Baltimore Personal Injury News: Ruling Delayed on Fatal DUI Traffic Accident that Killed Maryland Woman

The facts are the facts, or so some would say. But in a percentage of traffic accident cases, witnesses’ accounts and those of the victims can vary widely. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, our job is to gather the facts and present them to the court for judgment. These kinds of cases can arise from automobile accident-related injuries or even wrongful deaths from traffic collisions or pedestrian accidents.

In cases that involve occupant injuries, a car or trucking-related crash could result in something as minor as superficial cuts and bruises to more serious lacerations and bone fractures. Depending on the severity of the wreck, the driver or passengers may have suffered back or neck injuries, some of which can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life down the road. These kinds of life-threatening, or certainly life-altering, injuries can include spinal cord damage and closed-head trauma.

Whether a judge or jury rules in a victim’s favor can have a strong bearing on the testimony given by those involved in the accident, as well as witnesses to the car, truck or motorcycle crash. In a vehicular homicide case that came before a Carroll County court a while back, the judge decided to postpone his ruling because of some conflicting expert testimony pertaining to the 2009 car wreck that killed a woman from Westminster, MD.

The reason for the delay, according to news articles, was a reported conflict in the expert witnesses’ statements pertaining to the vehicle speed and the angle during that deadly collision two years ago. Based on news accounts, the judge would provide a verdict on May 17.

The accident that took the life of 24-year-old Valerie Claire Tull occurred on October 19, 2009, when her vehicle was struck by second car driven by 21-year-old Anastacia Hardester. Following the crash, police charged the driver with vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol while transporting a minor.

Police reports showed that the defendant claimed she had taken her prescribed daily methadone dosage of 55mg just before 11am that day. The accident occurred at about 2pm and the prosecutor argued that the medication made her drowsy and caused her to fall asleep at the wheel, which allegedly led to the accident. A toxicologist working for the medical examiner’s office testified that Hardester might not have demonstrated signs of impairment due to drug use as she was being assessed after the crash due to the possible offsetting of symptoms caused by a rise in adrenaline following the trauma of the accident.

During the trial, an accident reconstruction expert and former sergeant with the Maryland State Police testified that the MSP’s calculations made by another officer regarding the speed and angle of the collision were incorrect. Based on court records, the expert testified the defendant’s vehicle was traveling between 65 and 73mph, while the victim’s car was moving somewhere between 40 and 43mph.

The second expert said that Hardester’s vehicle speed was between 49 and 52mph, while Tull’s car was traveling around 24 to 30mph. These contrasting opinions influenced the judge in the case to delay sentencing until next week.

Judge to wait until May to make ruling in vehicular homicide trial,, March 24, 2011

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