Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Accidents

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only dangerous but highly illegal. The chances of crashes and fatal accidents increase when drivers are inhibited because they are less able to react to situations that come up on the road or exercise poor judgment while driving. Unfortunately, Maryland drivers are all too familiar with the dangers of drivers operating their vehicles under the influence. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Maryland drivers reported driving after drinking at a higher rate than the national reporting rate. In fact, between 2009 and 2018, 1,515 people were killed in alcohol-involved crashes in Maryland. The CDC has found that over 10,000 people per year die in such crashes throughout the country. A recent article discussed a local fatal crash where alcohol was involved.

According to the news article about a recent crash involving an intoxicated driver, the accident occurred in the evening around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, December 18, when a 2001 Volvo S80 with a driver and a passenger was traveling on Solomons Island Road approaching eastbound Route 665 when the vehicle left the right side of the roadway and struck a utility pole, crashing. The crash was a single-vehicle accident. Immediately following the collision with the utility pole, the passenger, who was in the front seat, was transported to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. The passenger was later pronounced deceased. Due to roadside observations, the driver of the car was determined to be under the influence of alcohol and placed under arrest by authorities for further testing. The crash is currently under investigation by the Traffic Safety Section

Does My Negligence Affect My Maryland Case?

Contributory Negligence is a legal concept that potentially prevents plaintiffs in an accident case from receiving recovery for injuries resulting from a crash if their negligence contributed to the accident to any degree. Essentially, even if the negligence of the operator of another vehicle is largely responsible for the accident, if the plaintiff was even a little negligent, it is possible they will not be able to recover compensation. In Maryland, contributory negligence is interpreted very broadly, allowing minor negligence by the plaintiff in personal injury cases to defeat even very strong claims.

Sometimes, when car accidents take place, the fault does not always fall entirely on one party. Although one party may share more of the fault proportionally, this situation often gives rise to complicated issues when personal injury claims are at stake. In some states, like Maryland, if you contributed to causing the accident in any way, it could bar you from receiving compensation. Thus, understanding your rights and discussing the circumstances surrounding your accident with an experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial to maximizing the success of your lawsuit.

According to a recent local news report, officers responded to a two-car collision. Based on initial evidence, a Dodge Ram was allegedly speeding when it crashed into the back of a Dodge Caliber. When local authorities arrived on the scene of the accident, the Dodge Ram was attempting to leave the collision site. Police were able to successfully stop the Dodge Ram from leaving, which was occupied by two men and had significant front-end damage. The driver of the Ram was arrested for driving under the influence and transferred to the Maryland State Police department for further investigation.

The second vehicle, the Dodge Caliber, had three people inside. The driver and both passengers were transported to a local hospital for treatment of significant injuries. Local authorities believe that the driver of the Dodge Caliber may have been driving under the influence as well. As charges are pending for both drivers in the accident, the collision remains under investigation.

In the United States, the legal system addresses offenses with two different cases: criminal and civil. While there are many distinctions between these cases, many Maryland accident cases involve both criminal and civil charges. Typically, the differences involve the offenses, standard of proof, punishments and constitutional rights of those accused of an offense.

Generally, criminal cases involve crimes against society as a whole, even if the precipitating event primarily affected one person. For example, while a person may assault one individual, the law considers the assault an offense to society. As such, the state prosecutes these crimes, and the prosecutor files the case instead of the victim. In contrast, the wronged party files the case against the at-fault party in a civil case. Further, civil cases generally result in monetary compensation, whereas criminal cases may include fines in addition to incarceration.

Additionally, the civil system requires the plaintiff to establish their case by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means that it is more likely than not that the at-fault party engaged in the conduct leading to the lawsuit. Under the criminal system, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Moreover, criminal cases typically allow a jury trial, whereas a judge or jury may decide civil cases. Finally, the constitution provides a wide array of protections to defendants in the criminal system, much broader than those afforded in a civil case.

The pandemic decreased holiday travel the past few years; however, this year marks a return to some semblance of normalcy. Maryland drivers will likely experience more air, auto, and public transportation traffic during the holiday season. Maryland roads become busier starting around Halloween and through New Year, which results in additional road hazards.

This increase in travel combined with winter weather may increase the likelihood of an accident. While the number of crashes decreased on the actual holiday, the rate of accidents increased in the days surrounding the holiday. As such, motorists and passengers should take steps to avoid dangerous driving and protect themselves and others during this season.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that while many behaviors may lead to accidents, the holidays bring about additional driving hazards. The four most dangerous holiday driving behaviors include:

Impaired Drivers

Impaired driving is the cause of more than half of all car accidents. This type of driving refers to operating a vehicle while being affected by alcohol, prescription or illicit drugs, sleepiness, distractions, or a medical condition. Although many people assume that December 31st is the most alcohol-related accident, Halloween has three times more fatal accidents than New Year’s Eve.

Continue reading ›

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.

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.

