Articles Posted in Fatal Traffic Accidents

When a Maryland car accident occurs, one of the first questions everyone has is “what happened?” Did a car malfunction? Did a tire suddenly blow out, were some taillights not working, or did the emergency brakes fail to work? Perhaps there was debris in the road or an animal that caused one vehicle to swerve. Or, there may have been a driver error—a distracted or intoxicated driver, for instance. There are many possible causes of Maryland car accidents. But one that often is not thought of is road rage—when drivers act aggressively and perhaps recklessly while on the road.

Road rage may take a few different forms. A driver may actually yell at others, make angry gestures, or honk repeatedly when they feel frustrated on the road. They may start tailgating other cars, aggressively trying to get them to drive faster. Cutting off other cars and trying to block them from changing lanes are both road rage behaviors, and in some intense situations, an angry driver may even hit another car on purpose. Understandably, road rage can lead to serious Maryland car accidents, injuring or even killing others.

For example, a recent Maryland crash is thought to have possibly been caused by road rage. And, unfortunately, it led to the death of a 21-year-old girl. According to a news report covering this accident, the crash occurred around 1 AM one morning over Easter weekend on I-95 North near exit 52 for Russell Street. Three cars were involved in the crash. The victim was driving a red Honda Civic, and there was also a white truck and a white car. Officials believe that road rage may have caused the crash—they think that something happened between the victim’s car and the white truck, which caused her to spin out onto the highway. Since she was then sideways in her Honda Civic on the highway, the white car hit her directly in the driver’s door. Unfortunately, she did not survive this accident. Her family is of course grieving this tragic loss.

Most people never expect that they will get into a head-on Maryland car accident. These accidents—where the front ends of two vehicles collide—are always shocking and can be incredibly dangerous. By following the basic rules of the road and driving in the proper direction and in the correct lanes, most drivers can avoid these collisions. But sometimes, circumstances outside of the driver’s control occur, and they find themselves hit head-on by another car. In many circumstances, because these accidents involve hitting vehicles close to the driver’s and passenger’s seats, these accidents can be fatal or result in life-changing injuries.

Take for example a recent fatal crash on I-95 implicating four vehicles, and killing three people. The crash was caused when one vehicle went to great lengths to avoid the police during a police chase. According to a local news article, a Dodger sedan, traveling north on the interstate, reached speeds as high as 80 miles per hour when state troopers tried to pull the vehicle over. However, the driver of the Dodge sped away, and police eventually ended their pursuit due to the significant traffic on the interstate. The Dodge continued north, and ultimately entered the Express Lanes only open to southbound traffic by breaking through three lighted Express Lanes gates. While in the Express Lanes, the Dodge hit a pickup truck head-on, causing it to flip over the guardrail. Two other cars then crashed into the Dodge, which caught on fire.

In the aftermath of this tragic accident, three people were reported dead. The driver of the Dodge was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, a 26-year-old woman, died after being ejected from the car. Additionally, a 61-year-old man driving one of the other vehicles involved in the accident also died at the scene. Other drivers and passengers involved suffered injuries, with one being transported to the hospital for treatment. The aftermath of the crash was so intense that portions of the interstate were shut down for almost seven hours, causing major traffic delays.

After being injured in a car crash, victims will often wonder if they are partially to blame for the accident. While this is often not the case, it can still be worrying. If a victim wants to bring a lawsuit against the responsible party in Maryland, they can bring a personal injury suit. However, Maryland is one of the few remaining states that rely on the doctrine of contributory negligence—meaning, if the plaintiff negligently contributed to his injuries, he cannot recover damages. Although this may then seem like a lost cause for many potential personal injury cases, personal injury attorneys are skilled at explaining to juries why their client was not at-fault for the accident that resulted in their injuries.

Earlier this month, a Southern California crash between an S.U.V. and a tractor-trailer has led to at least 13 deaths. According to a recent report, an S.U.V. and tractor-trailer collided on a California highway after the S.U.V. had crossed a fence from the U.S.-Mexico border. The S.U.V. pulled in front of the truck at an intersection, where they then collided. Investigators are still unsure what caused the collision. However, the S.U.V. had over 20 people inside the vehicle and all of the accident victims were in the S.U.V.

For individuals injured in similar car accident cases in Maryland, they victims want to bring charges against the responsible party. However, when it is unclear who is at fault for the accident, recovering can be a real challenge, especially when the others involved in the accident claim the injured motorist was at fault. Because contributory negligence is the law in Maryland, plaintiffs’ attorneys in negligence cases are prepared for defendants who assert the plaintiff is also at fault for the injury. Plaintiffs’ attorneys will examine their client’s case and assess whether there are shortcomings in their argument. This often involves an extensive discovery process—interviewing many witnesses, obtaining video evidence of the accident, and finding people who can speak about the plaintiff’s character. While this may seem time-consuming—and defendants do not often argue the plaintiff is partially responsible for the accident—it is worth it to ensure the plaintiff is prepared for this argument if it arises in court.

