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When a loved one unexpectedly passes away because of an accident, you may feel overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do next. Although the path to healing is a long and complicated one for all who are involved, understanding the legal avenues you have available to you can be crucial for finding closure and receiving the compensation you and your loved ones deserve after an accident.

According to a recent local news report, Maryland State Police are investigating a multiple-vehicle crash that killed a local man and injured a pedestrian. Based on a press release from local authorities, troopers responded to a report of an accident involving five separate vehicles and a pedestrian at around 3:00 AM. A preliminary investigation found that a Dodge rear ended a Chevrolet, which led to a separate driver stopping his vehicle on the shoulder to assist with the accident. A Nissan then also crashed into the Dodge and hit the pedestrian. Separately, a Chevrolet also stopped at the scene before being struck by a GMC. The driver of the second Chevrolet was pronounced dead at the hospital. Local police are continuing to investigate the accident.

In Maryland, like other states, there are specific laws governing legal avenues for accidental deaths and compensation for these losses. Maryland defines wrongful death as one stemming from “an act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.” In simpler terms, this means that if the deceased could have brought a lawsuit against the at-fault party if they had survived the accident, then their relatives and loved ones have the standing to bring a claim upon their passing.

In Maryland, hit-and-run accidents refer to incidents in which at least one individual involved in a crash leaves the scene before rendering aid or providing identifying information. These crashes contribute to the pain and suffering and economic burdens of typical injury crashes but can aggravate the severity of a victim’s outcome. The delay or complete lack of medical attention for the victim can lead to deadly consequences. In addition to civil ramifications, those who flee an accident scene can face criminal charges.

An analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatal Reporting System (FRS) revealed an increase in fatal hit-and-run accidents. There are many individual, vehicle, and environmental factors that play a role in these accidents. Additionally, researchers apply two primary behavioral theories to drivers who commit hit-and-runs. Under the “rational decision theory,” drivers may decide to flee when they have the opportunity, the incentive, and the time to flee. For instance, drunk driving is more likely to occur at night or when there is limited lighting and fewer witnesses. Similarly, a drunk driver who commits an accident at night may take the opportunity to flee.

For example, a recent article reported on a 3 a.m. Hagerstown drunk driving accident where the driver may have been attempting to flee. Police explained that they saw the driver leaving the scene when they arrived at the accident. Police apprehended the vehicle on the ramp and arrested the driver with DUI. The second car’s driver and one passenger suffered life-threatening injuries. Further, emergency responders transported another passenger to the “shock trauma” unit. Early evidence suggests that both drivers may have been under the influence of alcohol.

Rear-end accidents refer to incidents when a rear vehicle’s front bumper collides into the back of the vehicle in front of them. While most Maryland rear-end accidents tend to occur at low speeds near stop signs, congested traffic, or stop signs, they can occur in any traffic scenario. Studies suggest that four primary factors, driver, vehicle, road, and environment, influence the likelihood and severity of a rear-end accident.

Driver factors include physiological and psychological characteristics that may affect the driver’s conduct. Vehicle factors include the performance and braking style of different types and grades of cars. The driving environment also impacts a drivers’ reaction time and visibility. Finally, road factors such as the maintenance and surface of roadways can impact the likelihood of a rear-end accident.

Fatal rear-end accidents include additional factors that may influence the likelihood of these incidents. For example, accidents involving improperly restrained occupants are more likely to result in a fatality. Additionally, the higher velocity of the subject vehicle at the time of the collision correlates with a higher fatality rate. Further, post-crash fires are linked to more fatalities.

Being involved and injured in a car accident is traumatic enough. However, the situation can be more complicated when the injured passenger knows the driver who caused the accident—and, in fact, the passenger was in the same car as the responsible driver. The injured person may not want to seek compensation or file a lawsuit, because it is a friend or relative who is liable. While this may be a common feeling, it is important to remember that anyone injured in a car accident has a right to seek compensation—regardless of who is responsible for the accident.

