Despite great improvements in the safety of cars and roadway infrastructure, motor vehicle accidents remain the number one cause of death in the United States for those aged 1-54. Many of these accidents are preventable. Just last week, for example, three people died in a Maryland crash where alcohol was a suspected factor.

The accident took place in Anne Arundel County on a Saturday night. In this single-car crash, an SUV heading westbound was spotted barreling down the road before suddenly exiting the road, flipping upside down, and smashing into a tree. Tragically, all three people in the SUV died on the scene. The youngest was just 31 years old.

Although the most direct causes of the crash appear to have been excessive speed and the driver’s failure to stay in his lane, officials also believe that alcohol was a contributing factor.

A recent car accident tragically resulted in the death of a 55-year-old man dead at the scene and left the other driver with non-life-threatening injuries. According to a local news report, a Nissan was traveling in the wrong direction early on one Sunday morning when it collided with another vehicle. The fatal accident occurred on Route 340 west near St. Mark’s Road. Preliminary accident reports indicate that the 24-year-old woman who was driving the Nissan may have been under the influence of alcohol. The accident resulted in a road closure for approximately four hours.

While alcohol may have played a role in this accident, head-on collision crashes could happen because of a variety of reasons. Whether a driver is distracted, fell asleep at the wheel, was driving aggressively, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, physical evidence typically will be found at the scene of head-on collisions. This physical evidence must be gathered promptly in order to be used in lawsuits against the driver-at-fault. In Maryland, if the driver acted negligently or in a reckless manner, filing a personal injury wrongful death lawsuit may be an option. These claims can be filed for financial compensation to assist families who are grieving the loss of their loved one and/or to assist a family with financial obligations. Because wrongful death lawsuits have a three-year statute of limitation, claims must be filed within three years of the date of the deceased’s death.

Wrongful death claims are filed in civil court, and navigating such a lawsuit can be tricky. Maryland is a contributory negligence state, which means under Maryland law, if the plaintiff was even slightly at fault for the accident, they will not be able to recover anything from the lawsuit. As a result, defendants may work diligently to prove that the other party was not completely in their own lane at the time of the crash, for example. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side could be the difference between being able to successfully recover and being barred from recovery. Potential plaintiffs should work with dedicated attorneys who are ready to build the strongest case for their clients and get the optimal result for victims who have suffered injury or lost a loved one.

Knowing the ins and outs of Maryland’s car insurance laws can help you stay financially protected should you become the victim of an accident.

For example, despite Maryland laws requiring drivers to carry car insurance, a recent report showed that about 14 percent of drivers in the state are still uninsured. The unfortunate person who is injured in a motor vehicle accident by an uninsured driver may still be financially protected, however, if she has purchased the right kind of insurance.

Like in most states, Maryland drivers must carry basic liability insurance to help cover the cost of injuries and damage to other people and their belongings in connection with an accident.

Lots of Maryland families travel for the Independence Day weekend. Whether driving to a barbeque, a firework show, or to the shore for the long weekend, holiday travel carries a higher risk for involvement in a motor vehicle accident. In fact, statistics show that the Fourth of July weekend is the deadliest weekend of the year in terms of roadway fatalities.

This year, on the Friday before Independence Day, Maryland police responded to a rush-hour crash in which two people were injured. According to reports, both vehicles in the accident incurred substantial damage. Apparently, both drivers in the two-car accident were trapped in their respective vehicles until firefighters arrived to extract them. Although one of the drivers was treated locally, the other driver required air transport to a shock trauma unit.

After the accident, police temporarily closed the roadway to reconstruct the scene. Although information about the status of the drivers and the cause of the accident has not yet been released to the public, these details may become available in the coming weeks and months.

After a Maryland multi-vehicle accident, determining who caused the crash can be difficult. In some cases, there may be multiple contributing causes of the crash. If a plaintiff files a Maryland negligence against one or more defendants involved in the crash, the plaintiff must show that a defendant’s wrongful action or inaction was a cause-in-fact and a legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Cause-in-fact means proving that a defendant’s conduct actually caused the injury, whereas legal cause means proving that a defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injury.

