Negligence on the part of one driver can result in the injury and death of one or many innocent people. As Maryland injury accident lawyers, I and my colleagues feel deeply for the families of automobile accident victims, especially in cases where loved ones have died as a result of a car, truck or motorcycle wreck. Of course, there is no amount of money that can bring a person back to life, but the recovery of medical expenses and any court-ordered award for pain and suffering can help a family get back to the job of living.
With this in mind, a wrongful death lawsuit is one way a family can punish an individual whose negligent actions brought about the untimely death of a loved one. These victims can be other drivers, innocent bystanders, and even passengers in the defendant’s own vehicle. Whether you live in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Annapolis or Washington, D.C., car, bus and commercial trucking collisions happen all too frequently. The results can be devastating, with even the survivors suffering long-term disability due to spinal cord damage, neck injury or traumatic brain injury.
Drunken driving is probably one of the most common causes of preventable traffic accidents, which take lives, destroy property and scar families for years to come. The choice of a driver to get behind the wheel in an impaired state is as much a function of poor judgment as trying to beat a red light, or speeding in dense traffic. It’s a sad fact that a driver’s bad choices on the road can and do result in injury and death to others around them.
Not long ago, an article caught our eye that illustrates how quickly one individual’s poor judgment can take the life of another vibrant and lively human being. According to news reports, a 33-year-old Laurel, MD, woman received more than fours years in jail (plus 3 years of supervised release) for the drunken driving-related death of a 31-year-old passenger in October of 2009. That passenger was a basketball player for Howard University, as well as James Madison.
Based on court records, Kristen D. Smith was operating a passenger car going south along a stretch of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway some time after 3am on October 31, 2009. Approaching an exit ramp leading to Rte 50, the woman reportedly lost control of her vehicle.
As it went out of control the car hit a nearby stone wall, which caused the vehicle to flip a number of times before coming to a stop off to the side of the roadway. As a result of the violent crash and subsequent rollover, Smith’s passenger, 31-year-old Jabari Outtz died of his injuries. He was apparently pronounced dead at the scene.
Police reports at the time showed that another driver who stopped to render aid to the victims noticed the distinct odor of alcohol on Smith’s person. Following the accident, officers from the U.S. Park Police determined that Smith’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was 0.09 percent nearly two hours after the traffic accident.
Following a one-day trial, a U.S. District court found Smith guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced her to 51 months in jail. That sentence, according to court records, will be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
Laurel woman sentenced in 2009 fatal car accident, ExploreHoward.com, March 24, 2011