Articles Posted in Wrongful Death Cases

Hit and run accidents can be some of the most tragic and frustrating kinds of Maryland motorcycle accidents. While there is, of course, never a good accident, Maryland hit and runs can be particularly frustrating because not knowing the identity of the responsible driver can prolong—or even prevent—an injured motorcyclist from recovering in the aftermath of an accident.

Hit and run accidents are what they sound like—accidents where one vehicle hits another vehicle (or individual) and then runs from the scene of the crash by driving away. Typically, in the aftermath of an accident, an injured victim is so shocked that they do not think to take down the car’s make and model that hit them, let alone the license plate. And, often, in hit and run accidents, they are not even given the chance to get this information, as the driver usually leaves the scene of the crash immediately. Generally, drivers leave the scene because they are trying to avoid both civil and criminal liability—they may worry about being sued or, depending on the severity of the crash, even arrested.

Hit and run accidents are especially concerning for Maryland motorcyclists because motorcycle crashes are more likely to result in severe injuries and death. This is because motorcyclists do not have the protection around their bodies that drivers in cars do. Instead, they are more likely to absorb the impact of the crash themselves, or to be thrown from their motorcycle. For example, take a recent hit and run motorcycle accident that occurred just earlier this month. According to a local news report that covered the incident, the accident occurred around 6:30 AM one Monday morning when the driver of a passenger van made an illegal U-turn directly in the path of a motorcyclist, driven by a 29-year-old man. Surveillance video captured the incident and saw the driver of the van stopping briefly before fleeing the scene. The motorcyclist was transported quickly to a hospital by firefighter-paramedics, but unfortunately, he was soon after pronounced dead. The search for the driver of the van continues, and the investigation is ongoing.

Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when their death is sudden and unexpected. Unfortunately, far too many Maryland families know firsthand what it’s like to lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident, especially because motorcycle accidents are somewhat more likely to result in death. Because motorcyclists are not protected in the same way drivers are by their cars, accidents involving them can result in motorcyclists being thrown from their motorcycle or otherwise hurt. For example, take a recent tragedy involving a motorcyclist who was killed just this month when a driver pulled out in front of him and caused a crash.

In the aftermath of this and other similar and fatal accidents, families may find themselves struggling, and overwhelmed with grief due to the psychological impact of losing a loved one suddenly. At the same time, they also may find themselves having to figure out how to pay for medical bills, or cover funeral and burial expenses. While nothing can undo the harm that was caused and stop the grief from occurring, Maryland state law allows families to file a wrongful death suit to help with the finances.

Wrongful death suits are civil suits brought in court against the driver who caused the accident and the fatality. Unlike criminal charges, which aim to punish the driver, civil cases focus solely on helping the victim and their family recover financial compensation. In wrongful death cases, a victim’s family generally must prove four things. First, that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim. This is usually easy to prove—Maryland drivers owe a duty of care to all others on the road with them and must drive reasonably carefully to avoid harming others. Second, the family must prove that the defendant breached that duty. They may want to offer evidence that the driver purposefully did not stop at a stoplight, or that they were texting while driving—a breach of their duty to be careful. Third, they must prove that this breach was the cause of the injury. If the driver was texting while driving 10 minutes before the accident but then the actual accident was caused by something unrelated, then the texting did not cause the injury. Lastly, they must prove that actual harm was suffered as a result. Usually, the death of a loved one is sufficient to meet this element, but they must prove that the death was actually a result—not a poorly timed independent event.

In the United States, there are two main types of court cases: criminal and civil. Criminal cases are brought by the government against defendants who have allegedly committed a crime. If someone commits (or is suspected of committing) a bank robbery, for example, they might be arrested and charged with robbery, and if they are found guilty, they may be sentenced to jail. Civil cases, on the other hand, are when someone sues someone else. Like criminal cases, civil cases may or may not go to trial, but a civil defendant cannot be sentenced to jail. Instead, they are typically ordered to pay a certain amount of money to the plaintiff who brought the suit. While this difference between the types of cases is relatively clear, it can become complicated in Maryland bicycle accidents, when one accident could potentially lead to both types of cases.

For example, take a bicycle accident that occurred last month. According to a local news report, the crash happened on a Friday morning, when a bicyclist was riding northbound on the edge of the road and was struck by a vehicle. Tragically, the bicyclist, a 35-year-old man, suffered severe injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. A few days later, state police arrested a 27-year-old man thought to have been the vehicle’s driver. He was booked with failure to report a crash, hit-and-run driving, switching his license plate, driving under suspension, obstruction of justice, and negligent homicide. While it is too soon to know for sure, state prosecutors may choose to pursue a criminal case against him, and the defendant could be facing jail time and/or fines.

