Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Every year, Maryland motor vehicle accidents cut the lives short of thousands of people in the state. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) reported 534 fatalities on Maryland roads in 2019. While the pandemic significantly reduced the traffic on the state’s roadways, reports indicate that fatal Maryland car accidents were up 12 percent from 2019 and 17 percent from 2018. The majority of Maryland traffic fatalities occur in Prince George’s County, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, and Baltimore City. Baltimore City likely experiences fewer fatal accidents because not many large trucks travel within the city limits.

The leading cause of fatal accidents is a result of an unsafe or sudden road or lane departure. Lane changes occur when a vehicle exits its lane and slams into another vehicle or object. These road and lane departures are connected to nearly 50% of all fatal accidents in the state.

For example, a recent local news report described a fatal two-car collision in Anne Arundel County. The accident occurred when a Chevy SUV driver tried to change lanes and was hit by Dodge Charger. The driver and passenger of the SUV died upon impact, and the other driver was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries.

Following a loved one’s unexpected passing, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. In fact, pursuing a lawsuit may be the furthest thing from your mind. Depending on the circumstances of the situation, however, a lawsuit may be the best course of action for you and your loved ones. Understanding how to recover following the loss of a loved one can often be a complex legal process, so getting a lay of the land of the implications the law could have on your case is essential.

According to a recent local news report, a teenager was recently struck and killed in a fatal tractor-trailer accident. Based on a preliminary investigation, Maryland State Police reported that the teenager ran into the middle of the road suddenly when he was struck by a passing tractor trailer. The teenager was found dead at the scene. The driver of the tractor-trailer remained at the scene and there were no other reported injuries. Maryland authorities are continuing to investigate the circumstances that led to the accident.

In Maryland, a wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of the negligent or reckless actions of another individual. Wrongful death claims are typically filed by relatives of the deceased and seek compensation for harm done to them as a result of losing their loved ones.

No one is ever ready to lose a loved one, especially not to an unexpected and sudden accident. When you lose a loved one out of the blue because of another party’s negligence or recklessness, it can be even more painful and frustrating, because it likely should not have happened in the first place.

According to a recent local news report, a pedestrian died after being hit unexpectedly in an accident. Maryland Transportation Authority Police reported that the victim, an unidentified man, died from his injuries at the scene. The accident remains under investigation as local authorities work to identify the party responsible for causing the accident and fleeing the scene.

In Maryland, if an accident like the one described above takes place and involves you losing a loved one, it is likely that you have grounds to bring a wrongful death or survival claim. Under Maryland law, a wrongful death takes place when it is caused by a particular act or neglect which would have allowed the deceased to bring a claim to recover damages if the death had not happened.

Maryland state troopers are looking into a recent Maryland roadside crash in which a AAA worker was killed while changing a tire. According to one news source, the AAA worker had just finished changing a flat tire on I-70 in Marriottsville when a pickup truck driver hit him and his work van. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the crash, including possible factors such as distracted driving and speed. The crash occurred at around 11:30 in the morning. The worker was wearing a safety vest and the emergency lights on the work van were flashing.

A AAA Public and Government Affairs Manager said that the crash highlighted the dangers that first responders, police, tow truck drivers, and EMS face every day on the side of the road while assisting others. A AAA representative reported that this was the sixth worker killed on the job within the last six months. A recent AAA survey found that 75 percent of first responders in Maryland report that drivers do not move over or slow down.

Maryland’s Move Over, Slow Down Law and Its Consequences

When Maryland drivers approach emergency, tow truck, law enforcement, transportation, and utility vehicles that are stopped, standing, or parked on the highway with their lights flashing, drivers must move over. If drivers cannot safely move over, then they must slow to a reasonable and safe speed considering the conditions. The law originally applied only to first responders and law enforcement but later expanded to include tow truck drivers. Violators of the law may be fined and may be charged with criminal charges in some cases. They also may be subject to civil lawsuits if anyone is injured as a result.

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State police in Maryland are investigating two fatal crashes that occurred on a recent weekend in Cecil County, Maryland, according to one news source. In the first fatal crash, according to a preliminary investigation, shortly before 10 pm on a Saturday night, a driver was driving a car southbound on MD 272 in North East, Maryland when she struck a pedestrian who was crossing the road. The pedestrian, a 39-year-old woman from Elkton, Maryland, died at the scene of the crash. Law enforcement was deciding whether any charges would be filed in the case. The second fatal crash occurred in the same area just a few hours later. According to a preliminary investigation, the crash occurred around 2 am when a Jeep Cherokee drove southbound in the northbound lanes on MD 272. The Jeep crashed into a Ford F-250 head-on which had been traveling northbound. The driver of the Jeep died as a result. He was 60 years old and was from Delaware.

Filing a Claim After a Fatal Crash

In the tragic event of the death of a loved one, the family members of the victim may be able to file a wrongful death claim against any parties responsible for the loss of the victim. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, certain surviving family members can file a lawsuit after their loved one’s death to seek to hold responsible parties liable and to seek compensation. A wrongful death claim may provide surviving family members with compensation for the losses suffered due to their loved one’s death, including loss of companionship, loss of financial support, and more.

