Articles Posted in Multi-vehicle Accidents

Lots of Maryland families travel for the Independence Day weekend. Whether driving to a barbeque, a firework show, or to the shore for the long weekend, holiday travel carries a higher risk for involvement in a motor vehicle accident. In fact, statistics show that the Fourth of July weekend is the deadliest weekend of the year in terms of roadway fatalities.

This year, on the Friday before Independence Day, Maryland police responded to a rush-hour crash in which two people were injured. According to reports, both vehicles in the accident incurred substantial damage. Apparently, both drivers in the two-car accident were trapped in their respective vehicles until firefighters arrived to extract them. Although one of the drivers was treated locally, the other driver required air transport to a shock trauma unit.

After the accident, police temporarily closed the roadway to reconstruct the scene. Although information about the status of the drivers and the cause of the accident has not yet been released to the public, these details may become available in the coming weeks and months.

After a Maryland multi-vehicle accident, determining who caused the crash can be difficult. In some cases, there may be multiple contributing causes of the crash. If a plaintiff files a Maryland negligence against one or more defendants involved in the crash, the plaintiff must show that a defendant’s wrongful action or inaction was a cause-in-fact and a legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Cause-in-fact means proving that a defendant’s conduct actually caused the injury, whereas legal cause means proving that a defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injury.

If two or more independent negligent acts caused the plaintiff’s injuries, Maryland courts will determine whether a defendant’s conduct was a “substantial factor” in bringing about the plaintiff’s injuries. Even if a defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries, the harm must have been sufficiently related to the defendant’s negligent conduct. That is, Maryland courts will consider the foreseeability of the harm and the relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the harm. Maryland courts may decline to hold a defendant liable due to policy considerations and fairness. In addition, because Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, if a plaintiff is found to be even partially at fault for their own injuries in a Maryland negligence case, the plaintiff cannot recover compensation in court. Maryland is one of the few states in the United States that continues to apply the doctrine of contributory negligence. This means that plaintiffs often have to defend against claims that they were negligent in order to succeed in court.

The plaintiff must prove all elements of the case, including causation, by a preponderance of the evidence—that the defendant’s actions were more likely than not the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff may prove the case through either direct or circumstantial evidence and the plaintiff must identify specific actions or inactions of the defendant that were negligent.

Recently, a major Maryland car accident made headlines when a two-year-old girl, a passenger in one of the cars, was thrown from her vehicle into the Assawoman Bay. According to The Baltimore Sun, the accident happened on a Sunday afternoon earlier this month. The cause of the multi-vehicle accident is still unclear, but witnesses report that on Route 90 in Ocean City, a pickup truck seemed to lose control before it spun, hit a concrete barrier, and flipped over a guardrail. The truck hit a BMW, which propelled it towards another car. The car swerved, and the BMW then crashed into another vehicle.

One of the drivers got out of his car to check on the driver of the BMW, and then ran over to help a man trying to get out of the pickup truck hanging off the side of the bridge. Once he was freed, he pointed to the water toward a car seat and a toddler floating on her back, kicking, before she rolled over and was face-down in the water. At that point, the driver of the car jumped into the water to save the toddler, who spit up a lot of water. A boat came and picked him and the girl up, and she was flown to Baltimore hospital. Seven other people associated with the crash were also treated at the hospital, but fortunately, no one was killed.

This unbelievable story made headlines, and at a press conference, the rescuer was publicly thanked, and the Ocean City Mayor commented on how fortunate it was that everyone survived. However, although the media attention will soon fade, the long-term impacts of these crashes can last months if not years. Even when the injuries do not seem too serious at the time, many individuals involved in Maryland car accidents find themselves sore and dealing with pain long after the crash occurs. Some individuals may find themselves needing physical therapy or to visit a chiropractor to deal with the impacts.

Maryland car accidents happen every single day. Sometimes, they involve just one car, which might hit a tree, a sign, or even a pedestrian. Other times, they may involve two cars or vehicles, usually with one car hitting another. In some cases, however, Maryland car accidents may involve three or more vehicles, usually because one crash leads to a chain reaction of events and crashes, involving several vehicles outside of the original crash. These accidents can be devastating for Maryland drivers and their families, as many people can be seriously injured or even killed in the blink of an eye.