Last month, tragedy struck in Montgomery Village, when a 36-year-old man—a husband and a father—was killed in a Maryland car accident. According to a recent news report, the incident occurred early one morning. The man and his stepson were on their way to work, driving separate cars, when his stepson got into a minor crash on I-95 near Maryland Route 32. He pulled over to assist in the accident and check the damaged vehicle, allowing his stepson to continue on to work. While he was on the side of the road checking the damage, a Honda Civic came speeding by. A witness says the car seemed to be driving 100 miles per hour, despite the wintry conditions on the road. Unfortunately, the car lost control and hit one of the cars on the side of the road. The impact of the crash pushed the second car forward, and essentially pinned the victim between the two cars. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim leaves behind two stepchildren and two young daughters, ages 4 and 10, as well as a fiancée. He and his fiancée were planning on getting married last year, but because of COVID-19, they pushed their wedding date to May, which would have marked 14 years together. The family is, of course, heartbroken, struggling with the tragic loss of their fiancée and father.

Losing a loved one unexpectedly is one of the hardest tragedies a person can face. Unfortunately, hundreds of Maryland residents experience that heartbreak every year as a result of Maryland car accidents. In fact, in recent years there have been over 500 deaths on Maryland’s roads annually. Recognizing that families mourning in the aftermath of fatal car accidents may also be struggling financially to recover, Maryland state law gives them the option to file wrongful death lawsuits against whoever caused the crash that led to the fatality.

Many Maryland car crashes are not straightforward and some cases involve many parties. Knowing who is to blame is not always clear, which is why so many insurance companies and defendants fight back. Oftentimes, defendants will try to lay blame on the victim in order to relieve themselves of liability. This is an especially useful strategy for defendants in Maryland, because the state follows a law that can be very harsh for car accident victims who are partially at fault.

If a Maryland plaintiff is found to be even partially at fault for an accident, the plaintiff cannot recover compensation from any other parties. This doctrine, known as contributory negligence, is no longer followed by the majority of states, but Maryland is among the few states that continue to apply it. The state legislature has continued to uphold the doctrine despite much criticism of the doctrine. The majority of states in the United States follow a version of comparative negligence. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, a plaintiff may still recover some compensation even if the plaintiff is partially at fault, though some limit the plaintiff’s fault to 50% or less.

If a case goes to trial, a jury (or judge, in some cases) will consider the plaintiff’s fault while it is considering the defendant’s fault and decide whether the plaintiff is partially at fault. However, the defendant must provide evidence of the plaintiff’s negligence and has the burden to prove each element of a negligence claim to show that the plaintiff acted negligently. In addition, a court will only provide a jury instruction and allow the jury to consider the plaintiff’s fault if the defendant sufficiently establishes that the plaintiff was negligent. And just as any defendant, the plaintiff can defend against claims that the plaintiff acted negligently by submitting arguments and evidence in their defense.

Maryland car accidents happen every day. In fact, car accidents happen every day, all day, all across the nation—some of them minor, some fatal. Most of these accidents go unnoticed by the general public; maybe they see them while driving by, or know someone involved, but generally, most are unknown to the average Maryland resident. Every so often, however, there occurs a major car accident that makes national news. And tragically, just after the New Year began, one of those accidents occurred in California, killing 9 people.

According to the New York Times, which covered the accident, the crash occurred around 8 PM local time on State Route 33, and involved an SUV (2013 Dodge Journey) driven by a 28-year-old man. The man was traveling southbound. As the driver approached a 2007 Ford pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction, he suddenly veered onto the dirt shoulder, lost control, and veered back onto the road, across the center line. According to the California Highway Patrol, this caused a head-on collision with the pickup truck. The pickup truck, driven by a woman of unidentified age, became “fully engulfed in flames,” and all 8 occupants of the truck were killed. Seven of these people were children, ranging from 6 to 15 years old. The driver of the SUV was also killed.

When tragic events like this happen, it is natural to wonder who is responsible for causing these deaths. Indeed, officials responding to the scene of the crime always try to figure this out, since there is a possibility that criminal charges may be filed. Right now, the investigation is underway. Officials are trying to figure out whether or not alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash. Additionally, they made public the fact that the pickup—carrying 8 people—was only equipped with 6 seat belts. When people are not buckled up, the chances that they will suffer serious injuries in a crash are “far greater.”

In the tragic event of a loved one’s death, certain family members may hold responsible parties accountable through a wrongful death claim under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act. To file a wrongful death claim after a Maryland car accident, in general, a spouse, parent, or child may file the claim. Normally for a claim involving a car accident death, the claim must be filed within three years of the person’s death. If no spouse, parent, or child exists, another person may file the claim who is related to the person by blood or by marriage and who was substantially dependent upon that person. A wrongful death claim is meant to compensate family members for their loss and hold wrongful actors accountable after their loved one’s death.

Only one wrongful death claim can be filed after a person’s death. Qualifying family members may be able to recover financial compensation for their emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of parental, and other damages. Family members may have to defend against claims that their loved one was negligent and contributed to their own death, which would bar recovery even in a wrongful death claim.

