Posted On: May 27, 2009

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Accident: Maryland Families File Lawsuit Over Traffic Deaths

This past Memorial Day weekend, hoards of Baltimore, Maryland, and other Mid-Atlantic residents and visitors traversed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The dual-span bridge is one of Baltimore's most memorable historic landmarks and the subject of picture postcards. It's also been the subject of controversy surrounding its maintenance, repair and safety, and the site of Baltimore traffic accidents -- some of them deadly.

If you live or work in the Baltimore-Washington Metro area and you use the bridge to get where you need to go, you've no doubt been driven crazy time and time again by the bottlenecks that occur on the Bay Bridge. You've experienced headaches and frustration due to the ongoing redecking and restoration project, which causes officials to close lanes in spans of the bridge. If you don't like heights, being stuck in a traffic jam over the water isn't your favorite place to be. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we're aware of the legal cases that arise following traffic accidents on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

For example, a current lawsuit in the news concerns a fatal car crash that occurred on the Bay Bridge in 2007. The families of three men killed in a multi-car accident are suing the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) and a number of drivers for $19 million. The accident occurred when a trailer being pulled by an SUV disconnected, setting off a chain reaction that involved multiple vehicles. Three men were killed and five other people suffered injuries.

According to a recent news report, the attorney for the clients suing the state in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, court asserts that the MDTA knew accidents had previously happened during two-way traffic on one span of the bridge that did not have a barrier. The state is claiming that two-way traffic was not a factor in this fatal Chesapeake Bay Bridge accident.

In 2008, a harrowing tractor-trailer truck accident on the Bay Bridge involving two other cars -- one of which was driven by a woman who, according to news reports, said she fell asleep at the wheel following a wedding -- caused the truck to hit the sides and go over the side of the bridge, killing the truck driver. The truck, which swerved to avoid the car, broke through the bridge's railing -- causing the structure's safety to be questioned.

Lawsuit accuses state of negligence in fatal crash
Examiner.com April 25, 2009

Bay Bridge Crash: 'It Was Like a Bomb Had Gone Off'
The Washington Post August 12, 2008

Related Web Resources

Maryland Transportation Authority Homepage

MDTA Bay Bridge

Wikipedia: Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Posted On: May 21, 2009

Maryland Car Bike Accident Injures Two on Bike to Work Day

According to the Annapolis, Maryland police, two bicyclists were hospitalized last Friday for injuries suffered in an Anne Arundel County bicycle-car accident. The accident took place when a motorist parked on Main Street in Annapolis opened his car door into the path of the oncoming cyclists. One injured cyclist was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center and the other to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

The accident occurred on Bike to Work Day, a national and regional event to promote bicycling as an alternative means of transportation. The event attracted more than 1,000 riders in Baltimore. An experienced Maryland car accident lawyer helps families of a bicyclist injured or killed in a traffic accident determine if they have a legitimate claim against the operator of a motor vehicle.

Maryland Bicycle Traffic Accident Statistics and Helmet Laws
As we've discussed in the past, when motorcycle accidents occur on Maryland's highways and roadways, the operator is often at a huge disadvantage when a car, SUV, or truck accident occurs. Bicycle riders are at a disadvantage for many of the same reasons that put motorcyclists at risk: it takes them longer to brake and stop, they are more exposed to weather conditions and obstacles in the roadway, and when they are involved in a traffic accident, they are physically vulnerable to catastrophic injuries.

In 2007, 698 bicyclists died due to injuries suffered in accidents on our nation's roadways, accounting for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities. Of the 614 Maryland traffic deaths that occurred that year, 7 were pedacyclists. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2007 Data: Bicyclists and Other Cyclists.)

The Maryland Bicycle Helmet Law "requires all bicyclists under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle safety helmet when riding on public property." Certain counties in Maryland have their own laws. For example, in Montgomery County, the law applies to riders under 18, and in Sykesville, Maryland, bicyclists of all ages must wear a safety helmet.