For an example of a chain-reaction, multi-vehicle crash, take a recent Maryland accident. This tragic six-vehicle car accident occurred earlier this month, unfortunately leaving one man dead and two others injured. According to a local news report covering the incident, the accident occurred around 2:45 PM on Maryland Route 32 in Dayton, Maryland. While the investigation of the crash is ongoing, given how recently it occurred, the police say that the preliminary investigation indicates that a Ford pickup truck was traveling north when it crossed the center line of the road and struck an oncoming dump truck. The dump truck then crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a Chevrolet pickup truck, which overturned. Additionally, the original Ford pickup truck continued into oncoming traffic, hitting a car head-on. A Jeep SUV traveling behind the car struck both the car and the Ford pickup truck, and a Toyota SUV was also struck by one of the other vehicles involved. Overall, six different vehicles ended up involved, all due to one driver crossing over the center line.

The driver of the car, which was hit head-on by the Ford pickup truck, was a 50-year-old Cooksville man, tragically pronounced dead at the scene. Three others were injured. A passenger in the car was taken to the Shock Trauma Unit of the hospital with serious injuries, where she was reported to be in critical condition. The driver of the dump truck was also taken to the hospital, though fortunately, his injuries were non-life-threatening. As a result of the crash, the section of Route 32 involved was closed for about six hours.

Most people do not think about the possibility of filing a Maryland personal injury lawsuit until they need to—until they themselves get injured in an accident. A common catalyst for these lawsuits are Maryland car accidents, which are unfortunately all too common and occur every day. Some of these accidents are somewhat predictable and common—perhaps a driver runs a red light, or a drunk driver swerves into the wrong lane. While these accidents are tragic, they are also pretty usual and expected—driver’s education courses teach Maryland drivers to be on the lookout for these risky behaviors which would lead to accidents.

Other accidents, however, are less predictable and, frankly, quite unusual. Take a recent tragedy that occurred just last month. According to a news article covering the incident, a pickup truck was driving southbound one morning, around 11 am, when it unexpectedly crossed the median and northbound lanes before leaving the road and crashing into a house. Tragically, one person inside the house was killed. The driver of the pickup truck was also injured, and taken to the hospital in serious condition. It is unknown what caused the driver to leave the road and crash into the house—the crash is still under investigation.

Regardless of how the Maryland car accident happens—whether it’s a slight fender-bender or someone crashing into a house—the state allows those injured as a result to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover for the damages incurred. These lawsuits are civil, meaning the defendant in the case (usually the driver who caused the accident) will not face any jail time or criminal charges as a result. Instead, if they are held liable for the accident, they will likely be ordered to pay the plaintiff (the injured person who brought the suit) for the costs they incurred as a result. The goal is to make the plaintiff whole, as close to as if the accident had never happened as possible. So if the plaintiff had to pay $100,000 in medical fees and expenses as a result of the accident, then the court may instruct the defendant to pay the plaintiff $100,000. In tragic cases like the one described above, when someone dies, their family or estate may be able to bring the suit instead. In this circumstance, they can also recover for funeral and burial costs, in addition to any medical expenses or other costs.

Any Maryland negligence claim requires proving that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, that the defendant breached that duty, that the plaintiff suffered an injury or loss, and that the damages proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of the duty. The legal relationship between the breach of duty and the injury is known as proximate cause. Under Maryland law, to establish proximate cause, the plaintiff must show that the negligence was both the cause in fact of the injury and a legally cognizable cause.

Cause in fact refers only to whether a defendant’s actions actually caused an injury. Whether there is a legally cognizable cause considers whether the injury was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s negligent actions. The issue becomes whether the injury to the plaintiff was within the general field of danger that the defendant should have expected or anticipated. Legal cause often requires a consideration of policy considerations and whether a defendant should be held liable under the circumstances. Generally, proximate cause must be decided by a jury (or a judge if the judge is the trier of fact), unless there is only one possible inference that can be drawn based on the facts of the case, or unless “reasoning minds cannot differ.”