A recent car accident involving a Washington Football player led to the death of a 29-year-old woman. According to a news report, the deceased was the passenger in the car that the football player was driving in Virginia. The car struck several trees, rolled over, and then went off the right side of the road. The victim was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The driver is being treated for serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

In many situations, if a driver was injured in a car accident involving a stranger, they would not hesitate to bring a personal injury lawsuit. However, being involved in a car accident with a friend tends to stop people from bringing this suit. But it should not. It is important to remember when seeking compensation from a driver, the driver’s insurance company is the one who will often pay for any damages. People have insurance to cover accidents like this. This is a common misconception—that the individual personally will pay for the injured person’s recovery out of their own pocket. Instead, by filing a lawsuit against the driver, it ensures the injured person is compensated, but their friend or relative is not financially harmed in the process.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts periodic studies to improve road safety and accident prevention. Recently, the agency found that the United States had the most traffic fatalities since 2007. Amongst the list of most dangerous highways, the NHTSA found that the stretch of 1-95 near Baltimore, Maryland was home to a significant number of fatal accidents.

Although accidents can occur at any time, certain factors increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries. According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, specific roads, counties, and states present more risk factors to drivers. Generally, the agency designates a roadway amongst the most dangerous based on the number of fatal accidents on the roadway. Fatality rates are based on the number of traffic deaths per 100 miles for every highway in the country.

A critical finding of the study was that 1-95 is the most dangerous roadway in the country, specifically in major cities such as Baltimore, Maryland and Boston. The majority of the accidents occurred during the winter during inclement weather. Statistics indicate that there were 284 fatalities or 14.88 fatalities per 100 miles. While the pandemic brought a drastic downturn in daily traffic, the number of fatalities increased. In fact, there was a over 25% increase from 2019 to 2020 in vehicle-related fatalities.

Many children and teenagers throughout the United States, especially those who live in cities, walk to school or a bus stop daily. While walking is a healthy and enjoyable mode of transportation for many school-aged children, it can present a risk of a Maryland pedestrian accident. According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Maryland is the 7th most dangerous state for pedestrians. This ranking is startling for a small state. Following a harrowing accident on National Walk to School Day, safety advocates urge lawmakers to expedite their Vision Zero plan.

The Vision Zero initiative stems from the US Department of Transportation’s Mayor challenge. The program aims to reduce the rate of pedestrian accidents by improving bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. The plan falls under a common framework that emphasizes the “Five E’s.” The “Five E’s” are evaluation, engineering, enforcement, education, and encouragement of necessary systemic changes. Residents and advocates are asking government leaders to add in another “E”: exigency.

The urgency comes after a 29-year-old father was walking his two young daughters to school when a Jeep slammed into them. The father explained that he was dragged nearly 20 feet by the vehicle. His 8-year-old daughter suffered severe injuries to her leg that has confined her to a bed, and his 6-year-old daughter suffered severe facial injuries that will require extensive surgery. Additionally, the family is receiving therapy to help them cope with the psychological aftermath of the incident.

Maryland maintains one of the strictest contributory negligence laws in the country, and accident victims should hire an attorney to help them through the claims process. The state’s contributory negligence framework provides that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence bars them from recovering damages. In other words, a plaintiff who possesses even 1% of the responsibility for the accident will not be able to recover. As such, regardless of how straightforward an accident may appear, determining definitive fault after a Maryland accident is critical to financial recovery.

While Maryland law presents significant challenges to injury victims, there are some exceptions to the harsh contributory negligence statute. The three primary exceptions involve the last clear chance doctrine, seat belts, and rear-end collisions. The “last clear chance” doctrine refers to situations when the other driver had the last clear opportunity to avoid the accident. In these cases, the driver with the last chance to avoid the accident will be liable for the damages. Further, many defendants try and purport the injury victim’s seat belt usage as evidence of contributory negligence. However, in Maryland, a defendant cannot avoid liability by solely pointing to a victim’s seatbelt usage as evidence. Finally, the law generally imputes liability on the back driver in a rear-end accident. While defense attorneys may present evidence to establish the front-drivers negligence, these defenses require a significant amount of evidence.

Overcoming contributory negligence defenses is exceedingly challenging in multi-vehicle accidents because the exact sequence of events can be convoluted. For instance, reporters recently described a harrowing series of Maryland accidents. According to police, a Mitsubishi driver slammed into a vehicle and fled the scene. While fleeing from the first incident, he slammed into a Metro bus and then fled again, striking a school bus and a sedan. Emergency responders transported the Metro bus and school bus drivers to a local hospital. The Mitsubishi driver remains in critical condition at a different hospital.

