Articles Posted in Hit-and-Run Accidents

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.

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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Earlier this month in Elkridge, Maryland, a pedestrian was killed after she was hit not once but twice by passing motorists. According to a report by the Baltimore Sun, the woman was walking on U.S. 1 around 4:40 in the morning when she was first struck by a 2002 Toyota SUV heading northbound.

That driver immediately pulled off to the side of the road to assist the pedestrian. However, before he could get to her, another passing car ran over the woman, who was still in the roadway. The first driver, who has been cooperating with police, told police that the second vehicle was a dark colored SUV.

The woman was pronounced dead by emergency responders shortly after their arrival. Authorities are refraining from disclosing her identity until they are able to notify her next-of-kin.

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