2 bicyclists hospitalized after accident in Annapolis
BaltimoreSun.com May 15, 2009

Bike to Work Day attracts record number of riders
BaltimoreSun.com May 15, 2009

Related Web Resources

Maryland’s Bicycle Helmet Law

Baltimore Metropolitan Council: Bike to Work Day 2009

Posted On: May 15, 2009

Cecil County, Maryland Truck Driver Dies in Conn. Highway Accident

A trucker from Cecil County has been killed in a commercial truck accident on Connecticut's Interstate 95. According to news reports, Woodrow Phelps Jr., 68, of Elkton, Maryland, was killed May 13 when his tractor-trailer rig, heading northbound on I-95 in Milton, Connecticut, around 5:30 a.m., struck an SUV, setting off a chain-reaction.

News reports say six vehicles were involved in the chain reaction accident, including one other tractor trailer. According to State Police, Phelps, who had been driving a 2005 Freightliner for Penske Truck Leasing, struck an SUV that was merging onto the highway from a right-lane on-ramp. Phelps was pronounced dead at the scene. The SUV driver, who complained of leg pain, was taken to an area hospital.

The Associated Press reported that stretch of highway where the fatal motor vehicle crash occurred was undergoing work by the Department of Transportation, with traffic reduced to one lane. Police reported that the work crew was picking up from an overnight project when the accident occurred. Highway traffic was closed for eight hours following the crash. State police are investigating this fatal highway accident.

Maryland Large Truck Accident Statistics
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in Maryland in 2007, large trucks were involved in 69 roadway deaths. Because of their sheer size and weight, large commercial trucks need more room to brake, stop, and maneuver than passenger cars.

Maryland Intersection and Roadway Departure Accidents
As experienced Maryland car truck accident lawyers see in too many of their cases, roadway on-ramps, off-ramps, and intersections are frequently involved in fatal accident scenes.

NHTSA reports that in Maryland in 2007, of the total 614 traffic fatalities, 120 deaths involved intersections and more than half -- 362 fatalities -- involved a roadway departure (which is defined by the Federal Highway Administration as when a driver leaves his or her lane to the right or the left). Roadway departure crashes tend to be more severe, cause the majority of highway accidents, and account for 59% of all U.S. traffic fatalities (Source: FHWA.gov).

Trucker from Md. dies in crash on I-95 in Conn.
BaltimoreSun.com May 14, 2009

Police Continue Probe Of Fatal Truck Crash On I-95 In Milford
Hartford Courant.com May 13, 2009

Related Web Resource
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Safety Program


Posted On: May 8, 2009

Baltimore County Single-Vehicle Accidents: Causes and Fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that single-vehicle traffic deaths in Baltimore County, Maryland have declined in recent years -- 45 deaths in 2007, as compared to 51 deaths in 2003. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts for Baltimore County 2003-2007).

Single motor vehicle crashes may be caused by a number of factors, including


  • driving under the influence

  • driving while fatigued or distracted

  • exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for road conditions

  • weather and road conditions

  • swerving to avoid road debris, animals, or other obstacles

  • swerving to avoid another driver

  • errors in driver judgment causing loss of vehicle control

The Baltimore County Police Department offers maps of traffic fatalities and causes for 2002 - 2007 (see link below). NHTSA reports that overall Baltimore County traffic deaths have been on the decline -- 72 deaths in 2007, down from 86 deaths in 2003.

While statistics show improvement in Baltimore County's overall vehicle accident fatality rates, that's of little comfort if you're one of the unfortunate families who loses someone in a fatal car, SUV, truck accident or motorcycle crash.

Even in single vehicle collisions, another driver may be held liable if they cause you to have an accident. Actual vehicle-to-vehicle contact is not necessary. For example, let's say someone comes barreling toward your car on a dark evening, swerves and enters your lane of travel--causing you to leave the roadway and have an accident. If this driver can be identified, they are going to held liable for causing an accident, even if they do not hit your vehicle. Even if the driver flees the scene in this scenario, you would still be eligible to file what is called a "phantom vehicle" claim with your insurance company. Your company would then "stand in the shoes" of the at-fault driver, and (hopefully) negotiate a settlement with you or your attorney.

Finally, defective automotive equipment, tires, or faulty repairs could have contributed to the accident, and if so, the mechanic or manufacturer can be held liable for their negligence. A Baltimore County accident lawyer relieves grieving families of the burden of filing claims and when necessary, litigating to bring a responsible party to justice.

Baltimore County Maryland Traffic Fatality Maps

NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Maryland 2003-2007

Related Web Resources

Baltimore County Police Department

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