Continue reading ›

The weather is getting colder, and the days are getting shorter, which also signals the beginning of the holiday season. While the holiday season is exciting and a source of joy and community for many, it can also be a dangerous time of the year for Maryland drivers. With an increase in family gatherings and alcohol consumption, as well as generally worse driving conditions in the wintry weather, Maryland car accidents caused by drunk or intoxicated drivers are especially concerning in the winter months. Although driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is against the law in Maryland, people unfortunately still do it all the time, leading to tragic and preventable car accidents.

For example, take a recent Maryland car accident that occurred last month in Churchville in Harford County. According to a local news article covering the incident, a Maryland man was driving home one night just after 8 PM with his fiancé and their two children, 7 and 11 years old. Tragically, on their way home, a driver in a Jeep crashed into the passenger side of their car, hurting his fiancé and his children. His fiancé and his daughter, only 7 years old, were both severely injured and had to be airlifted to Shock Trauma in a nearby hospital for emergency surgery. His fiancé suffered broken ribs and internal bleeding, but is out of the ICU now and expected to recover fully.

Tragically, however, one week later, the young girl was still in the ICU, heavily sedated in a coma and hooked up to a ventilator. Her injuries were substantial—the right side of her body was crushed, and she had multiple broken bones and a severe brain injury. Family and community members are waiting hopefully for a recovery. However, the injuries are so substantial that she will likely still have months of medical care ahead of her, even if she survives. While nothing has been confirmed yet, the police report created after the accident stated that alcohol contributed to the crash.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is very dangerous, not to mention illegal. Unfortunately, however, thousands of people still drive while intoxicated in Maryland every year, and many of them end up causing Maryland car accidents as a result. Driving under the influence is dangerous because alcohol and drugs impact your judgment, your decision-making, and your vision. Drunk drivers are more likely to make careless or even reckless driving maneuvers, run red lights, drive the wrong way down the street, or drive at speeds far above the speed limit. These actions can tragically have devastating consequences on the lives of other drivers.

For example, a drunk driver was recently arrested after causing a car crash that killed a mother and sent her two children to the hospital. According to a local news report covering the incident, the driver was driving in the wrong direction on the road when he collided with the victim’s car. She and her two children, ages six and eight, were all rushed to the hospital, where the mother tragically passed away.

This story is tragic, but unfortunately not all that uncommon. According to a recent report, Maryland has 308.7 DUI-related arrests per 100,000 people. The 2018 Maryland Highway Safety Plan reports that from 2011 to 2015, impaired/intoxicated driving caused one in three fatal crashes, one in ten crashes overall, and nearly one in ten crashes resulting in injuries.

Drunk driving remains an issue in Maryland, just as it does across the country. Due to the severity of the issue, in some states, social hosts and commercial establishments can be held liable for providing alcohol to guests if another person is injured as a result of a Maryland car accident. A recent decision a state appellate court considered whether a 19-year-old could be held liable after his friends drank at his home.

In that case, the 19-year-old defendant had friends over at his home where they all drank alcohol. His friends were also underage, but adults. Two of his friends, who were 19 years old and 20 years old, left severely intoxicated. The 20-year-old drove and crashed his car, and the 19-year-old passenger died at the scene.

The state’s supreme court considered whether an adult under the age of twenty-one had a duty to stop others from allowing underage guests to consume alcohol in their homes. The court decided that an underage adult may be held liable if 1.) the defendant knowingly permitted and facilitated the consumption of alcohol by allowing others to drink in his home; 2.) the defendant knowingly provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated underage guest or allowed the guest to drink there; 3.) it was reasonably foreseeable that the driver would leave to operate a motor vehicle, thereby putting others at risk; 4.) the defendant did not take any reasonable steps to prevent the intoxicated guest from getting behind the wheel of the vehicle; and 5.) the guest negligently drove and injured a third party due to his intoxication. In this case, the court decided that the defendant could be held liable.

In the tragic event of a crash caused by a drunk driver, victims have a range of damages available if they are successful in a lawsuit. A lawsuit against the driver (or others that may be responsible for the crash) permits Maryland car accident victims to recover damages for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, or special damages, are generally the out-of-pocket expenses that a victim incurs, including medical bills, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, transportation costs, future expenses, and others. Non-economic damages, or general damages, are other damages that do not have a fixed dollar value, such as emotional distress, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.

Maryland has a limit on non-economic damages available in civil cases. As of January 1, 2020, the limit available for non-economic damages was $830,000, although more may be available in some instances. There is no limit on economic damages. Economic and non-economic damages are known as compensatory damages, because they are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries they suffered.

Punitive damages also may be available in some cases. Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are not meant to compensate the victim, but rather to punish the defendant and to serve as a warning for others. To be awarded punitive damages in a Maryland DUI crash case, a plaintiff has to prove that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongful conduct. The plaintiff has to prove punitive damages by the higher clear and convincing evidence standard, while other damages have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff has the burden to prove damages as an element of the plaintiff’s case. The types of damages available vary depending on the person bringing the claim and the type of claim.

Contact Information