A tragic head-on collision in the early hours of Saturday, January 28 took the lives of four people on a highway south of Crofton, Maryland. A Chrysler Sebring sedan driven by a 19 year-old with two teenage passengers was heading the wrong way on eastbound U.S. 50. The recent high school graduates were going home after a birthday party. A BMW driven by a 55 year-old warehouse manager was going east on the same road. Its driver was also going home after dinner with friends in Virginia. The cars collided at about 3:30 a.m., causing the Sebring to catch fire. The three teenagers were pronounced dead at the scene, apparently dying on impact. The other driver died in the ambulance and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Investigators think the Sebring may have crossed a median to turn around or taken an exit ramp the wrong way in order to head west in the eastbound lane. This suggests that they were going the wrong way for almost five miles before the crash. Multiple other drivers reportedly called 911 in the moments before the crash to report a car going the wrong way on the highway. At least one 911 caller suggested that the driver did not know she was going the wrong way after he narrowly avoided colliding with the car.
A preliminary toxicology report released on January 31 showed that both drivers had blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of .08 percent, although police did not state the precise amount found in the tests. Police also said they found a small quantity of marijuana in the teens’ car. Police still have not issued any statements as to the reason why the Sebring was traveling the wrong way on Route 50 or how it got into that lane.
Liability for the crash seems straightforward, since one car was traveling the wrong way with a driver allegedly under the influence. The fact that the other driver might have also been driving under the influence could mitigate fault somewhat, but probably not much. It remains to be seen if anyone will make a claim for wrongful death over the accident.
Some states allow for a business or individual to be held liable for a drunk driving accident if they served alcohol to the driver when the driver was visibly intoxicated. These are known as “dram shop laws,” their rationale being that a bar or social host who provides alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person should bear some responsibility for damage that person causes. Maryland law, however does not allow for any sort of dram shop liability. Any claim for damages over this accident would be difficult, as it would amount to one estate suing another estate without witnesses.
The Maryland accident injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people injured in automobile accidents on Maryland roads. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Traffic Cameras Seek to Deter Speeding, Promote Safe Driving, Maryland Accident Law Blog, January 23, 2012
Two Senior Citizens Killed in Benedict, Maryland, Car Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 20, 2011
Reduction in Car Accident Fatalities Among 16 Year-Olds Matched by Rise Among 18 Year-Olds, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 16, 2011
Photo credit: Crofton Parkway spring by MsCrof at en.wikipedia[see page for license], from Wikimedia Commons