One state appeals court recently considered a wrongful death claim against a driver and his mother after a young girl was tragically killed in a car crash. On New Year’s Day in 2016, a 17-year-old boy was driving the girl and another passenger home after a New Year’s party. The driver accelerated to 80 miles per hour in a 25 to 30 mile-per-hour zone, lost control of the car, and crashed. The driver and the other passenger survived, but the girl died in the crash. The girl’s parents sued the driver and the driver’s mother, who owned the car, for wrongful death (the passenger was also sued but dropped from the suit).

Maryland car accidents, unfortunately, occur every single day, and can be caused by a variety of different things. Usually, they are caused by someone making a mistake while driving. As we have written about previously on this blog, small careless errors can sometimes be the difference between life and death, and can cause tragic Maryland car accidents. The errors may include running a red light, swerving into the other lane, getting momentarily distracted, and then failing to brake when needed, or making a turn without the right of way. While we write a lot about these causes, we wanted today to focus on another contributing factor to Maryland car accidents: debris in the road.

For example, consider a recent Maryland car accident that occurred earlier this month. According to a local news report, the accident occurred in Montgomery County on northbound Interstate 270 near the I-370 interchange. Around 10:30 one morning, a blue Nissan Rogue struck some debris in the road—believed to be a chair—and then stopped on the left shoulder. The driver, a 34-year-old woman from Frederick, got out of the car and walked toward another driver who had also pulled over after avoiding the debris. Tragically, she was then struck by a Toyota Corolla that had swerved to avoid traffic. She was killed as a result, and the driver of the Toyota was rushed to Holy Cross Hospital, where his condition is unknown. As a result of the accident, much of the interstate was shut down for hours. An investigation of the crash is ongoing.

This story illustrates the danger of debris in the road—especially on highways. While sometimes the debris may be from falling trees or branches or other natural causes, it can also occur when individuals driving do not properly secure items in their vehicle. In this case, for example, the chair in the road had probably fallen out of someone’s car or truck earlier because they had not secured it, or had not made sure the trunk was fully closed. Maryland drivers must take extra precautions to avoid risky driving maneuvers like swerving or running stop signs and make sure that their vehicles and the items within them are not a danger to others. Failure to do so could result in serious—and even fatal—Maryland car accidents like this one. When these accidents occur, those injured can file a personal injury lawsuit under state law to recover financially for the damages they incurred.

When someone pictures a car accident, they usually picture two cars crashing into each other while driving. While this is often the case, and describes many Maryland car accidents, it is important to remember that crashes can occur even when one party is not driving. For example, car accidents may occur when one car crashes into a parked car, or a car stopped at a stoplight, or even into something other than a car such as a light post or traffic sign. This is why it’s important for Maryland drivers to always stay aware of their surroundings while driving.

Take for example one recent Maryland car accident that occurred on I-83 in Baltimore County one Saturday morning. According to a news article covering the incident, a 32-year-old woman was driving a black Dodge Dart along the highway when she pulled over to the right shoulder to tend to a child sitting in the back. As the driver opened the rear passenger side door, a white Toyota Tacoma struck the rear of the Dodge, crashing into it. Tragically, a 7-year-old boy—one of the passengers in the Dodge—was killed as a result. The driver and two other children—a 9-year-old girl and a 9-month-old infant—also suffered injuries due to the crash.

This case illustrates how immensely a single family can suffer as a result of a Maryland car accident. Assuming that the 32-year-old woman and the three children in the car were related, it means that one family is now mourning the loss of a 7-year-old child while three members are also recovering from their own injuries—injuries which may require future surgery, physical therapy, or specialists. For one family, dealing with medical bills and expenses while simultaneously making funeral and burial arrangements can be overwhelming and cause significant psychological despair, not to mention financial strain.

Most drivers know that if they drive recklessly or carelessly, they risk getting into a Maryland car accident and hurting themselves. Driver’s safety school teaches the basic principles of accident avoidance, such as staying aware while driving, never driving while under the influence, and following all traffic rules. While these are all good habits to avoid getting into a car accident and getting hurt or killed yourself, it is important to remember that driving safely is not just about you. Maryland car accidents can, and usually do, have impacts on other people—whether they be passengers in the driver’s vehicle, individuals in another vehicle, or even pedestrians on the road. Maryland drivers should be sure to always drive cautiously to avoid harming others, as well as themselves.

Recently, a tragic Maryland accident illustrated what’s at stake when driving carelessly. According to a news report from the Baltimore Sun, the accident occurred in Baltimore, on Howard street downtown one morning. Around 7:30 a.m., a sedan was driving when it failed to stop at a red light and instead drove onto the Howard Street tracks. The sedan was struck first by a southbound Baltimore Light Rail train, and then additionally a second northbound train.

One witness described how the sedan became sandwiched between the two trains—“one hit them this way; the other hit them that way.” First responders were needed to extricate the driver and the passengers. The woman in the car was tragically pronounced dead at the scene. The 7-year-old child and 30-year-old man fortunately survived but were taken to a local hospital with severe injuries. But the accident did not just harm those in the sedan—the operator of the southbound train was also taken to the hospital with injuries. At this time, it is unclear whether anyone else was hurt.

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