Maryland car accident victims have to carefully build their cases to prove the elements of a negligence claim. In a recent decision from state appellate court, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed after a pedestrian was killed because the plaintiff failed to prove the driver acted negligently. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant left his home to go to work at a brewing company in another town. At around 5:30 a.m., as he was on his way, he was shifting lanes when he hit the plaintiff’s husband. The windshield of the car broke and flew into the defendant’s face, and he parked on the side of the road further down the highway. He walked back to the scene of the crash and saw the plaintiff’s husband. According to the defendant, it was dark out and he did not see the plaintiff before hitting him. The plaintiff’s husband died as a result of his injuries.
The plaintiff filed a wrongful death claim, alleging that the defendant was negligent in failing to exercise due care in driving his car, and striking and killing her husband. The plaintiff presented evidence from an accident reconstructionist who found that if the defendant was properly watching the road, he would have been able to avoid hitting her husband.
The court held that the plaintiff did not establish the required elements for a negligence claim. The court began its opinion by noting that in a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove four elements: a legal duty owed to the accident victim, a breach of that duty, a causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injury, and loss or damages to the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s breach of the duty.
The court held that in this case, there was no evidence that the defendant was driving in an unsafe manner. To the contrary, the evidence showed that the defendant was driving at or below the speed limit, with his headlights on in an area that was not well lit. There were no crosswalks for pedestrians, and a police officer testified that he “rarely” saw anyone cross the road in that location. Additionally, the crash occurred in the middle of the street, not at an intersection. Finally, there was no evidence the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The court noted that while drivers must exercise due care in operating a vehicle, a pedestrian also has a duty to exercise due care. The court noted that there was no evidence to contradict the defendant’s testimony that he did not see the man until it was too late to avoid hitting him. There was no evidence of any specific negligent act or omission by the defendant that was the cause of the man’s death. The plaintiff argued that the expert witness report provided evidence of negligence, the court stated that negligence cannot be presumed. There was no proof of negligence, and no proof that the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence. Rather, it was based on mere speculation. Therefore, the court dismissed the claim against the defendant.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Building a strong legal case with proof of all of the elements of the claim is essential to securing a settlement or a verdict in your favor. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our dedicated injury attorneys are eager to help Maryland car accident victims and their families. Set up a free initial consultation today by calling 1-800-654-1949 or by contacting us through the form on our website.