However, regardless of whether there is a criminal case, there may also be a civil case against the same defendant, resulting from the same accident. The existence of one type of case already arising from this crash does not preclude the other type of case. The victim’s family, in this instance, could potentially also bring a wrongful death claim against the defendant. In this case, if they were successful, the result would be focused not on punishing the defendant for his wrongs, but rather on making the plaintiffs whole. Thus, the typical damages in wrongful death cases are monetary compensation to cover pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and other direct costs resulting from the accident. Families may also obtain compensation for their non-economic, or emotional, damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Although drivers make left turns all the time—whether in a car, a truck, or a motorcycle—many people are not aware of how dangerous left turns can be. In fact, many Maryland motorcycle accidents are the result of someone attempting a left turn and then hitting a motorcycle that had the right-of-way. Just recently, a crash exactly like this was reported, giving a perfect example of what might happen.

According to a local news report covering the crash, a 50-year-old woman was driving an SUV and attempted to turn left. However, she violated the right-of-way of two oncoming motorcycles, resulting in a collision of all three vehicles. The drivers of the motorcycles—a 54-year-old man and a 25-year-old man—both tragically died at the scene.

There are many reasons why a driver in this situation might cause this type of accident while turning left. Perhaps the driver is intoxicated, and thus their judgment is clouded. Or, if it’s dark at night, drivers might find it hard to see motorcycles and assume that if they do not see a car coming then the path is clear. Drivers also could make risky moves like this if they are distracted while driving—by their phone, or by someone in the backseat—or if they have been driving many hours and are feeling fatigued. Whatever the reason, drivers who are at fault in causing accidents such as these can be held liable through a personal injury lawsuit.

Maryland motorcyclists generally understand the importance of being safe and careful on the road to avoid getting into an accident. Because motorcyclists have less protection than those driving other vehicles, getting in an Maryland motorcycle accident can be incredibly dangerous, leading to serious injuries or even death.

Accidents can be caused by many different things, but one common cause is drivers in cars or trucks driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and then crashing into a motorcyclist. While intoxicated, drivers may not see the motorcyclist, or may mid-judge how far away they are and how fast they are going, causing sometimes fatal accidents.

For example, take an accident from earlier this month. According to a local news report, the accident occurred around 8:30 one night, with a motorcyclist going west and a Chevy Camero going east on the same road. The Chevy Camero, driven by a 51-year-old woman apparently intoxicated from drinking alcohol before driving, made a left turn into the motorcyclist’s path, causing a crash. Tragically, the motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene by the responding officials. The driver was brought to the hospital to receive medical care for her injuries. The next day, she was arrested on numerous charges, including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, and careless driving resulting in death.

Maryland motorcycle accidents are incredibly dangerous. Unlike cars, which provide a significant barrier between other vehicles and the bodies of the drivers and passengers and have safety features such as automatic braking and airbags, motorcycles provide very little protection to riders. Motorcycle accidents also tend to occur at higher speeds, and almost always result in the motorcyclist being thrown off the bike. These are a few of the reasons that motorcycle accidents so often result in serious injuries and fatalities.

Recently, a tragic motorcycle accident resulted in the death of a 31-year-old woman. Not much is known about why the accident occurred, but according to a local news report the motorcycle was being driven by a 35-year-old man when it crashed around 2 a.m. The passenger on the motorcycle was killed as a result, and the driver also suffered injuries. The driver walked away from the scene of the accident, however, leaving his deceased passenger and wrecked motorcycle behind. State troopers and county sheriff’s deputies searched all night for the driver, finally locating him around 8:30 a.m. in a convenience store. The crash is currently under investigation, and it is not clear whether or not charges will be filed against the driver.

This accident is a tragic illustration of how fatal motorcycle accidents can be. Every year, many Maryland residents lose loved ones in accidents like this, causing pain and heartbreak. While nothing can undo the damage that is done in these crashes, or bring the deceased back to life, Maryland state law has developed a doctrine to allow grieving family members to hold whoever caused their loved one’s death responsible in court. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the family can recover financially to cover things such as funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills.

Another fatal motorcycle accident claimed a 41-year-old man’s life last week, yet another sobering reminder of the irreparable harm that Maryland motorcycle accidents can cause. According to a local news report, the motorcycle accident occurred a little after 5 PM on a Wednesday evening. Evidently, the motorcyclist was traveling south when a 2007 Jeep Patriot, traveling north on the same road, crossed the center line, striking the guardrail and causing a collision with the motorcycle. The incident caused both the driver and the passenger of the motorcycle to be sent to the hospital with severe injuries. The motorcycle driver, unfortunately, passed away in the hospital. Authorities say that the incident remains under investigation, and it is not clear why the Jeep crossed the center line and caused the collision. However, the driver of the Jeep was arrested at the scene for violation of a probation warrant and is currently in jail.

