Negligence claims in personal injury cases: Untangling the key concepts you should know to win big.

By Jamie Strawbridge

When another person’s actions (or inactions) cause you or a loved one catastrophic injury, your life is turned upside down. Even while still reeling from the incident, you may have to navigate hospitals and make decisions about medical care, find the money to cover unexpected payments, speak with your boss about taking leave from work, and relay what is happening to concerned family and friends—all while trying to process what happened and why. Faced with such challenges, filing a lawsuit to attain the compensation to which you are entitled can seem daunting, or even impossible—one more thing for which you do not have the time or energy.

When it comes to a potential lawsuit, finding a good Maryland lawyer to guide you through the process is essential. Individuals who suffer personal injury—whether as a result of sexual abuse, a car accident, or harm by a police officer—and attempt to navigate Maryland’s legal system on their own are far less likely to receive early settlement offers and much more likely to have their case thrown out of court, as academic studies show (examples here and here). Lawyers can help determine whether you have a viable claim and how best to argue your case in court—giving you your best shot at compensation for the injury you suffered.

Personal injury lawyers can help translate your experience and injury into a legal claim that has the best possible chance of success. For example, one issue that often comes up in personal injury cases is whether the defendant—the person responsible for causing the harm—is liable for “negligence” or “gross negligence.” The difference between these standards, at least at first blush, seems slight. Negligence generally means the defendant did not take reasonable care to avoid injuring you. Gross negligence, by contrast, requires more; it means the defendant’s conduct was reckless, meaning the defendant acted with thoughtless disregard for the consequences of his or her actions and was generally indifferent to your rights.

Although the difference between negligence and gross negligence may seem small, whether a defendant may be liable for negligence or gross negligence can have an outsized impact on how you litigate your case and your prospects for success. Suppose an individual is harmed due to the actions (or inactions) of a Maryland state employee. A would-be plaintiff may contemplate a claim against that employee (in their personal capacity) under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. Under the MTCA, however, a state employee acting within his or her scope of employment can be sued if he or she acted with gross negligence but not if he or she was merely negligent. A lawyer can help you examine the facts and fit them to an appropriate legal claim.

The attorneys at Brown, Goldstein & Levy have vast experience representing individuals in personal injury lawsuits. BGL assists such individuals as part of its Maryland-based personal injury/wrongful death practice, which strives to ensure that individuals in Maryland and around the country receive the legal help they need when they or a loved one suffer from sexual abuse, a catastrophic car collision, medical malpractice, or injury at the hands of police officers. If you or a loved one have suffered such injury, consider contacting us today to discuss your situation.

Authored by

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Jamie Strawbridge Associate