Ruel Dempster, 19, has been charged in the manslaughter death of Montgomery County police officer Luke T. Hoffman.
Dempster is accused of DWI (driving while impaired) on April 25, 2007 in Wheaton, Maryland. Police officers tried to pull him over but he kept driving until he crashed his car in a parking lot. Dempster then got out of the car and ran. The officers pursued him on foot.
Officer Hoffman, who was one of the police officers pursuing Dempster through a dark area filled with trees, was struck by a police cruiser driven by Officer Stephen J. Wolsey. Hoffman died from his injuries related to the car accident.
Dempster is charged with reckless endangerment, failure to stop and provide identification after an accident involving an unattended car, fleeing and eluding police, and driving without a license.
According to police, Dempster says he did not stop when police ordered him to because he does not have a driver’s license. Police officers say that they could smell marijuana in his car. A cigar tube that contained marijuana was later discovered in Dempster’s apartment.
If you or someone you love has been critically injured in a car accident that was caused by another person, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer right away to see if you can hold the other party liable.
Legal liability in personal injury accidents stems from someone acting carelessly or negligently enough that an accident ended up taking place. The law then applies a basic rule: if someone in an accident acted less carefully than another person in the accident, the person who was less careful must pay for at least part of the damages sustained by the more careful person.
In addition to this rule of carelessness, legal liability is determined by at least one of the following simple propositions (Nolo):
• If the injured person was where he or she was not supposed to be, or somewhere he or she should have expected the kind of activity which caused the accident, the person who caused the accident might not be liable because that person had no “duty” to be careful toward the injured person.
• If the injured person was also careless, his or her compensation may be reduced by the extent such carelessness was also responsible for the accident. This is known as comparative negligence.
• If a negligent person causes an accident while working for someone else, the employer may also be legally responsible for the accident.
• If an accident is caused on property that is dangerous because it is poorly built or maintained, the owner of the property is liable for being careless in maintaining the property, regardless of whether he or she actually created the dangerous condition.
• If an accident is caused by a defective product, the manufacturer and seller of the product are both liable even if the injured person doesn’t know which one was careless in creating or allowing the defect, or exactly how the defect happened.
Man Charged in Montgomery Police Officer’s Death, Washington Post, July 14, 2007
General Rules for Proving Fault in Accidents, Nolo.com
Related Web Resource:
Types of Personal Injury Damages, Justia
The personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen represents clients who have been seriously injured in personal injury accidents where other parties were found negligent. Over the years, our personal injury attorneys have successfully represented many personal injury and wrongful death clients in the Maryland and Washington D.C. areas. Contact Lebowitz and Mzhen today to schedule your free consultation.