This case may result in criminal charges for the driver of the Jeep, who not only violated his probation warrant but also caused a deadly accident by crossing over the center line. However, this case may also lead to a civil suit. Depending on how or why the Jeep crossed over, the injured passenger and the family of the deceased driver may be entitled to financial compensation for the resulting harm. This doctrine was developed in Maryland and other states to protect accident victims who are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. By proving that the driver violated the duty of care he owed to be a responsible driver, and, that this action caused the accident and resulting injuries, the victims may be able to recover financially from him for the costs associated with their hospitalizations and subsequent recovery.

While the money the family may receive from a civil negligence suit cannot undo the harm caused, or the pain caused by the loss of life, it can, however, provide for the victim and their families in the aftermath. Those affected by the accident are now having to deal with medical bills and will likely have future medical needs and expenses as a result as well. The deceased victim’s family also likely has funeral and burial expenses, and then there’s the economic toll that the motorcyclist’s’ lost wages can have. A wrongful death lawsuit can help to provide for a grieving and recovering family and hold the negligent driver responsible for his actions. But filing these suits can be complicated, or overwhelming, particularly right after an accident. This is why Maryland residents are encouraged to find a local personal injury attorney to help them through the process.

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is always dangerous, for both the drunk driver as well as for others on the road. And, unfortunately, it can be especially dangerous for Maryland motorcyclists. Sharing the road with an intoxicated driver is never safe, but for Maryland motorcyclists, crashes can be more serious or even fatal than those in cars. Additionally, they may be more likely to be hit by intoxicated drivers in a Maryland motorcycle accident than cars or trucks, because motorcyclists take up less space and are less visible, particularly to drivers operating their vehicle under the influence at night.

There’s a reason that operating a vehicle under the influence is against the law. When driving drunk or otherwise intoxicated, a driver is less likely to be aware of their surroundings or to know what is going on. Additionally, intoxicated drivers have slower reflexes to respond to other drivers—or motorcyclists—and are also more likely to drive recklessly by not following traffic rules or speed limits. All of these things can result in incredibly serious accidents, including one that happened in Maryland last month.

According to a local news article covering the incident, a 37-year-old man from Temple Hills was driving, presumably under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, when he crossed over the yellow line on Route 54 in Nesquehoning. He hit a motorcycle driven by a 30-year-old Landford man, tragically throwing the cyclist from the motorcycle and killing him. When police arrived on the scene, they reported a strong smell of marijuana and paraphernalia in the intoxicated driver’s car.

A wrongful death claim is a claim brought after a person’s death that was caused by a defendant’s wrongful act. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a family member may be able to recover financial compensation due to their family member’s untimely death. A wrongful death claim is meant to compensate grieving family members, allowing them to recover for acts that would have entitled the decedent to recover compensation if they had survived.

A Maryland wrongful death claim is generally filed by a primary beneficiary. Spouses, parents, and children are considered “primary” plaintiffs under the Act. In a case where the decedent has no spouse, parent, or child, a wrongful death claim may be filed by another person who was substantially dependent upon the decedent and was related to the deceased person by blood or by marriage. These plaintiffs are considered secondary beneficiaries, which is why they can only recover if no primary beneficiary exists. Only one wrongful death claim can be filed based on the death of one decedent. Normally, the wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the death of the decedent.

In a wrongful death case, a defendant can, and often will, argue that the decedent is partially at fault for their death. Because Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff may be barred from recovering altogether in a wrongful death case if the decedent is found to have been partially responsible for their death.

According to a local news report, a woman was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident as she approached an intersection where a vehicle was stopped in a turn lane. The vehicle then moved into the path of the motorcycle, which resulted in the cyclist hitting the car. When officers arrived, they found the woman on the ground in the intersection. The victim was in life-threatening condition and later passed away at the hospital. Although this incident occurred in another state, similar accidents involving motorcycles claim lives every day in Maryland. In the wake of these tragedies, Maryland law allows families to file wrongful death lawsuits against responsible parties in the accident.

These cases allow for loved ones to seek relief for their harm, and Maryland law grants independent authority for spouses, parents, and children of the deceased to bring action against those accountable for the accident. Additionally, state law dictates that if the deceased did not have a surviving spouse, child, or parent, individuals related to the deceased through blood or marriage and those who were substantially dependent on the victim may also have grounds to sue.

Wrongful death lawsuits can provide the means for families to recover significant monetary damages. In Maryland, a variety of types of damages are recoverable. Following the loss of a loved one, finances can really add up – medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and property damage can be overwhelming and burdensome for families who are still recovering emotionally. However, wrongful death claims could assist in alleviating the burden for you and loved ones, and potential damages for pain and suffering could pave way for continued healing and recovery of those mourning the deceased.

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