Articles Posted in Single-vehicle Accidents

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nevada issued a written opinion in a product liability case that will be of interest to anyone who is considering filing a Maryland product liability lawsuit. The case required the court to consider the defendant auto manufacturer’s argument that the risk-utility test should be adopted over the consumer-expectations test, which had long been the prevailing test for product liability claims. Ultimately, the court rejected the auto manufacturer’s request to adopt the risk-utility test and affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Wrecked CarMaryland courts apply the consumer-expectations test when evaluating a product liability lawsuit. This test requires courts to put themselves in the position of a consumer, asking whether the product at issue performed as expected under the circumstances. Some other jurisdictions apply the risk-utility test, which asks whether there is a reasonably safe alternative design that the manufacturer could have used rather than the design that was actually used. Under this test, it is the plaintiff’s burden to establish that the reasonable alternative exists.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving an SUV manufactured by the defendant, with her husband riding as the front-seat passenger. As the plaintiff attempted a lane change, the trailer she was towing began to fishtail, and the SUV flipped over, rolling several times. When the vehicle came to a stop, it was resting on its roof. The plaintiff was able to slip out of the window, but her husband was crushed. The plaintiff filed this product liability lawsuit against the auto manufacturer, claiming that the SUV’s roof was not sufficiently tested and was defectively designed.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Hawaii issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by the occupants of a vehicle that was struck by rocks that fell onto the highway during a rock slide.

RockslideThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were driving on a Hawaii highway when a rock slide occurred, and debris contained in the slide struck their vehicle. At the time, Hawaii had a system to rate various roads that are at risk of being affected by rock slides. The area where the plaintiffs were injured was known as an area with the highest risk level. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the government was negligent in failing to address the area and implement measures to prevent a slide from occurring.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the government, finding that while the government was negligent, the government’s negligence was not the cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to show that had the government taken action, the slide would have been prevented. The court also determined that the government was entitled to immunity because the decision to have a rock-slide mitigation system was a discretionary one. The plaintiff appealed.

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Earlier this month, the Vermont Supreme Court issued an opinion in a personal injury case affirming the lower court’s decision that a landlord who leased his property to a tenant was not liable when the tenant’s horse escaped and caused an accident.

horse-1563686In the case, Deveneau v. Weilt, the plaintiff was injured when he was involved in a single-car accident after crashing into a horse on the highway. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against both the horse’s owner as well as the man who leased land to the animal’s owner. In a pretrial motion, the landowner asked the trial court to dismiss the case against him, because he had nothing to do with the horses, and only leased the land to the horse’s owner. The trial court agreed that there was insufficient evidence to hold the landowner liable, and dismissed the case against him.

The plaintiff then appealed the decision to the Vermont Supreme Court. On appeal, the court noted that this was a case of first impression, meaning that the exact issue had never come up before. However, the court ultimately agreed with the landowner and affirmed the dismissal of the case.

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Earlier this month, a Montana court dismissed a plaintiff’s claim based on the fact that the plaintiff failed to introduce evidence of the applicable standard of care to which the defendant’s conduct could be compared. In the case, Not Afraid v. Montana, the plaintiff was paralyzed after the vehicle he was riding in as a passenger collided with and then crashed through a concrete barrier, ultimately sliding down a steep hillside.

the-curve-1-1370321Several years after the accident, the man filed suit against the State, County, and City governments, alleging that negligence in the placement and maintenance of the concrete barriers contributed to his injuries. Most relevant was the plaintiff’s claim against the City, which was charged with maintaining that particular section of roadway.

The Plaintiff’s Case

The plaintiff claimed that the City was negligent in the placement, installation, and maintenance of the concrete barriers. To support his claim, the plaintiff submitted a four-page report prepared by an accident-reconstruction expert. That report concluded that the vehicle the plaintiff was traveling in was likely going about 45 miles per hour when it collided with the barrier, and “the barriers were relatively ineffective in containing higher speed vehicles traveling around the curve.”

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Two years ago, actor Paul Walker was killed in a car accident when the Porsche he was riding in as a passenger crashed on a California road. According to one national news source following the lawsuit filed by Walker’s daughter, Porsche recently filed a request with the court to dismiss the case against the company, arguing that Walker’s death was his own fault for getting into the car on the day of the accident.

