Articles Posted in Fatal Traffic Accidents

Ridesharing company Uber employs thousands of cyber taxi drivers in states like Maryland and cities such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The company’s online ride-hailing service, like its competitor Lyft, has had a huge impact on the urban commuting landscape by making public taxi services available with just a press of a button on any smartphone. But while this relatively new way of catching a ride across Maryland and the surrounding area much easier, the risks to passengers is still the same as has always been when traveling in a taxi cab, rented limousine or other passenger vehicle available for hire.

Take, for example, a recent out-of-state report of a 40-year-old woman who was killed when the Uber vehicle in which she was riding went out of control and crashed, throwing the unbelted victim from the vehicle. This situation in North Carolina points up the potential dangers that confront any taxi passenger, not only those who ride in a Lyft or Uber vehicle.

Although we often hear about the risks involved with taking a taxi ride across town, it is not until one actually sees the results of a serious traffic accident that has taken the life of an innocent person that we begin to feel the gravity of such random and sometimes life-changing events here in the Baltimore area. Knowing that a quick cab ride can actually lead to a serious injury accident can serve to focus our attention on the aftermath of such a tragic incident and cause us to consider the long-lasting impact on victims and their families.

Texting while driving remains a serious issue throughout the country. Despite the seriousness of the issue, prosecutions of drivers remain rare, and proving that a driver was using their phone can be tricky in Maryland car accident cases. Without proof that a driver sent a message just before a crash, it can be hard to show that a driver was using their phone, including reading a text message.

According to a recent news report, a woman was recently convicted of vehicular homicide in a rare texting while driving prosecution. In that case, a woman was out for a walk during a break from her job when she was hit by a car. A driver believed to have been texting had rear-ended another car, which crashed into the pedestrian. The crash occurred at around 8:20 a.m. on a weekday in September. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide because she was texting while driving, and a jury recently convicted the driver after a trial. The case was believed to be the first in which a jury considered whether texting while driving could be considered akin to drunk driving.

The driver’s trial centered on whether the driver had been texting while driving. The driver had received a text asking her about dinner plans. The prosecution argued that she had read the text and had typed the letters “m” and “e” as part of her response. The driver claimed that she was not texting at the time of the crash. She said that she had typed those letters but did not remember when and was planning to call the person instead. The driver testified that she had looked down to turn on a window defogger and that when she looked up, the other car was “right in front” of her.

Wrong-way car accidents are often more devastating than most types of Maryland car accidents. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, wrong-way collisions are one of the most serious types of accidents that occur on highways. A recent study showed that such collisions are much more likely to result in fatal or serious injuries than other kinds of highway collisions. One study looking at wrong-way collisions on controlled-access highways found that the fatality rate was 27 times that of other kinds of accidents.

A study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that more than half of wrong-way drivers are impaired by alcohol. It also found that many wrong-way controlled-access cases begin when a driver enters an exit ramp. The NTSB study also found that nearly 80 percent of fatal wrong-way crashes occurred at night, between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

While each case is different, there are several potential defendants in a wrong-way car accident case. Of course, the wrong-way driver is often to blame, due to intoxication or another negligent act. The driver’s employer may be liable if the driver is driving for work purposes. Finally, a municipality can be liable if the road’s design or signs contributed to the crash in some way. Defendants and their insurance companies generally deny liability and try to point the finger at other parties. Building a strong case against all potential parties sets a plaintiff up for the best possible scenario.

When someone is involved in a Maryland car accident, they have the right to file a claim against any party they believe to be at fault for the accident. Typically, these personal injury claims are made against other motorists. However, when the named defendant has an auto insurance policy – as all Maryland motorists are required to have – the insurance company steps into the shoes of the at-fault motorist to defend against the accident victim’s claim. Thus, in most Maryland car accident cases, the plaintiff is actually going up against an insurance company, rather than the at-fault driver.

Unfortunately, it can be challenging for accident victims to work with insurance companies. This difficulty is illustrated in a recent opinion released by a state appellate court. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed in a car accident after he was involved in a verbal dispute with the defendant outside of a bar. Evidently, as the plaintiff was leaving the bar, the defendant ran him over, killing him. The defendant was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

The plaintiff’s family filed a wrongful death claim against the defendant, who was insured through the defendant insurance company. The policy limit was $20,000 for compulsory insurance and $480,000 in optional insurance. The insurance company paid the $20,000 but argued that the optional insurance coverage did not apply because the defendant’s actions were intentional, and intentional conduct was not covered under the policy.

Earlier this month, a Maryland car accident in Charles County resulted in one fatality and several injuries. According to a recent news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred on Route 6 in La Plata, around noon. Evidently, a Chevy Blazer was traveling eastbound on Route 6 near King Edward Place when the driver attempted to pass another vehicle on the right shoulder. As the driver re-entered the eastbound lane, she lost control of the vehicle, and it spun out, drifting into the westbound lane. At that time, a westbound SUV struck the Blazer.

