When a driver flees the scene of an accident, they are leaving a victim helpless. Without stopping to provide aid to the victim, drivers who commit a hit and run are delaying the necessary medical intervention that could be the difference between life or death for the victim. Given the damage hit and runs can inflict on victims and their loved ones, drivers who flee the scene of an accident often face criminal charges. Additionally, hit and run victims or their families may bring a civil suit to recover damages for their injuries.
Recently, a news article reported that a series of hit-and-runs led to a pedestrian’s death in Prince George’s County, Maryland. According to Maryland state police, the victim had parked his vehicle on the side of the road to speak with his passenger. During their conversation, the passenger walked toward I-95. As the victim tried to pull her back, he was struck by a car, which then fled the scene. Then, as he lay injured, a tractor-trailer struck him. Like the first vehicle, the tractor trailer fled the scene. Finally, a third vehicle struck the victim. This time, the driver pulled over and dialed 9-1-1. After being struck three times by three different vehicles, the victim sadly died from his injuries.
What Are the Criminal and Civil Penalties for Maryland Hit and Runs?
Under Maryland law, if a victim dies after a hit and run, the driver is guilty of a felony. As punishment for this crime, Maryland imposes a maximum ten-year prison sentence or a $5,000 fine, or both. If the driver is a repeat offender, he or she could face a fifteen-year prison sentence or a $10,000 fine, or both. Additionally, a driver who flees the scene of an accident may also face civil fines in a negligence lawsuit. Even if a driver is convicted of criminal charges, a victim can still bring a lawsuit for civil damages.
To convict a hit and run driver in a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the driver is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the jury lacks any uncertainty about the defendant’s responsibility for the accident. By contrast, the burden of proof for civil cases is known as “more likely than not.” Under this lower standard, if the judge or jury finds it at least 51% likely that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the defendant is liable for damages. In Maryland, a plaintiff can bring a hit and run lawsuit within six months of learning the hit and run driver’s identity. However, Maryland law bars a plaintiff from bringing a suit if the hit and run occurred more than three years ago.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Hit and Run?
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or died in a Maryland hit and run, contact the Schupak Law Firm to talk through your options. The attorneys at our firm have extensive experience representing clients in Maryland personal injury cases. Following a motor vehicle accident, our attorneys have helped clients recover the damages they need to move forward. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our office at 240-833-3914.