A district judge in Baltimore convicted a man of three traffic violations over a June 2011 car accident that caused disabling injuries to a police officer. The man, 23 year-old Robert Vanderford, admitted to speeding and also failing to control his speed to prevent a collision, according to the Baltimore Sun. The judge also convicted him for a third offense: driving on a suspended license. The officer injured in the crash filed a civil suit against Vanderford about a month before the criminal trial.
The accident occurred in rainy weather on June 21, 2011. Officer Teresa Rigby, a 28 year-old Baltimore police offers only three years out of the academy, was reportedly assisting a motorist whose car had become disabled in the northbound lane of an elevated portion of Interstate 83. As a tow truck driver was hooking up the motorist’s vehicle, Rigby stood on the shoulder of the highway. Vanderford’s Saab collided with Rigby’s parked police cruiser. The cruiser then hit Rigby, causing her to fall over a barrier to a parking lot at least twenty feet below.
Vanderford’s attorney said that his client was driving northbound on I-83 in the middle lane when he saw the lights on Rigby’s cruiser. The defense lawyer said that Vanderford sped up to pass another vehicle and merge into the left lane, but that his rear tires began to spin, and he lost control of the car. The skid sent his vehicle into the police cruiser. Vanderford acknowledged that he was driving above the speed limit when he lost control.
Officer Rigby suffered a broken pelvis, broken leg, and broken bones in her face. She has had multiple surgeries and expects to need more. She has apparently not returned to duty since the accident, and she may have to retire at the end of this month.
Department rules reportedly no longer allow injured officers to remain on duty for more than one year. She will have to prove that she can resume full duties by next month. Her other options, according to the Sun, are to resign or to seek medical disability. Disability would only pay two-thirds of what she had made as an officer. She will also have significant ongoing medical needs.
Baltimore prosecutors charged Vanderford with three traffic offenses: speeding, failure to control speed in order to avoid a collision, and driving with a suspended license. Vanderford admitted to the first two charges. The court held a trial on May 25, 2012 and convicted Vanderford of the third charge. The judge assessed three points against Vanderford’s driver’s license, fined him $260, and ordered him to complete 250 hours of community service with city police. Rigby requested a two-day jail sentence, which the judge granted but later suspended.
In April, Rigby filed a lawsuit against Vanderford in Baltimore Circuit Court, alleging that he was at fault in the crash. The lawsuit accuses him of negligence for driving too fast, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and collide with her cruiser. She is also suing the alleged titled owner of the Saab, claiming that he negligently entrusted the car to Vanderford even though his license was suspended at the time. Officer Rigby is seeking $15 million in damages for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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.
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City of Baltimore Approves $340,000 in Settlements for Traffic Accidents Involving City Vehicles, Maryland Accident Law Blog, May 21, 2012
Four Die in Car Crash in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 20, 2012