Foreseeability is also a consideration in determining whether a duty exists in personal injury cases. In a 1985 case that is still cited today, one Maryland judge explained that “courts have given further effect to the social policy of limitation of liability for remote consequences by narrowing the concept of duty to embrace only those persons or classes of persons to whom harm of some type might reasonably have been foreseen as a result of the particular tortious conduct.”

In some cases, a presumption of negligence can work in a party’s favor. However, presumptions can also work against a party. For example, in rear-end collisions, in many states, there is a presumption that the rear driver was negligent. Maryland courts have found that in Maryland rear-end collision cases, if a vehicle is lawfully stopped while waiting for traffic to clear and that vehicle is rear-ended by another car, the operator of the car that rear-ended the stopped vehicle is presumed to have been negligent. However, the presumption is rebuttable, and the burden of persuasion remains with the plaintiff. Thus, a plaintiff still has the ultimate responsibility to prove that the defendant was negligent, which includes establishing all the elements of negligence.

In addition, Maryland courts have found that in the case of a rear-end collision that occurs after the first vehicle stops, there is no presumption that the rear driver was negligent, unless the rear driver had the opportunity to stop after the need to stop became apparent. Under Maryland Code section 21–310(a), a driver cannot follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, considering traffic, the speed of the other car, and the conditions on the road.

Court Directs Verdict Against Rear-End Driver Despite Jury’s Verdict

Before a document can be admitted in evidence in a Maryland injury case, the court must determine if the document is genuine and true. Courts refer to this as authentication. Maryland Rule 5-901 provides that authentication is satisfied “by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.” For example, a witness can testify that another person signed a contract in order to prove the authenticity of a signature on a document. A witness might also be able to testify as to the authenticity of a signature through testimony that establishes that the witness is familiar with the person’s signature.

Even if a document is properly authenticated, documents must still be admissible under hearsay rules. Maryland Rule 5-803(b)(6) concerns the admission of business records under Maryland law. Under the rule, a business record can be admitted if it is proven the record was made “at or near the time of the act, event, or condition, or the rendition of the diagnosis,” was made by a person with knowledge or from information given by a person with knowledge, that the business regularly made and maintained such a record, and that the record was made and maintained in the course of the regular course of business. This rule applies to businesses and associations, whether or not they are for-profit or not-for-profit. A recent case considered whether a medical record was properly admitted in a personal injury case.

In that case, the plaintiff was a passenger in a car when the car was involved in an accident with another vehicle. The plaintiff sued the drivers of both cars for injuries she claimed were caused by the crash. The case went to trial, and the jury found in the plaintiff’s favor on liability but awarded her no damages, so the plaintiff appealed. She claimed that her prior medical records should not have been admitted into evidence because they were not authenticated.

Under Maryland law, a party in a personal injury lawsuit may present testimony from an expert witness only in certain circumstances. That being the case, expert witnesses do not testify in most Maryland car accidents. However, there are cases where the need for an expert witness arises. Typically, this is when a case presents complex medical or scientific issues that are beyond the scope of a typical juror’s understanding. A recent case illustrates a situation in which the court held that the plaintiff’s claim required the testimony of an expert witness.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was involved in a chain reaction car accident. Evidently, one motorist collided with another driver, whose vehicle then struck the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff was transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released later that day. The record does not indicate the treatment that the plaintiff received at the hospital.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against two of the other drivers involved in the accident. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged injuries to his neck, head, back, right foot, right ankle, right hip, both shoulders, and both knees.” The plaintiff presented the testimony of medical experts to establish the extent of his injuries.

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Earlier this month, a Maryland car accident involving three vehicles claimed the life of one woman and injured several others. According to a local news report, the accident occurred in the evening hours on Route 238 and Asbury Road, in Denton.

Evidently, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was traveling eastbound when it inexplicably crossed over the center line and into oncoming traffic. As the Jeep entered oncoming traffic, it struck a Toyota head-on. The Jeep then rolled over and struck a nearby GMC truck, which was also traveling westbound.

Several injuries were reported among the passengers in the Jeep. The driver and one of the passengers in the Toyota were taken to the hospital as well. However, one of the passengers in the Toyota sustained fatal injuries.

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