Maryland Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Settlements & Verdicts

The family of a truck driver killed in a 2008 Chesapeake Bay Bridge tractor trailer truck accident has been awarded a $100,000 settlement by the responsible driver’s insurance company.

According to news reports, a big rig truck driver, age 57, was hauling refrigerated chickens across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge eastbound in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2008. Then, a 19-year-old woman who’d been out clubbing with friends in Baltimore, Maryland after a wedding fell asleep behind the wheel, crossed the center line, and hit the tractor trailer truck. The car crash set off a series of events that caused the truck to go out of control, hit another vehicle and break through the opposite barrier — plunging into the Chesapeake Bay waters below. The truck driver was killed.

As Queen Anne’s County car accident injury lawyers know, many factors are taken into consideration in both criminal and civil courts. This fatal Maryland car and truck accident case was controversial: even though the defendant had been drinking in Baltimore prior to the fatal traffic accident, her blood alcohol level was below the legal limit. The Queen Anne’s County State Attorney at the time told the press: “The act of falling asleep while driving and drifting across the center line is not sufficient to constitute gross negligence.”

The driver plead guilty to charges of negligent driving, failure to drive right of center and violating a license restriction and paid $470 in fines. Shortly after, the truck driver’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the woman driver in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, Maryland.

The pending $100K settlement from State Farm will close the wrongful death lawsuit, however property damage claims are still in progress. e.g., It cost the state of Maryland and two tow truck companies several hundred thousand dollars to remove the tractor trailer truck from Chesapeake Bay. Also the driver of a third car that was hit in the bridge traffic accident will reportedly sue the offending driver for property damages.

See related Maryland Injury Attorney blog article:
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Accident: Maryland Families File Lawsuit Over Traffic Deaths

Settlement Reached in Bay Bridge Crash Sept. 24, 2010
Bay Bridge wreck lawsuit close to settlement Sept. 23, 2010
Related Web Resource

Wikipedia: Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Experienced Baltimore County, Maryland car accident attorneys know that when someone intoxicated gets behind the wheel, everyone on the road with them is at risk.

Anyone can be hurt or killed in drunk-driving traffic accidents-including justice and law enforcement officials who work to prevent such car, truck, and pedestrian accidents from happening. Last year on Aug. 21, a Maryland judge found himself in the path of a drunk driver, with serious consequences. It was not the first time the two had met.

The Washington Post reports that a retired Maryland judge and his wife, both in their 80s, were seriously injured when a man driving a Chevy SUV struck their Honda automobile. The car accident occurred in Montgomery County, Md. The judge’s injuries included a leg fracture and broken ribs, and his wife suffered spinal injury and multiple broken bones. Ironically, the judge had spared the same man jail time when he stood before him in court years earlier, on a different drunk-driving charge.

The perpetrator has plead guilty to drunk driving in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Maryland, and this time, he may be sent to jail for his crime. Sentencing is scheduled for June 8.

Man could see jail time for drunken crash into Md. judge’s car April 14, 2010
Drunken Driver Spared Jail Time Accused in New DWI Accident, and Judge Is the Victim
ABA Journal April 12, 2010

A county police officer involved in a Harford County hit-and-run accident that took a man’s life may face up to seven years in prison. Officer Dane Hall, 29, of Perryville, Maryland, plead guilty to negligent homicide while intoxicated in addition to leaving the scene of an accident in the death of Antonio Martinez, 28.

In this unfortunate case — as we Maryland car accident lawyers have seen time and time again — the lives of not one but two families are changed forever when someone’s alcohol-impaired driving causes a car accident that takes someone’s life.

According to news reports, Hall admitted he had been drinking with several other police officers at an after-shift party the night of January 27, 2008. Hall left the party in the early morning hours of Jan. 28 and drove his Nissan Pathfinder into the back of Martinez’s Ford Explorer on I-95 near the Maryland House rest stop. The impact sent the Explorer spinning out of control before it flipped over and landed in the southbound lane.

Officer Hall claimed that though he thought he hit something and knew his airbag deployed, he didn’t see anything and drove his vehicle home. State Police found his license plate in the wreckage, linking Hall to the fatal accident. Hall will be sentenced July 24 and could face up to 7 years in prison — the maximum sentence allowed in the plea agreement with the state.