In a wrongful death claim after a fatal crash, similar to other negligence lawsuits, the plaintiff has to prove: that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care; that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care by acting or failing to act in some way; that the defendant’s breach of the standard of care caused the victim’s injuries; and that the plaintiff suffered damages. A plaintiff has the burden to prove that it was more likely than not that the victim’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s conduct.

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Motorcycle accidents are one of the most dangerous incidents and often result in serious injuries and fatalities. According to the most recent statistics by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDT), Maryland motorcycle accidents accounted for about 2% of the total number of accidents in the state. However, motorcycle crashes comprised almost 15% of all the fatal accidents in the state. Moreover, four out of five of the passengers killed in these accidents were not wearing any safety equipment. In combination with the steady increase in motorcycle accidents, these startling statistics highlight the importance of motorcycle safety for both operators and passengers.

Motorcycle passengers and operators are more vulnerable to serious injuries because of the lack of protection from impacts with other vehicles or objects. Moreover, motorcycle passengers are often thrown from the bikes after a collision occurs. These situations can result in the passenger being run over by oncoming traffic, slammed into the concrete, or thrown into a guard rail or similar static object.

For example, a news report recently described a tragic motorcycle accident that involved a bike and a sedan. According to a preliminary investigation, the motorcycle crossed through a center line and slammed head-on with the sedan. Law enforcement reported that the motorcycle driver suffered serious injuries, and the passenger died.

Expert testimony is useful in many Maryland accident cases, and in some cases, expert testimony is essential. Under Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-702, expert testimony may be admitted if the court finds that the testimony will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. In determining whether to admit expert testimony, a court will consider whether the witness is qualified as an expert, whether the testimony is appropriate, and whether there is a sufficient factual basis to support the testimony.

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia considered whether a trial court properly excluded expert testimony in a wrongful death case arising from “an unexplainable single-vehicle accident” in which both occupants died. According to the decision, one morning, a tractor-trailer owned by a company left its lane of travel on a highway and rolled down an embankment in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The crash killed both of the occupants of the vehicle: an employee of the company, who was transporting fertilizer, and the plaintiff, who was a friend of the employee and accompanied the employee on the day of the crash.

The plaintiff (administrator of the friend’s estate) filed a complaint against the employer and against the administrator of the employee’s estate, seeking damages for wrongful death.

In Maryland, the Court of Appeals recently granted certiorari to determine what a plaintiff must prove in a Maryland wrongful death case to recover economic damages. The case arose after the plaintiff’s daughter died after receiving medical treatment from the defendant. A jury awarded the plaintiffs $1,000,000, which included $500,000 in non-economic damages and $500,000 in economic damages. The Court of Special Appeals vacated the economic damages award, and the woman appealed.

What Must a Family Prove in a Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a parent may recover economic damages for the loss of household services rendered by a deceased adult child. According to the appellate court, beneficiaries must meet a three-prong test to establish their right to economic damages arising from the loss of household services. Under the test, the beneficiary must:

  • Identify the market value of the domestic services,

Many Maryland residents go to and from work every day without ever experiencing any major accidents. Sometimes, however, accidents occur on the job, and employees will find themselves injured because of something that happened while they were working. These accidents can take many forms. For example, mailmen might get bitten by a dog while delivering mail, or they might trip while walking up to someone’s door to drop off a package. Grocery store workers might slip on a wet floor, or mechanics might get injured by faulty machinery. In many of these circumstances, the employee would be eligible to claim worker’s compensation and recover financially for their losses against their employer. In some cases, however, a worker may also be able to bring a third-party work injury claim to recover for the damages they have suffered.

What Is a Third Party Injury Claim?

Third-party work injury claims are filed by an employee injured on the job against a negligent party other than their employer—a third party. This type of claim is available when the injury was caused in full or in part by a party other than the employer.

For example, take a tragic accident from earlier this month. According to a local news report, the accident occurred around 7:30 one night at a Home Depot. A delivery driver (who did not work for Home Depot) was delivering construction materials when a load of drywall fell on him at the store, striking and ultimately killing him. Not much more is known about this incident right now, but it was clearly an unexpected tragedy.

The tragic thing about Maryland personal injury accidents is that they can happen instantaneously, in the blink of an eye, without any forewarning. While sometimes they may occur in more expected places—such as car accidents occurring while driving on the highway—there are sometimes where Maryland residents are injured, through no fault of their own, out of nowhere. These accidents can be incredibly frustrating for the victim and their families, as they are suddenly injured, have to pay medical bills, might miss work, and may deal with long-lasting physical ailments as well as mental and psychological pain.

For example, take a recent shocking Maryland accident reported by the Baltimore Sun. According to the news article, a car crashed through a front window area of the Parkville Crabs restaurant in Baltimore County one afternoon. It is believed that the driver accidentally hit the gas pedal in the parking lot, causing them to drive through the front of the restaurant unexpectedly. A 35-year-old woman inside was killed after being hit by debris from the crash. Investigators are still looking into the accident and working on an accident reconstruction to figure out exactly what happened, but believe that it was not intentional. Instead, it is thought to be just a tragic and unfortunate mistake.

This fatal accident is just one example of something that can happen unexpectedly and change a life in an instant. While nothing can undo the damage that these accidents cause, and there is no way to fully prevent each and every one from happening in the first place, Maryland state law does at least allow victims one course to recovery. Those injured can file what is called a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent individual or company who caused the accident.

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