Westminster is a small city in northern Maryland, 40 miles northwest of Baltimore. The county seat of Carroll County, Westminster has a long and strange history in the law, serving as the site for some of the most pivotal cases in the past century.
However, Westminster is also home to some of the more run-of-the-mill legal problems, as well. Just like in other cities across the U.S., accidents happen in Westminster that lead to innocent people suffering serious injuries that they did not deserve. When this happens, expecting these accident victims to pay for the costs of their own injuries would be unfair. After all, they were hurt because of someone else's negligence: Not through some fault of their own.
If you ever get hurt in an accident in Westminster, filing a personal injury lawsuit can be your best option if you want to get compensated for your injuries by the person or people who caused them. This is where the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help.
Westminster was one of the early towns founded in the state of Maryland, dating back to 1764. Located near the northern border of Maryland with Pennsylvania, it was near the battlefront during the Civil War and was the site of several skirmishes and some tension between Union and Confederate sympathizers. Now, though, Westminster is more widely known as one of the few communities in the United States to provide all of its residents with a free connection to a fiber optic internet network that the city runs.
The city of Westminster, though, was involved in two of the more interesting court cases in the past 75 years – the Hiss Investigation and, more recently, the huge Supreme Court case that dealt with the Westboro Baptist Church's right to picket the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Whittaker Chambers was a well-known writer for Time Magazine but was also an undercover spy for the Soviet Union. Chambers, however, became disillusioned with communism and started cooperating with U.S. investigators at the House Un-American Activities Committee in the early days of McCarthyism. Chambers flipped on several of his co-conspirators, including Alger Hiss, a prominent attorney at the State Department. When Hiss filed a lawsuit against Chambers for libel, Chambers traveled to a farm in northern Westminster, Maryland, to retrieve evidence he had hidden in a pumpkin. These “pumpkin papers” served as evidence against Hiss, and resulted in his conviction for perjury.
While Westminster had only a tangential connection to the Hiss Investigation, it was the primary site of the Westboro Baptist Church's picketing activities that got them to the Supreme Court of the United States. A Westminster native and soldier, Matthew Snyder, was killed in Iraq. The Westboro Baptist Church – a small group of less than 50 members – picketed Snyder's funeral in Westminster by saying his death was divine retribution for America's acceptance of homosexuality. Snyder's father sued the Church and the lawsuit went to the Supreme Court, where the case has become a prominent case in the First Amendment and the Freedom of Speech.
Personal Injury Claims in Westminster
Just like in the rest of Maryland, if you have been hurt in Westminster, you need to prove four elements to be successful in a personal injury lawsuit:
- Someone else owed you a duty of care,
- That person breached their duty of care,
- That breach was the cause of your losses, and
- You suffered legal damages, whether they be physical or financial.
These four elements are the cornerstones of all personal injury lawsuits, despite the fact that each case is unique. Here is what they mean.
The Duty of Care
Every person in Maryland is legally required to act like a reasonably prudent person when it is foreseeable that their conduct can lead to someone else getting hurt. What it means to act like a reasonably prudent person, though, depends on the specific circumstances of each case.
Breach of the Duty of Care
When someone else owes you a duty of care, but then they fail to uphold it by not acting like a reasonably prudent person would have acted, they can be held liable for your injuries if you can show that their actions caused your losses
No matter how poorly or negligently someone else acted, if they did not cause your injuries then it would be unfair to hold them liable for what you have gone through. The law of Maryland recognizes this, and requires you to prove two different aspects of causation:
- You would not have been hurt, but for the other person's negligence or oversight, and
- Your injuries were not so far removed from the other person's conduct that holding them financially responsible would be unfair.
Because personal injury cases are all about getting compensated for your losses, in a successful lawsuit you need to show all of the ways that you have been hurt, whether physical or financial. However, Maryland recognizes that this can go far beyond just the medical bills that you have already paid on your road to recovery. Instead, it also includes the medical bills that you are likely to accumulate in the future, as well as the wages you have lost because of your injuries and those you are likely to lose, plus the pain and suffering that you and your family have gone through because of the accident.
Car Accidents in Westminster
The most common source of a personal injury case in Westminster is a car accident. Drivers are legally required to drive reasonably safely, and if they do not they can breach their duty of care to you. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. People constantly drive while distracted or, worse, drunk. If this causes a car accident that hurts you, the other driver could be legally responsible for your injuries and owe you compensation.
Another common source of personal injury case in Westminster is a dog bite. Pet owners are often convinced that their dog is a friendly one, and do not take reasonable precautions to keep you or your loved ones safe. Unfortunately, this can lead to a significant injury if the dog gets upset or protective and lashes out at you or someone you love. Injuries caused by dog bites are often debilitating over the long term, and the people who are most likely to be bitten by a dog are children, making these types of personal injury cases especially important.
Anyone who owns land or uses a building or other real estate for their business in Westminster owes a duty of care to the people who visit. If they do not uphold this duty of care, they can find themselves facing premises liability for any injuries that they cause.
Exactly what this duty of care entails, though, depends on whether you were on the property with the owner's permission or for the owner's financial benefit. If the owner was benefitting financially from your presence, like if the landowner ran a business and you were visiting it in order to buy something, then you are considered an invitee and the landowner would have an elevated duty of care to keep you safe. If you were on the property with the owner's permission or at their invitation – like a social guest attending a party – then you would be considered a licensee and would be owed a slightly lower duty of care. Finally, trespassers – those who are on the premises without the owner's permission – are owed only the bare minimum duty of care. However, even if you were a trespasser when you were hurt on someone else's property does not mean that you are out of luck: You still have some legal rights to enforce.
One of the rarest but most devastating kinds of personal injury case is medical malpractice. Just like other people, doctors and other medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care. If they make a mistake or act negligently and that causes you to get hurt, they might have committed medical malpractice and owe you compensation for the injuries they have caused. This is true of healthcare professionals who work independently in clinics as well as those in a major medical facility like Carroll Hospital.
Gilman & Bedigian: Personal Injury Attorneys in Westminster
If you have been hurt because someone else was acting recklessly or negligently, there is no reason why you should have to foot the bill of your own recovery. It is unfair enough that you have to take time out of your own life to get over injuries that you were not responsible for.
This is why a personal injury lawsuit can be your best option. By filing suit against the person or people who were ultimately responsible for your injuries, you can get the financial compensation that you deserve from those who wronged you.
Reach out to the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian by contacting them online or calling them at (800) 529-6162.