The Maryland State Police, a former Howard County police officer, and a state trooper are among the 11 parties being sued for the wrongful deaths of two teenager who were killed in an accident involving a tractor-trailer and a non-working traffic light in Jessup, Maryland last January. In two separate lawsuits, Roger and Nancy Caplan, the parents of Scott Caplan, 19, and William and Linda Howard, the parents of Theresa E. Howard, 18, are asking for $5 million in damages.
Theresa Howard and Scott Caplan had been traveling in a Volvo going westbound on Route 175 when a tractor-trailer exiting southbound on 1-95 hit their vehicle. The traffic light at the intersection was not working at that time. According to the lawsuit filed, even though a Howard County police officer and a Maryland State police trooper had visited the intersection when the light was out, both of them failed to supervise the intersection or let drivers know that the light wasn’t working.
Defendants in the lawsuit include State trooper Raymond A. Hale and then-Howard County police officer Patrick Egley (the two men who visited the intersection and were aware of the nonworking light), Maryland State Police, the state of Maryland, Meghan St. Martin (the person who was driving the Volvo), Gary Lee Dicks (the truck driver whose truck hit the Volvo), and the five transportation companies who subcontracted work to Dicks.
St. Martin, The driver of the Volvo, also filed a lawsuit for $300,000 against Dicks, the trucking company that hired him, the state of Maryland, Howard County, and Officer Hegley. Dicks has been charged with negligent driving and failing to yield to oncoming traffic on a highway.
In a wrongful death claim, the person who is considered responsible for causing another person’s death due to their negligent actions can be sued for wrongful death.
Usually, the people who can file a wrongful death suit are:
· The child or children of a parent(s) that has died.
· The parents of a child who has died.
· A husband or a wife who has lost their spouse.
In certain states, legal dependents, grandparents, and other kinds of relatives can file.
A wrongful death suit can be filed against a wide variety of people, such as:
· A criminal who caused the wrongful death.
· The manufacturer of a defective product that led to the wrongful death.
· The driver of a vehicle responsible for a wrongful death-related accident.
· The state—if their negligent actions led to a wrongful death.
· The police or fire department—if their actions or nonaction led to a wrongful death.
· The owner of a pool where someone drowned because there was no supervision.
· A doctor whose failure to make a diagnosis led to someone’s death.
Family members, however, cannot sue another member for wrongful death unless they are not blood relatives.
The amount of damages that can be brought and the settlement amount that can be reached will depend on the laws of the state where the wrongful death occurred.
If you would like to find out more about the laws pertaining to wrongful death cases in Maryland and Washington D.C. or you would like to speak with an attorney regarding filing a wrongful death case, contact the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen today.
Lawsuits Follow Traffic Deaths of Two Teens, Howard County Times, December 7, 2006
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