February 17, 2013

Victims of Maryland Automobile Accidents Need Not Be in a Vehicle to Suffer Injuries

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

As personal injury attorneys serving the residents of Baltimore, Annapolis, the District of Columbia, as well as other areas of our state, we have met numerous people over the years who have been seriously injured as a result of a car, truck or motorcycle collision on Maryland roadways. To say that automobile accidents happen often is an understatement, but the fact is that an injury accident can happen almost anywhere.

We recall that old auto insurance admonition, which still rings true today: “Most traffic accidents happen within 25 miles of home.” Since most people live and work generally within that radius, it’s a fair bet that if and when a car or trucking-related wreck does befall a person, there is a rather strong chance that it could occur within the range of one’s home.

When one considers the results of a traffic accident, it’s also good to think about the causes, which in many cases may have been preventable. Sadly, with human nature being what it is, eliminating all roadway collisions is likely more a pipe dream than anything else. But as Baltimore injury attorneys, we also know that a traffic wreck can happen to just one vehicle, and not always due to driver error or a mechanical problem with the vehicle itself.

Something that many people tend to forget, but which we all have likely experienced the annoyance of in the past, is there are roadways that can cause traffic accidents just as easily as another driver can. To be more specific, the actual road surface, signage, or roadway design can be a major factor in some single- and even multi-car accidents.

Contributing factors such as uneven or broken pavement, poorly placed or missing traffic signs, lack of a guardrail in a critical stretch of a road, malfunctioning traffic lights and even poorly maintained vegetation adjoining a highway or surface street have been known to either directly cause of serve as a major factor in a serious car or truck crash here in Maryland.

We all know that a significant percentage of the nation’s highway infrastructure is in rather poor condition and requiring billions of dollars’ worth of needed repair. Combine that with the normal and mostly random causes of traffic accidents and you can have a deadly combination. Maybe not every day, but certainly often enough to be of note. Of course, ever since the advent of the automobile, one needn’t be in a car to suffer injuries from a car accident.

We noted a news item from late last year in which a woman reportedly filed a $20 million law suit against her local municipality for costs related to injuries both she and her daughter received after a vehicle struck their home. According to news reports, the Staten Island, NY, woman and her five-year-old child narrowly escaped death after an allegedly drunk driver slammed his vehicle into the front of their house, pinning the two under debris and causing multiple severe injuries, including bone fractures and burns to their skin.

Maybe not as a complete coincidence, the same structure was hit by another vehicle 10 years earlier when a so-called monster pickup truck crashed into the home, in which a 62-year-old resident was living. The current victim filed a notice of claim against the city and two of its agencies stating that the city, its Department of Transportation and Department of Design and Construction city knew about the dangerous T-intersection in front of her home, yet apparently failed to do anything about it for 10 years.

For the city’s part, a single sign -- with arrows pointing left and right, which advised drivers they must turn one way or another -- was placed at the intersection a while after the earlier, 2002 crash occurred.

The plaintiff’s lawyer told news outlets that had a metal guardrail been placed at the intersection, then more than likely the collision between car and house could have been prevented, sparing his clients serious injury. The suit apparently states that the defendants were negligent in failing to design, construct and maintain the intersection to conform with commonly accepted engineering principles.


Staten Island woman injured as car struck home sues city for $20M, SILive.com, December 26, 2012