If two or more independent negligent acts caused the plaintiff’s injuries, Maryland courts will determine whether a defendant’s conduct was a “substantial factor” in bringing about the plaintiff’s injuries. Even if a defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries, the harm must have been sufficiently related to the defendant’s negligent conduct. That is, Maryland courts will consider the foreseeability of the harm and the relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the harm. Maryland courts may decline to hold a defendant liable due to policy considerations and fairness. In addition, because Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, if a plaintiff is found to be even partially at fault for their own injuries in a Maryland negligence case, the plaintiff cannot recover compensation in court. Maryland is one of the few states in the United States that continues to apply the doctrine of contributory negligence. This means that plaintiffs often have to defend against claims that they were negligent in order to succeed in court.

The plaintiff must prove all elements of the case, including causation, by a preponderance of the evidence—that the defendant’s actions were more likely than not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff may prove the case through either direct or circumstantial evidence and the plaintiff must identify specific actions or inactions of the defendant that were negligent.

Drunk driving is frequently listed as one of the leading causes of Maryland car accidents. Sadly, we take this as a given, as drunk driving accidents are not uncommon. However, every single DUI accident is entirely preventable and, despite the decades-long efforts of lawmakers, people continue to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

Consuming alcohol has several negative effects on a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. For example, those who consume alcohol have slower reaction times, their judgment becomes clouded, they often get sleepy, and their ability to gauge risk is greatly compromised. The end result is that anytime someone gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink, they place everyone on the road at risk. Drivers who engage in this reckless conduct can—and should—be held accountable for their actions.

DC Teachers’ Union President Legally Impaired Following Fatal Accident

A tragic example of a drunk driving case comes from neighboring Washington, D.C. Back in April of this year, a D.C. musician was fatally struck by a driver while waiting at a traffic light. According to a local news report, the tragic collision took place at the intersection of Crain Highway and Harbour Way in Prince George’s Count. As it turns, out the driver of the striking vehicle was the president of the D.C. Teacher’s Union.

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Recently, a fatal Maryland hit and run accident made headlines, reported by multiple news outlets including CBS Baltimore. According to CBS Baltimore, the crash happened around 3 PM one Thursday afternoon late last month. Maryland State Police said that a 49-year-old Baltimore woman was heading west on Route 50 near Nesbit Road when she tried to pass a box truck by using the left shoulder of the road. Unfortunately, she hit the box truck while trying to return to the road and then lost control of her vehicle. Her car went down an embankment, where it hit multiple trees before finally stopping. But the driver of the box truck did not stay on the scene, making this a hit-and-run crash, so named because one driver hit another (whether or not they were at fault) and then fled the scene. When officials responded to the scene, they transported the woman to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Hit-and-run accidents are infuriating for many Maryland drivers, particularly those who lose a loved one as a result. In fact, a hit-and-run is actually a crime in the Maryland criminal code. Because it is punishable through criminal law, many Maryland hit-and-run accident victims wonder if they can receive punitive damages—damages designed to punish the defendant—through a civil lawsuit against a driver who hit and ran. The answer, usually, is no.

Civil lawsuits, as opposed to criminal suits, are not meant to punish the defendant who caused harm. Instead, they are meant to make a plaintiff who suffered harm whole, and so typically the defendant is ordered to pay them monetary damages to put them back in as close to the same position as they would have been if the car accident had not happened. These damages typically cover medical expenses, both past and future, as well as lost wages, incidental costs, and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death action, they might also cover funeral and burial costs.

