Articles Posted in Fatal Traffic Accidents

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.

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Earlier this month, a fatal Maryland car accident claimed the lives of five children and seriously injured two adults. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, all seven passengers were in a single minivan, and no other vehicles were involved in the crash.

Evidently, the accident victims were traveling northbound on Route 301 in a Chrysler Pacifica when, just before 5 a.m. the driver of the vehicle lost control of the minivan. The vehicle slid off the road into a wooded area, where it struck several trees before spinning out into a snowy field. When police responded, they found two adults in the driver and passenger seats. Both were seriously injured. All five of the children in the back, ranging in age from five to 15, had been ejected during the crash and were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.

Police began an investigation into the cause of the accident, but told reporters that it seems as though none of the children were properly restrained in the back of the minivan. However, the two adults in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts.

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Late last month, one woman was killed in a Maryland car accident that occurred on the side of Highway 50 near Route 410 in Prince George’s County. According to a local news report, the victim pulled over and got out of her car to assist another motorist who had lost control of their vehicle and crashed into a wall.

Evidently, shortly after the woman exited her car and was approaching the disabled vehicle, another car struck her. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency workers. The driver of the car that hit the victim was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Drunk Driving Accidents in Maryland

Despite countless government campaigns, motorists routinely get behind the wheel after having consumed too much to drink. In fact, in Maryland alone, there are approximately 170 people killed each year due to drunk driving. While the government often prosecutes drunk drivers, there is little that the criminal justice system can do to provide compensation to those who have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a Maryland DUI accident.

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While limousines are not a common form of transportation for most people, many find themselves occasionally riding in a limo for special occasions such as weddings, proms, or birthday parties. In addition, limousine touring has become increasingly popular as a way to more safely enjoy the Maryland wine country. Given the number of passengers a limousine can carry, Maryland limousine accidents have the potential to cause serious injury to a large number of people.

Earlier this month, a limousine accident in Upstate New York claimed the lives of 20 people, including everyone inside the limo and two pedestrian bystanders. Federal authorities have declared the crash as the deadliest in the United States in nearly a decade. According to a recent news report, the accident occurred in the early afternoon hours in Schoharie, New York. Evidently, a 2001 Ford Limousine approached a T-intersection at a high rate of speed, traveling through the intersection and into the parking lot of a restaurant. The limo then crashed into an unoccupied SUV.

Authorities noted that several people witnessed the accident, but it was clear from the physical evidence at the scene where the limo was coming from. It appears as though the roads leading to the intersection where the accident occurred are steep and offer only limited visibility of the approaching intersection. In fact, the New York Department of Transportation recently prohibited large trucks from using the road due to fears that the vehicles would lose their ability to brake effectively down the steep hill.

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It should come as no surprise that inexperienced drivers are responsible for a disproportionate number of Maryland car accidents. Indeed, according to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, there are approximately 15,800 accidents caused by motorists between the ages of 16 and 20 each year, resulting in about 87 deaths per year. This accounts for roughly 16% of all of the traffic fatalities in Maryland.

Maryland lawmakers have implemented a graduated licensing program to help ensure that those who drive on Maryland roads are properly educated and have the requisite amount of experience before getting behind the wheel on their own. First, new drivers must obtain a learner’s permit, and then a provisional license. And finally, assuming the new driver has passed all of the required tests and has been free of a traffic conviction, the new driver will be given a driver’s license.

While new drivers do have to jump through a number of hoops before they are able to obtain their license in Maryland, the fact remains that new drivers frequently cause car accidents. This may be due to a lack of experience, questionable judgment, distraction, or intoxication. In any case, the law does not excuse a driver from liability merely because they are new to driving. Those who have been injured in a Maryland car accident caused by a young or inexperienced driver may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to seek compensation related to the injuries sustained in the accident.

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Head-on collisions are some of the most serious accidents, due not only to the force involved but also to the direct impact. While there are many causes of head-on accidents, most of these accidents can be boiled down to one thing:  driver error. In cases of inclement weather, it is incumbent upon all drivers to make sure they reduce their speed to fit the weather conditions. This may mean traveling below the posted speed limit when rain, snow, or ice is present on the road.

When a driver fails to take adequate precautions and causes an accident, that driver may be held liable to anyone injured as a result of their negligence. This often includes the drivers and passengers of other vehicles, and it also includes passengers in the negligent driver’s vehicle. In tragic cases in which a head-on accident results in the death of one or more of the people involved, a wrongful death lawsuit may be one way that aggrieved loved ones can seek compensation for their loss.

Two Dead in Gaithersburg Head-On Collision

Earlier this month, two men were killed in a mid-evening collision involving three cars. According to one local news source covering the tragedy, the accident occurred on Airpark Road in Gaithersburg at around 8:00 p.m.

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Earlier this month in Baltimore, six people were killed and several others injured when a school bus collided with an MTA bus. According to one local news source covering the accident, there were no students on board the bus at the time of the accident, but the MTA bus did have several passengers on board.

Evidently, the accident occurred when the school bus was on its way to pick up the first students of the day. It was headed east on Frederick Avenue, shortly before 7 a.m., when it rear-ended a Ford Mustang. After the initial collision, the bus continued forward, crashing into a concrete pillar before it was sent into the driver’s side of the MTA bus.

Police arrived on the scene moments after the collision. A police spokesperson explained “it literally looks like a bomb exploded on the bus.” Investigators on the scene noticed that there did not seem to be any skid marks or other indications that the school bus had tried to slow down immediately before the collision. Police are unsure what caused the driver of the school bus to lose control but do plan on speaking to a surviving school aide who was on board the bus at the time of the collision.

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