Articles Posted in Hit-and-Run Accidents

The only thing more stressful than a run-of-the-mill car accident is one where the at-fault party leaves the scene without providing any information. Sometimes, these hit and run accidents can have devastating consequences and involve significant property damage or injury to the party that was hit. When this takes place, hit and run accidents can often be extremely dangerous—especially when the at-fault party fails to help someone who was hurt at the scene and may need medical attention.

According to a recent news report, a Newark police officer was charged with reckless vehicular homicide after he struck a pedestrian with his personal vehicle and took the body home, where he consulted with his mother about what to do with it. The officer was off duty when his car slid into the shoulder of the road and struck the pedestrian. Neither the officer nor his passenger in the car contacted local police or provided aid to the pedestrian. Instead, the officer drove away and returned to the scene several times before placing the pedestrian’s body into his car and driving it home to his parents’ house. According to prosecutors, the officer and his passenger then discussed what to do with the body with the officer’s mother.

Eventually, the officer’s father called the police to report that his son had been in an accident. When local authorities arrived, they found the pedestrian’s body in the backseat of the officer’s vehicle. The prosecutor’s office noted that the pedestrian had died of blunt force trauma.

When a driver causes an accident by colliding with another vehicle, piece of property, or individual and then flees the scene without providing their personal information, a hit and run accident has taken place. Because these accidents can often leave victims with collecting compensation after they take place, those who are responsible should be held accountable.

According to a recent local news report, a 26-year-old man was recently struck and killed by a car. Maryland State Police are investigating the incident, which took place shortly after 3:15am when troopers were called in after a report of a person in the roadway and an overturned vehicle. Upon arriving at the scene, authorities located a pedestrian in the roadway, who was later pronounced dead.

Based on a preliminary investigation, authorities believe that the 26-year-old man was pulled over on the shoulder and outside of his vehicle when the crash occurred. A Chevy Silverado then struck the man and his vehicle, causing the Chevy to overturn and cross two lanes of traffic before the driver was able to escape. Witnesses at the scene provided a description of the at-fault party and claimed that the driver of the overturned vehicle fled the area on foot. The suspect was located 40 minutes after the accident and was taken into custody. Investigators believe that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the accident.

Recently, a fatal Maryland hit and run accident made headlines, reported by multiple news outlets including CBS Baltimore. According to CBS Baltimore, the crash happened around 3 PM one Thursday afternoon late last month. Maryland State Police said that a 49-year-old Baltimore woman was heading west on Route 50 near Nesbit Road when she tried to pass a box truck by using the left shoulder of the road. Unfortunately, she hit the box truck while trying to return to the road and then lost control of her vehicle. Her car went down an embankment, where it hit multiple trees before finally stopping. But the driver of the box truck did not stay on the scene, making this a hit-and-run crash, so named because one driver hit another (whether or not they were at fault) and then fled the scene. When officials responded to the scene, they transported the woman to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Hit-and-run accidents are infuriating for many Maryland drivers, particularly those who lose a loved one as a result. In fact, a hit-and-run is actually a crime in the Maryland criminal code. Because it is punishable through criminal law, many Maryland hit-and-run accident victims wonder if they can receive punitive damages—damages designed to punish the defendant—through a civil lawsuit against a driver who hit and ran. The answer, usually, is no.

Civil lawsuits, as opposed to criminal suits, are not meant to punish the defendant who caused harm. Instead, they are meant to make a plaintiff who suffered harm whole, and so typically the defendant is ordered to pay them monetary damages to put them back in as close to the same position as they would have been if the car accident had not happened. These damages typically cover medical expenses, both past and future, as well as lost wages, incidental costs, and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death action, they might also cover funeral and burial costs.

Maryland hit and run accidents can be incredibly frustrating for accident victims and their loved ones. Hit and run accidents are accidents where the at-fault party, flees from the scene of the accident, usually by driving away before any identifying information can be collected. Like all car accidents, hit and run accidents can cause serious injuries or even death. In hit and run accidents, the chance may be higher because, if someone is seriously injured or trapped and unable to call for help themselves, they may rely on the other party to do so. If the other party leaves the scene, it may be a while before emergency services are called in to help the victim.

For an example of a hit and run, take a recent Maryland accident that occurred on November 1st of this year. According to a local news article, the crash occurred around 1:30 AM, when a 17-year-old girl who was attempting to cross the street was hit by an unknown vehicle in Howard County. The vehicle that hit her left the scene. The victim was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she remained in critical condition until she tragically passed away.

Why Do Drivers Leave the Scene After an Accident?

When drivers run from the scene of a crash like this, their goal is usually to escape liability for the accident—particularly if they were intoxicated or someone was injured. However, by fleeing, drivers may find themselves in more trouble than if they had stayed at the scene. Maryland state law provides that leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury is a felony, which may carry a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The punishments are worse when the accident results in a death—up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In the case described above, the police are actively looking for the responsible driver, with a general idea of the type of car they are looking for and the damage likely on the vehicle. If and when the driver is identified, they may face criminal charges in addition to civil liability, and probably will be in a worse position than if they stayed at the scene.