This case of a Harford County, Maryland police officer convicted in a fatal hit-and-run drunk driving accident shows that alcohol-impaired driving can affect anyone, regardless of their profession.

Harford County, Maryland Car Accident Statistics
According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data gathered for the year 2007…

  • Of the 29 traffic fatalities in Harford County, 6 deaths involved alcohol-impaired driving.
  • In comparison, Harford County drunk-driving deaths were lower than in neighboring Baltimore County, which saw 31 traffic fatalities due to alcohol-impaired driving (urban areas in Maryland have a higher traffic fatality rate than in rural areas). In nearby Carroll County, 1 of the 21 traffic deaths was due to drunk driving.
  • The state of Maryland had 614 traffic fatalities during that year, and of those, 179 deaths were attributed to drunk driving.

County officer guilty in fatal wreck April 18, 2009
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts for Maryland 2003-2007 (searchable by county)

Related Web Resources

Harford County, MD, Government Home Page

Maryland State Police

A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury awarded a seriously injured woman $250,000 in damages after she was struck by a car while attempting to cross a Baltimore Beltway construction site on foot. The Maryland car accident that resulted in pedestrian Sandra Lee Meade being hit and seriously injured occurred at a construction site near the Baltimore Beltway on Dec. 3, 2003. Meade had parked her car on the southbound side of Westland Boulevard at Circle Drive in Baltimore, Maryland before planning to catch a bus to her job at the IRS. She was hit by a car while illegally crossing the street at a construction zone operated by Pennsylvania based general contractors Dick Corp.

The area where the pedestrian car accident occurred was under construction to widen the outer loop of the Baltimore Beltway, Route 695. Meade was crossing the intersection diagonally to catch a northbound bus when a car traveling south on Westland Boulevard struck her. The Maryland woman sustained lifelong brain and spinal cord injuries, and has been living in a nursing home since this terrible pedestrian car accident occurred. The driver was not named in the lawsuit, as the plaintiff’s family felt he was also a victim.

Ms. Meade’s attorney argued at trial that the general contractor failed to keep the area safe for pedestrians, citing poorly placed barriers and confusing line painting. The jury concluded, however, that because the Plaintiff was crossing the street illegally, they could not hold the Dick Corp. liable for any of her injuries.

Fortunately, Ms. Meade’s wise attorney had separately negotiated what is known as a “high/low agreement” with counsel for the Defendant. This type of agreement is legally binding in Maryland, and basically states that, no matter what result a Judge or Jury reaches, basic minimums and maximums of insurance coverage will apply. This one legal maneuver, by an experienced attorney, avoided the $ZERO verdict, which the Jury felt compelled to hand down, based upon Maryland’s harsh law of contributory negligence.

Meade’s original lawsuit sought $8 million in damages. The $250,000 she was awarded — which her family must use to cover her lifelong medical and nursing home expenses — represented the “low” end of the settlement. The bottom line here is that Maryland Law, especially the harsh doctrine of contributory negligence, can be brutal. That is why legal representation is so important to people injured in Maryland car and pedestrian accidents.

Woman Struck in Work Zone to Get $250K Maryland Daily Record, Nov. 16, 2008

Related Web Resource

In what is most likely the largest individual settlement of its kind, the State of Maryland agreed this week to settle the suit of a 6 year old child abused while in foster care. Presently, the severely brain-damaged boy, Brandon, is confined to a hospital bed in his Southwest Baltimore home, where he requires daily dialysis and tube feeding. In July of 2004, young Brandon sustained his horrific injuries when a teen age girl in his foster home with a history of violence allegedly slammed his head into a set of concrete steps. Amazingly, the Department of Social Services had removed another child from the same foster home in 2003 due to abuse by the same teenager, but for reasons unknown the home was re certified later that year. Brandon was placed in foster care in May of 2004 after his mother suffered a sickle-cell anemia episode, while she was in the Maryland Witness Protection Program. Prior to sustaining his brain injuries, Brandon also had his arm broken, a fact also missed by DSS.
This settlement is long overdue, and clearly highlights the ongoing problems with Maryland Social Services. It is unfortunate that preventable tragedies like this are allowed to occur. It is even more sad that the State of Maryland has to be forced to acknowledge the extent of the problem through litigation. Kudos to Brandon’s legal team for this groundbreaking settlement.