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Evidently, the filing claimed that Walker’s death was the result of his own “comparative fault,” since he knew and assumed the risks involved with getting into the car. The filing claimed that Walker “knowingly and voluntarily assumed all risk, perils, and danger” involved with riding as a passenger in the vehicle, and the vehicle he was riding in was “abused and altered” and improperly maintained. Porsche claims that Walker was aware of these facts when he got into the passenger seat that day, and by doing so he knew the risks involved.

A representative for Walker’s daughter told reporters that Walker was a “passenger in a car that was not designed to protect its occupants, in a crash on a dry, empty straightaway in broad daylight and at speeds well below the vehicle’s advertised capabilities.” He also claimed that, had the car been manufactured with the proper safety features, Walker would likely still be alive today.

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Earlier this month, a five-year-old girl was killed and her nine-year-old sister seriously injured when the children’s mother veered off the road and into another vehicle. According to a report by the local NBC News affiliate, the accident occurred at around 5:30 in the afternoon around the 3600 block of North Franklintown Road at Leakin Park in West Baltimore.

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Evidently, the two children were riding in the car with their mother when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into another nearby car. Both children in the car were taken to the hospital. The five-year-old girl was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival, and her nine-year-old sister was admitted in serious condition. The driver of the other vehicle sustained only minor injuries.

Police are still in the process of conducting their official investigation. However, they did tell reporters that the roadway was wet and slick at the time of the accident, and the specific section of road where the fatal accident occurred is particularly curvy.

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Earlier this month, the driver of a mail truck was taken to the hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries after he was involved in a serious single-vehicle accident on Annapolis Road. According to a local news report, the male driver was between 25 and 30 years old, although his name was not released at the time of the article’s publication.

mail-truck---lomo-208422-mEvidently, the mailman was driving westbound on Annapolis Road near the intersection of Highbridge Road. As the mailman approached the intersection, another driver was in the process of making a left-hand turn in front of the mailman. Believing that he was going to crash into the turning vehicle, the mailman swerved to avoid the collision.

As he swerved out of the car’s way, he lost control of the mail truck, which flipped over and then crossed into the median. The man was taken into the hospital with life-threatening injuries and is still in critical condition. Police are still investigating the accident, attempting to glean as much information from the scene of the accident as possible. They have also asked any potential witnesses to come forward with any pertinent information.

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Earlier this month, a Maryland man was arrested and charged with murder for his role in the drunk driving death of a passenger after he was involved in a DUI accident. According to a recent Washington Post article, the driver admitted to police that he had consumed at least two beers and a shot of cognac before getting behind the wheel that fateful night.

car-crash-1432754-mEvidently, the accident occurred on a road with a speed limit of just 25 miles per hour, but police claim that the driver was traveling well in excess of that speed when he slammed into a parked tractor-trailer. After crashing into the parked truck, the driver got out of his vehicle and pulled out his unconscious passenger by her arms. He began to shake her until another passenger in his car told him to stop. At this point, he dropped her, and she hit her head on the pavement.

The woman was taken to the hospital, where she died about a half-hour later. Prosecutors charged the driver with second-degree murder, claiming that the driver acted “with the intent to kill another . . . and with a conscious disregard of an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury to another.”

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Earlier this week in Camp Springs, a single-car accident resulted in the death of one woman after the car she was riding in took the ramp too quickly and ran off the road. According to a report by WUSA9, the driver of the vehicle fled the scene of the accident after crashing the car, but he was soon after apprehended by police in the woods nearby.

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Evidently, the accident occurred just before three in the morning on the ramp from southbound Route 5 to Allentown Road, in Camp Springs. The driver of a Dodge Charger was traveling too fast and lost control as he entered the on-ramp. He eventually crashed into a light support pole, which caused the car to catch on fire.

The driver of the car got out immediately and started to run through the nearby woods, presumably to evade the police. However, they caught up with him a few minutes later not too far from the scene of the accident.

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Earlier this week in Montgomery County, a fatal single-vehicle accident claimed the life of one teen and injured two others. According to a report by CBS DC, the accident occurred in Olney, near Hines Road and Macduff Avenue.

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While police are still piecing together the facts from the accident, they believe that around one in the morning a Chrysler 200 convertible was heading east on Hines Road when it suddenly left the roadway and struck a tree before reaching Macduff Avenue. After crashing through the tree, the car continued across Macduff Avenue, crashing into a street light pole and a telephone box before rolling over and finally coming to a rest.

The car was being driven by a 17-year-old and had two other teens as passengers. The teen in the back seat of the Chrysler was ejected during the accident and was taken into the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, shortly after being admitted to the hospital, the young boy succumbed to his injuries.

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