As a result of the collision, the Blazer rolled at least once, ejecting the rear passenger. Emergency responders transported the passenger to MEDSTAR/Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. In addition, four other people were injured in the accident. Police are in the midst of an official investigation; however, at this early juncture, authorities believe that speed and driver error are the leading causes of the fatal accident.

Those recently injured in a Maryland car wreck can bring a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the party or parties they believe to be responsible for the accident. To successfully bring a negligence claim, an accident victim must be able to establish four elements:

The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) is a law that allows for Maryland accident victims to bring certain claims against the Maryland government based on the negligence of the government or its employees. Historically, Maryland accident victims were unable to recover compensation for their injuries from the government due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, the MTCA changed that, allowing accident victims to pursue claims for compensation provided they follow the procedures outlined in the MTCA.

Claims under the MTCA differ from other Maryland personal injury cases in two significant ways. First, a plaintiff bringing a claim under the MTCA must provide notice to the Treasurer within one year of the injury. This notice must contain the following:

  • The names and addresses of the people involved;

Maryland is known for its beautiful scenery and, as a result, its winding roads. These roads can pose a number of dangers to motorists, especially motorists who are in a hurry. Passing on Maryland’s snaking roads is dangerous, but on occasion, must be done. Motorists should take care when passing to avoid the risk of a Maryland head-on collision or another type of serious car accident.

Drivers should only pass when they have ample opportunity to do so. This means waiting for the right time. A motorist should not try to pass another car or truck unless:

  • They can see the other lane clearly enough to know that no other cars are coming;

When someone is killed in a Maryland car accident, their loved ones can pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. Due to the tragic nature of Maryland wrongful death cases, they can result in significant damages awards. Often, the damages awards are much greater than any single insurance policy. Thus, wrongful death litigants will generally try to recover under as many insurance policies as are available. This includes the accident victim’s own policy, under the policy’s uninsured/underinsured (UIM) provision.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion discussing some of the issues that can come up when pursuing claims under multiple insurance policies. In that case, the driver of a vehicle lost control and crashed, causing the passenger’s death. The passenger’s mother, the plaintiff, filed a personal injury claim against the driver and settled for the full value of the insurance policy. However, because the damages the plaintiff suffered as a result of her daughter’s death exceeded the amount available under the driver’s policy, she also filed claims under three insurance policies she held.

The defendant insurance company provided coverage under one of the policies, but denied coverage under the other two. The plaintiff filed a breach-of-contract action against the defendant, asking the court to compel the defendant to provide coverage under all three policies. The lower court entered summary judgment in favor of the insurance company, but on appeal, that decision was reversed. The insurance company appealed to the state’s high court.

In the tragic event of the death of a loved one, family members may be able to file a Maryland wrongful death claim against the person or entity at fault for their loved one’s death. In Maryland, the Wrongful Death Act permits certain family members to bring a claim for damages after the death of a family member. The Act is meant to compensate families whose loved ones have died due to the wrongful acts of another person or entity.

The Wrongful Death Act is also intended to compensate families for their own loss as a result of the decedent’s death. Therefore, it can be filed only by certain family members, rather than the decedent’s estate. Generally, the family members that can bring a wrongful death claim are a spouse, parent or a child. If the decedent does not have a spouse, parent or child, any other person who is dependent on the deceased accident victim and who is related by blood or by marriage can bring the claim.

A wrongful act under the Wrongful Death Act is an “act, neglect, or default” that would have allowed the decedent to file a claim and recover damages if the decedent had not died. Plaintiffs may be entitled to recover damages for “pecuniary” losses, as well as damages for pain and suffering, parental care, loss of companionship and guidance. In general, a wrongful death claim in Maryland has to be brought within three years of the date of the decedent’s death. There are several exceptions, however, and anyone considering filing a Maryland wrongful death case should consult with a dedicated Maryland injury lawyer.

In Virginia, like elsewhere in the country, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law. However, despite the known dangers and potential criminal consequences of drunk driving, there are approximately 7,500 Virginia DUI car accidents each year. Not surprisingly, roughly half of these accidents result in injuries and about 250 result in at least one fatality.

Virginia’s Wrongful Death Statute

When someone is killed due to the negligence of another, the surviving family members of the accident victim may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation against the at-fault parties. This is referred to as a Virginia wrongful death claim.

Under Virginia Code § 8.01-53, a wrongful death claim is brought by the personal representative of the accident victim’s estate for the benefit of the statutory beneficiaries of the accident victim. The statutory beneficiaries are the surviving spouse, any children of the deceased, as well as any grandchildren of the deceased (if the accident victim’s child is also deceased). If no person fits in the above category, the claim can be brought on behalf of parents, siblings, or any other relative who lived with the victim and relied upon them for support.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information