Earlier last month a University of Maryland student lost his life while crossing the street in Prince George’s County. According to a report by the Washington Post, the student had recently returned from a study abroad program in Australia and was looking forward to graduating with a degree in kinesiology in May.
According to the report, the student was crossing Baltimore Avenue shortly before 2 a.m. when he was struck by a dark sedan. The student was apparently not crossing at a designated cross walk in an area that students frequently cross when coming home from nearby restaurants and bars.
The driver of the car did not stop and assist the student and instead continued on. Sadly, the student was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead later that day. Also later that day, police found the vehicle that was involved in the crash. As they were piecing together the evidence, the driver of the vehicle came forward and identified himself.
Hit and Run Accidents and Punitive Damages in Maryland Courts
Victims of Maryland auto accidents are entitled to monetary damages to compensate them for their medical expenses, future medical bills, as well as for any pain and suffering caused by the accident. In some cases, however, where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious and lacking of moral character, the defendant may also be required to pay what is called “punitive damages.”
Punitive damages are designed to deter certain behavior which society deems harmful and morally reprehensible. In Maryland, the plaintiff must satisfy a number of procedural requirements before punitive damages are available, such as asking for punitive damages from the outset of the case. In order for a plaintiff to be awarded punitive damages, the plaintiff must also show that the defendant was acting with “actual malice.”
Over the years, Maryland case law has had an opportunity to address what “actual malice” consists of. It used to be that actual malice could be found where there “a wanton or reckless disregard for human life;” however, Maryland law now require the plaintiff prove show that the defendant’s actions were characterized by “evil motive, intent to injure, ill will or fraud.” Although this restricted the availability of punitive damages in some Maryland personal injury cases, such damages are still available in certain situations.
Hit and run accidents are exactly the type of malicious, morally repugnant behavior that can give rise to punitive damages.
What To Do if You Have Been Involved in a Maryland Auto Accident
If you have been involved in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary damages. Depending on the facts of your case, there may also be the availability of punitive damages. To find out more about the availability of punitive damages, you should speak to an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney immediately. As mentioned above, punitive damages must be plead early in order to preserve any future right. To speak to an experienced Maryland car accident attorney, call 410-645-3600 today, or click here.
More Blog Posts:
Pedestrian Killed in Prince George’s County Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 20, 2014.
Should Interlock Ignition Devices Be Required for Drunk Drivers?, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published January 6, 2014.