Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Earlier last month, a California court heard a case against the County of San Diego brought by an accident victim who was injured when he was struck by another motorist on a roadway he claimed was poorly designed. In the case, Hampton v. County of San Diego, the court ultimately determined that the government’s sovereign immunity was not waived, and as a result it was immune from the lawsuit.

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Hampton v. County of San Diego: The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a man who was seriously injured when he was involved in a collision with another motorist on a rural intersection. The man filed suit against the other driver in an unrelated case, in which he admitted he could not remember if he stopped at the stop sign prior to entering the intersection. The other driver testified in that case that the plaintiff pulled out “right in front of him, leaving too little time to stop before the collision.” The Highway Patrol conducted an investigation and determined that the accident was caused by the plaintiff’s failure to stop at the stop sign.

After that lawsuit, the plaintiff filed this case against the County, claiming that it designed and maintained a dangerous roadway. Essentially, the plaintiff claimed that the design and construction of the road provided inadequate visibility of oncoming traffic due to a high embankment that was covered with vegetation.

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Earlier this month, a California appellate court issued an opinion in a case between accident victims and the insurance company of the at-fault driver. In the case, Nationwide National Insurance Company v. Shimon, the at-fault party’s insurance company was determined not to be liable for the injuries sustained by the accident victims because the policy did not cover “non-owed” automobiles that were “furnished or available” for the driver’s regular use.

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The Facts of the Case

The Shinons (“the Plaintiffs”) were injured as a result of the negligence of a 17-year-old girl, Lionudakis. At the time of the accident, Lionudakis was driving a GMC that was owned by and registered to her father. However, to save money, her father did not list her on the insurance policy.

Lionudakis’ mother, who was separated from Lionudakis’ father, maintained a separate insurance policy that covered her own vehicles, but not the GMC. The policy did, however, cover family members’ use of “non-owned” vehicles, as long as they were not furnished for the family members’ regular use. This restriction was contained in the insurance agreement.

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Late last month on Halloween, two vehicles collided head-on in Glen Burnie, killing both drivers. According to one local news source, the accident occurred on Solley Road near where it meets Chestnut Springs Lane. The fatal accident claimed the lives of both drivers, and the three passengers involved in the accident were also seriously injured.

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Evidently, three teenage friends were driving in a Nissan on Solley Road, heading to a Halloween party. At some point, another Nissan approaching in the opposite direction inexplicably crossed over the center line and collided with the Nissan carrying the three teens. After the initial collision, the vehicle that crossed over the center line flipped on its roof and continued to slide down the highway until it collided with a third vehicle.

In the end, both drivers of the Nissan vehicles were dead. Two teenage passengers in one of the vehicles, as well as the woman’s husband in the other Nissan, were all taken to the hospital. Since the accident, all of the injured parties have been released from the hospital.

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Earlier this month in Thurmont, Maryland, one man was hit and killed by a hit-and-run driver as the man was pulled off to the side of the road to assist another motorist whose car had broken down. According to one local news report, the man was a Marine who had served since 2013 and was recently promoted to the rank of corporal.

road-3-1449262Evidently, the Marine had pulled over on the side of Route 15, near where it meets Auburn Road, at around 10:50 in the evening, to help a stranded motorist. While he was on the side of the road, not far from where his vehicle was parked, a truck towing a car veered off the highway and into the median, striking the Marine and his vehicle.

While the driver has yet to be located, and an investigation is still underway, police believe that the driver of the truck came to a stop about 100 yards from the scene of the accident. However, as good samaritans arrived to help the accident victim, the driver of the truck sped off. Police told reporters that they found track marks in the grass near the scene that they believe belonged to the truck, and they are confident that the vehicle is a dual axle truck that was towing a smaller vehicle.

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Earlier last month in Baltimore, one man was seriously injured when his vehicle was hit by another motorist who was allegedly fleeing from police after they found out he was operating what they believed to be a stolen vehicle. According to one local Baltimore news source, police were first flagged down by a civilian who reported that a car was stolen. Police began following the car but had to stop because traffic conditions were heavy, and the pursuit became too dangerous.