Maryland continues to follow outdated and strict contributory negligence laws that pose many challenges to accident victims. First, the state is one of the few jurisdictions that permit contributory negligence as a defense instead of comparative negligence. Other states calculate damages by calculating damages in proportion to the amount each party was at fault. Injury victims are more likely to be fairly compensated for injuries under the comparative negligence model. In contrast, the contributory negligence theory creates an “all or nothing” approach, and injury victims cannot recover if they are even 1% at fault for their injuries. These accidents can cause significant injuries, and fair compensation is necessary. As such, Maryland injury victims involved in an accident, especially a multi-vehicle accident, should contact an attorney to ensure that they secure the compensation they deserve.

For example, Maryland State Police described a multiple vehicle accident that resulted in several fatalities. Troopers responded to a report of a head-on collision in Westminster, Maryland. An initial investigation revealed that a Camaro was traveling east when it attempted to pass another car. While passing the vehicle, the Camaro slammed into another sedan. The Camaro driver and passenger and sedan driver suffered fatal injuries. The occupants of the third vehicle involved in the accident did not require immediate medical treatment. The accident is still under investigation; however, authorities believe that excessive speed was a factor in the incident.

This case brings up another critical issue in that Maryland wrongful death operates as two claims. The first claim is the wrongful death action, which asserts damages the person suffered because of the deceased person’s absence from the claimant’s life. The second action is a survival action, which allows compensation to the victim’s estate for the damages the victim incurred because of the accident up until they died.

Maryland falls in line with other states and requires motorists to carry minimum car insurance coverage. Driving without car insurance in Maryland can result in various consequences to the at-fault driver and any accident victims. While the law prohibits motorists from driving without insurance, that does not deter many people from engaging in this illegal conduct. Getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist can create long-term medical and financial consequences for an accident victim.

The most recent accident data from Maryland shows that there were nearly 116,000 total car crashes in 2019. Approximately 33,000 of those accidents resulted in bodily injury, and over 82,000 accidents caused property damage. Maryland is an at-fault state, which means that drivers are liable for the damages they cause in an accident. However, while the state requires motorists to carry appropriate coverage, about 14% of the drivers in the accidents mentioned above were uninsured. These startling facts reveal that a significant number of accident victims likely did not recover adequate damages through an insurance claim.

While Maryland insurance laws require drivers to carry liability insurance, it is essential to note that this coverage only applies to at-fault drivers who cause injuries to others in an accident. The coverage does not protect a driver for the injuries or damages they suffered in an accident. Some motorists opt to add on additional coverage, such as collision, comprehensive, or medical coverage. However, these are optional and do not apply in every accident case and are not always beneficial to the party who needs coverage. For example, medical payments coverage covers the insured motorist and their passengers, regardless of fault, but does not apply to the other driver or their passengers.

Car accidents are an unfortunate yet common occurrence on Maryland and Washington, D.C. roadways. While a small number of accidents are genuinely the result of unforeseeable consequences, most accidents stem from some form of negligence. Determining liability and apportioning fault after a D.C. car accident can be a daunting task. However, it is a necessary inquiry that injury victims must go through to ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve. Maryland and Washington, D.C. accident lawsuits require a comprehensive and detailed understanding of complex tort laws. As such, injury victims should consult with an attorney to determine their rights and remedies after an accident.

Chain reaction accidents tend to be some of the most challenging cases. These accidents occur when an initial impact between two vehicles sets off a chain of subsequent accidents. The series of events ends when the final car does not slam into another vehicle, person, or static object. The fundamental nature of these accidents makes it very difficult to determine fault. While a single motorist’s conduct may have set the events in motion, there may be additional actions that contributed to the final accident.

For example, local news reports described a harrowing Maryland chain reaction accident that resulted in serious injuries to six individuals. The series of events started when one vehicle failed to see an oncoming vehicle. The first car slammed into the oncoming vehicle, which then spun around and crashed into another car. An initial investigation revealed that it is likely that another accident likely contributed to the chain reaction.

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