Hit-and-run collisions occur when at least one individual involved in an accident leaves the scene before providing their identifying information or rendering any necessary aid to the others involved in the accident. Maryland hit-and-run accidents are one of the most devastating types of car accidents and often result in serious personal injury or death. According to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute in the United States. Maryland drivers who are involved in a hit-and-run accident should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Under Maryland Transportation Code § 20-102, drivers involved in an accident that result in bodily injury must immediately safely stop their vehicle as close to the scene of the crash as possible. If they have left the scene of the accident, they must return as soon as possible

Maryland drivers involved in an accident that results in a bodily injury or death must render reasonable assistance to any injured party. Reasonable assistance includes requesting medical aid if it seems necessary or if the injured party requests it. The drivers must provide their name, license information, address, and registration number to the injured person and the driver, passenger, or any other person involved in the accident. If no one can receive the information, the driver must provide information to the police. If a Maryland driver hits an unattended vehicle, they must still stop their car and offer this same information. In such cases, a written note left on the vehicle is sufficient.

In some Maryland car accident cases, the testimony from both sides is in direct contradiction, and the case ultimately boils down to the issue of credibility. That is, which party or witness presented the more convincing testimony and evidence. However, in some cases, one party may not have any evidence that directly contradicts the other side’s evidence, and instead presents circumstantial evidence supporting their position.

Circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an inference be made to reach the conclusion that the party presenting the evidence is asserting. For example, a defendant’s fingerprints left at the scene of a crime would be considered circumstantial evidence that the defendant had been present. In this situation, direct evidence would be testimony from a witness that saw the defendant at the scene of the crime.

A recent case illustrates the difference between circumstantial and direct evidence, as well as how an accident victim can use circumstantial evidence to help prove their case.

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Maryland hit-and-run accidents present a number of legal questions. Most often, these questions are answered by the courts after an accident victim files a claim against their own insurance company that is subsequently denied. Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving two defendants:  a hit-and-run driver listed only as “John Doe,” as well as the named defendant. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s choice of venue was proper, given the fact that neither the plaintiff nor the named defendant lived in the county where the case was filed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were traveling on a Georgia highway when an unknown motorist entered their lane of travel, causing them to slow down in order to avoid a collision. As the plaintiffs’ vehicle slowed, the defendant’s vehicle crashed into the back of the plaintiffs’ vehicle. The vehicle that cut the plaintiffs off drove off without stopping and was never located.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant who had struck their car as well as the hit-and-run driver who caused them to slow down in the first place. The plaintiffs’ claim against the defendant was that he was following too closely at the time. The case was filed in the county where the accident occurred.

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Hit-and-run accidents can be devastating. On top of the physical injuries and property damage sustained in the accident, there is often no party to look to for responsibility. This can leave an injured accident victim in a very unfortunate financial situation. Thankfully, under Maryland law, a driver’s own insurance company can be looked to for financial compensation, even if the hit-and-run driver responsible for the accident is never located.

This is exactly what happened in the recent case of Doe v. Pak. The case was filed by an accident victim, Ms. Pak, against an unknown hit-and-run driver, John Doe. Since Doe could not be located, Pak looked to her insurance carrier, State Farm, for the financial compensation she needed to cover her medical expenses.

Before the case even made it to trial, State Farm agreed to pay Pak $30,628 for her injuries. However, not satisfied with the offer, Pak turned it down and instead asked a court to decide what was fair. While the case was proceeding through the trial process, State Farm gave Pak the $30,628 amount as a credit toward any future award. The agreement in place at the time was that the amount was not an agreement to settle for that amount, but was merely a credit toward any future amount that may be awarded by the court.

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Earlier this month, police in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, were called to the scene of a hit-and-run accident at around three in the morning. According to one local news source, the hit-and-run driver waited at the scene until right before the police arrived and then fled the scene of the accident.

According to one eyewitness who was present at the scene, the driver exited his vehicle after the accident and pleaded with witnesses not to call police. He allegedly told them that he “isn’t drunk” and that he “would give them money” if they didn’t call the police. These same witnesses allegedly told police that they could smell alcohol on the man’s breath before he left the scene moments later.

Witnesses later told police that the driver crashed into several parked cars before disabling his own vehicle. One witness claimed that “it sounded like he bounced off the cars like a ping pong ball.” As the car approached the witness and his girlfriend, the man was forced to push his girlfriend out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.

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Earlier this month in Riverside, Maryland, an officer responding to a hit-and-run accident was involved in an accident, injuring himself and three others. According to one local news source, the police officer was responding to an altercation between the victim of a hit-and-run and the other driver. Evidently, the accident occurred on I-95, and the victim had followed the hit-and-run driver to his address, where an altercation between the two was underway.

The police officer was responding, with lights and sirens on, heading south on Route 543. As the officer approached the intersection of Route 543 and Route 7, a Mazda heading eastbound on Route 7 collided with the officer’s car. The driver of the Mazda and the police officer were both flown to Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore. The other two people injured in the accident were taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital, where they were treated for their injuries and released.

Police are currently conducting an investigation to determine who, if anyone, was at fault for the accident. Thus far, no charges have been issued by the police department.

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