Traffic LightEvidently, a few moments later, a different police officer who was stopped at a red light saw the same car run a red light and then crash into a building around Fallsway and Gay Streets. Sometime between the time when the first officer lost sight of the man and when the second officer saw the man run the light, the fleeing motorist collided with another vehicle. Details of that collision are not known at this time, but that man was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Once the red-light-running motorist crashed his vehicle into the building, he allegedly got out, stole a bicycle from a nearby cyclist, and began to flee the scene. It was not long until police were able to catch up to the man and arrest him.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of California heard a case that was brought against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that the negligent design in the city’s roadway led to injuries and deaths that were preventable had proper care been taken in the road’s design. In the case of Cordova v. City of Los Angeles, the negligent driving of a third party caused the plaintiffs’ vehicle to crash into a magnolia tree that had been planted in the center median by the City of Los Angeles. The case proceeded not against the negligent driver whose actions led to the accident, but against the City itself for the allegedly dangerous condition.

magnolia-7-1487063According to the court’s opinion, the case arose after the driver of a Nissan Maxima was hit by another motorist and pushed off the road. As the car left the roadway and entered the median, it struck a large magnolia tree that was in the median. Four of the five people inside the car died as a result of the collision, and one was seriously injured. The parents of three of those inside the car brought a lawsuit against the City, alleging that the tree was dangerously close to the road.

At Trial and On Appeal

The issue at trial was whether the magnolia tree constituted a “dangerous condition” on public property. Both the trial court as well as the appellate court determined that the tree was not a dangerous condition because, among other things, it did not cause the accident. The appellate court noted that there was no allegation that the tree made an accident more likely by obstructing the view of motorists or anything along those lines. The courts both looked at what caused the accident, rather than the added danger that the tree may have presented.

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Earlier this year, the Baltimore Sun published an article lauding the fact that Maryland traffic accidents hit a 66-year low in 2014, with a total of 442 deaths. According to the article, this figure is about half of the highest number of traffic fatalities in one year, which was 772 recorded back in 1968.

financial-crisis-1093355-mThe article points out a number of interesting trends. For example, the following types of accidents are less common than they were several years ago:  drunk driving, speeding, and aggressive driving.

With that said, the report indicates that drunk driving is still responsible for one-third of all fatal Maryland car accidents. Other types of accidents are becoming more common, including:

  • Accidents involving older drivers,
  • Motorcycle accidents,
  • Distracted driving, and
  • Accidents where the victim was not wearing a seat belt.

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Recent reports regarding the Maryland police officer who died in a car crash last month revealed that he had alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. A prominent news source has reported that the officer was killed when he was taking his girlfriend to her home in the early hours of the morning.

Evidently, the officer was off duty, but he was attempting to stop a speeding vehicle. He was speeding when he came around a curve in Lanham, Maryland. Unfortunately, he was not able to control his vehicle, and he ended up hitting a wooden fence.

dpd-157593-mInvestigations revealed that the officer had a blood alcohol level of about .07; the legal limit is .08 in Maryland. Additionally, he was driving around 106 mph and slowed to about 65 mph right before the accident. Although the officer was off duty, they believe that he was going to call in a traffic stop because he switched his radio on. Apparently, a new investigation has also made clear that the officer’s girlfriend was in the car with him at the time of the accident. Fortunately, she did not suffer any serious injuries.

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Earlier this week, a fatal rear-end accident on Route 50 took the life of one man and injured four others. According to a report by the Capital Gazette, the accident occurred around 2:45 in the afternoon last Saturday.

crash-1-1406893-mEvidently, a Nissan X-Terra was heading east on Route 50 when it came up on a line of cars that had stopped due to an accident up ahead. The driver of the X-Terra did not see the stopped cars in time and—although he tried to swerve at the last minute to avoid a collision—crashed into the rear of a Toyota Corolla. The force from the accident slammed the Corolla into a nearby Jeep.

The Corolla had three people inside. The two in the front of the car were flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center with serious injuries. The man in the back seat was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Two people in the Jeep suffered minor injuries but declined treatment.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a case brought by two accident victims based on the fact that they did not raise an “issue of fact” as it pertained to proximate cause. The court determined that the plaintiffs failed to show that there was sufficient evidence that the defendant’s negligent acts were the cause-in-fact of their injuries.

mountain-road-1435240-mThe Facts of the Case

In the case, Piltch v. Ford Motor Company, the Piltches were seriously injured when their 2006 Mercury Mountaineer hit a patch of black ice, slid off the road, and crashed into a nearby wall. None of the cars’ airbags deployed during the accident. The Piltches filed suit against the manufacturer of the vehicle, claiming that under state law the vehicle was defective. They argued that they should be compensated for their injuries because the fact that the airbags did not deploy resulted in them sustaining more serious injuries than they would have had the airbags worked properly.

However, at trial the Piltches failed to present any “causation” evidence from an expert, meaning that they were relying solely on circumstantial evidence that the fact that the airbags didn’t deploy worsened their injuries.

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