One of the elements that individuals filing a Maryland negligence claim have to prove is causation. But even if a court finds a defendant’s acts or omissions were the cause-in-fact of the plaintiff’s injuries, the court will also consider whether the defendant’s negligent actions are a legally cognizable cause—that is, whether the defendant should be held liable under the circumstances. This consideration generally centers on whether the plaintiff’s injuries were within the harm that the defendant should have anticipated or expected due to the defendant’s negligent actions. Thus, a defendant may not be liable if the plaintiff’s injuries resulted only because of very unusual and unexpected circumstances. In considering whether a defendant may be liable for a plaintiff’s injuries, the court will consider any intervening negligent acts or omissions in the foreseeability analysis. If an intervening negligent action or omission is found to be a superseding cause, the defendant will not be held liable. Intervening acts may include the criminal acts of a third party after the defendant’s original act of negligence, as in the following case.

In a recent decision issued by a state supreme court, the court considered a case in which an employee at an Avis rental company stole an SUV from the rental lot where he worked after it had closed for the day. He drove the SUV around for hours in hopes of selling the vehicle. Police officers saw him driving erratically and approached him, and the driver sped off in an attempt to escape. As he was trying to escape, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall where two people were sitting, severely injuring them. The two individuals sued the driver and others, including Avis rental car company, alleging negligence and vicarious liability. The juries in both cases found in favor of the plaintiffs.

However, the Supreme Court of George found that the plaintiffs could not recover because the driver’s intervening criminal conduct severed the chain of events for causation. The court held that the driver’s criminal acts were the intervening and independent wrongful act of a third person. The court decided that even if Avis was negligent in allowing the employee to gain access to a car and steal it after hours, the injuries to the plaintiffs were not a probable or natural consequence that could have been reasonably foreseen by the defendants. No evidence showed that the defendants could have reasonably foreseen that the driver would lead police on a high-speed chase and crash into the plaintiffs.

Maryland car accidents happen every day, and many of them even make headlines in the local news. Maryland residents may see headlines every week about new car accidents happening across the state. But often, the news report discusses the accident and then notes the crash remains under investigation. Readers then likely move on and forget about the crash, and do not fully see or understand the aftermath of these crashes, especially the more serious ones.

For example, just recently, the Southern Maryland Chronicle reported on a fatal car accident occurring on Route 4/Southern Maryland Boulevard at Lower Marlboro Road in Huntingtown, Maryland. According to the report, the accident occurred just around 12:00 pm on a Monday afternoon. A 2003 Dodge Ram, driven by an 18-year-old man, was traveling south on the boulevard when a 2005 Suzuki SUV, driven by a 49-year-old woman, made a left turn onto the boulevard. Both vehicles entered the intersection at the same time, resulting in the Suzuki being struck on the driver’s side. When officers arrived at the scene, they found the Suzuki on its side and the Dodge with damage to its front end.

The driver of the Suzuki was immediately transported to Calvert Health Medical Center, where she sadly died from her injuries. The driver of the Dodge was not seriously injured. As of now, the crash remains under investigation and it is not clear who is at fault.

Car accidents happen in all types of configurations—from fender benders to T-bone accidents, they can all be dangerous, injurious, and even fatal. Perhaps the most dangerous among different types of car accidents, however, are head-on collisions. When these accidents take place as a result of one party’s negligence or lack of care, those who are responsible can be held accountable through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

According to a recent news report, a local car accident killed two people. Preliminary accident reports indicate that a Hyundai was being operated negligently by its driver driving westbound in an eastbound lane. The Hyundai then collided head-on with a Toyota that was traveling eastbound. The driver of the Hyundai was ejected from her vehicle and was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Early reports also suggest that the Hyundai driver was not wearing a seatbelt. The driver of the Toyota was trapped in her vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. In addition to local troopers, fire and emergency medical services also responded to the accident, and the crash remains under investigation.

In Maryland, when an accident results in the death of another because the at-fault party conducted themselves in a negligent or reckless matter, you may have grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are typically filed for financial compensation. In this way, personal injury cases are separate from criminal cases, where a conviction results in jail time or fines owed to the state by the responsible party.

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