seat belt. The rule is one seat belt per child.

All of the laws stated above apply to both in-state and out-of-state vehicles, and it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all children are properly secured. Any person convicted of a violation of these statutes is subject to a fine of $50.

If your child has been injured in a car accident in Maryland, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, Maryland today to schedule your free consultation. We’re here to protect your rights, and we don’t receive a fee unless we win.