As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, I and my legal staff have years of experience helping victims of car, truck and motorcycle collisions here in Baltimore County, as well as across the state of Maryland and Washington, D.C. One thing we know for our lengthy experience with auto, bike and commercial truck-related traffic accidents is that nobody fully expects to become involved in a bad car crash.
Furthermore, regardless of one’s age, level of education, overall health or socio-economic background, nobody should expect that EMS or other life-saving first responders will arrive at the scene of a roadway collision with time to spare; sometimes they simply can’t come fast enough. Granted, this all depends on the severity of the particular traffic wreck, as well as the distance from the nearest fire department or EMS depot; but the promise of a good outcome is never certain.
This is why, in incidents involving driver negligence — when an innocent victim dies as a result of another person’s mistake or thoughtless actions — that a wrongful death lawsuit is not out of the question. This is because some accidents result, tragically, in loss of life. And when someone is killed or otherwise losses their life because of someone else’s careless or negligent behavior, the family of the deceased may still be able to hold that negligent party responsible.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand the law that governs wrongful death suits. In such cases, where a person has been killed, a suit can be brought against the negligent person or entity by the victim’s surviving family members. A claim such as this would typically seek compensation, from the responsible party or parties, for the family’s loss of the victim’s life. (This also includes the deceased’s love and companionship, as well as any lost financial support that the family would have expected to receive had the victim survived the accident in the first place.)
Under Maryland law, only a parent, spouse or child of a deceased individual may bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases where there are no surviving beneficiaries, a secondary beneficiary (someone who is not a parent, spouse or child of the victim) may sometimes be able to recover damages, though this is dependent on the circumstances and must be discussed with a qualified legal professional. In the case of children of victims of fatal accidents, any adult child over 21 years of age has the right under Maryland law to file a wrongful death lawsuit for a deceased parent. The opposite is true for parents of a child who has died as a result of a negligent act, even if that child is over 21.
If the flooding and hurricane damage earlier this season was any example, it showed how easily people can be caught unprepared for a serious and possibly fatal incident. Being swept up in a river overtopping its banks can be deadly, just as can a single-car accident leading to a fire or other life-threatening event. Not long ago, a man died in his car before EMS crews could render assistance. While there was no indication of who was at fault for the fatal car crash, it exemplified the fragility of life and the uncertainty of receiving help fast enough following a serious traffic accident.
According to news reports, the accident in question happened along a stretch of Budds Creek Rd. Reports from the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office described the fatal accident, which occurred in the late afternoon on a Tuesday. Based on news reports, the victim was operating his Ford pickup truck near a wooded area when he apparently lost control of the vehicle. The pickup ran off the road and into a nearby ditch.
After hitting a number of trees, the truck came to rest, but the driver was apparently critically injured and trapped in the vehicle. Sadly, before emergency responders could help get the man out and render medical treatment, he died inside the vehicle.
This was a single-vehicle collision and police could not tell, at the time of the news report, whether the driver had swerved to avoid and animal or other obstacle in the roadway. Apparently, police ruled out another vehicle as a possible cause of the crash. Likewise, the authorities did not believe that speeding or drunken driving were contributing factors in the incident. If the accident was caused by a possible mechanical problem with the vehicle itself, this may fall under products liability, but that would also depend on the circumstances and the results of a police accident investigation.
Man Trapped In Wrecked Car Died As Emergency Units Responded, CBSLocal.com, September 25, 2012