Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

There’s been some encouraging news regarding U.S. traffic safety: National motor vehicle crash fatality numbers are down to the lowest levels in years (an estimated 32,788 deaths for 2010). The same holds true for Maryland auto accident deaths (547 fatalities in 2009).

The gains are attributed to a number of factors, including safer vehicles with more technology enhanced safety features; increased public awareness and usage of safety devices such as seat belts, child car seats, and motorcycle helmets; and greater enforcement of driving and traffic laws to prevent car, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents from happening in the first place.

Traffic cameras are one tool that law enforcement uses to deter and catch speeders and other dangerous drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that Maryland is one state where traffic cameras are, in fact, discouraging drivers from speeding — one of the leading causes of serious and fatal car crashes (see link to related articles about Maryland speed cams, below). The IIHS writes:

If it were up to those in Maryland who have lost loved ones in fatal automobile accidents, the laws punishing offending drivers would be a lot tougher. There is, in fact, a Md. bill in the House that would stiffen penalties against some drivers involved in deadly motor vehicle accidents — but that bill has yet to pass into law.

The Baltimore Sun reports that last week, grieving family members and friends made their case before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee about passing “House Bill 363: Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel — Criminal Negligence.” Area bicycle, pedestrian, and other safety advocates believe “a law is needed to bridge the gap between a simple speeding ticket and felony vehicular manslaughter.” Some think Maryland’s laws are too lenient on drivers who cause fatal car accidents on our roads, city streets, and highways, with some getting off with fines.

An experienced Baltimore County car accident attorney is familiar with these Maryland driving laws and penalties. Families may turn to Md. injury lawyers to file a civil suit against the driver responsible for their loved one’s injury, disability, or death — if they’re unsatisfied with the verdict in Maryland criminal court, or if the case didn’t involve criminal charges.

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 family of a bicyclist killed in a Baltimore, Maryland traffic accident last year is seeking damages against the driver and owner of the truck involved in the fatal accident.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the fatal truck accident took place on August 4, 2009. News reports state that a 67-year-old man, who was riding his bicycle south on Maryland Ave. behind a loaded fuel tanker, became caught in the truck’s wheels as it made a right turn onto Lafayette Ave. The man was run over and died at the traffic accident scene. A wrongful death civil lawsuit on behalf of the deceased man’s family has been filed in Baltimore Circuit Court seeking compensatory damages again the truck driver and the trucking company.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore police had previously stated that their investigation indicated the bicycle rider was at fault. No charges had been filed at that time against the truck driver, who did not stop following the traffic accident.

The Brain Injury Association of America announces that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. The group hopes to raise awareness of the seriousness of head injuries and traumatic brain injury (TBI) — particularly in regards to school sports injuries. The group’s website offers resources about head injury, fall and accident prevention, and brain physiology, explaining that the brain can be injured even if the head isn’t struck (such as in a whiplash car accident, where the neck and head are jarred violently).

The Brain Injury Association of America has a Maryland office and plans to hold an educational conference in Towson, Maryland, in April.

As Baltimore County, Maryland injury lawyers know from experience with client families, debilitating and deadly brain injuries can result from a number of scenarios, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an astonishing 1.4 million people suffer a TBI in the U.S. every year, with some 235,000 people requiring hospitalization and 50,000 dying from their traumatic brain injuries. Primary causes:

A doctor from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland is leading a national panel examining ways to increase screenings and prevent colon and rectal cancer deaths.

Though colorectal cancers are the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States (lung cancer is no. 1), barriers to getting life-saving screening tests remain. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a panel earlier this month chaired by Dr. Donald Steinwachs, a Johns Hopkins University professor and head of the Health Services Research and Development Center.

Dr. Steinwachs is quoted in an NCI press release as saying that some people find tests such as colonoscopy “…to be unpleasant and time-consuming. However, we also know that recommended screening strategies reduce colorectal cancer deaths.” The panel convened earlier in February to discuss ways to eliminate the main barriers to getting screened for colon and rectal cancers — namely health insurance obstacles, having to pay for tests out of pocket, and not having a regular health care provider.

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is scrambling. There’s last-minute shopping, preparing for holiday parties and feasts, wrapping up year-end projects at work — and increased travel by air, rail, and road. Unfortunately, drunk driving car accidents are also part of the holiday picture in Maryland and around the country.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that state law enforcement across the country will be cracking down on drunk drivers this holiday season, with the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign. People who overindulge in alcohol at family gatherings, work parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and other holiday get-togethers pose a risk of serious personal injury (including debilitating brain or spine injury) or death to themselves and others. Nationally, 13,470 people were killed in 2006 in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Maryland Drunk Driving Statistics and Holiday Traffic Accidents

Maryland injury lawyers who assist families in nursing home abuse and neglect cases hear some sad and maddening stories of harm — or even murder — befalling seniors in the care of retirement facilities.

When most people in Maryland think about nursing home abuse, they usually suspect elder care staff as the most likely culprits. But the elderly residents themselves may also abuse their fellow senior citizens — or worse. A chilling news story reported out of the Boston area last week focuses on the strangulation death of a grandmother who had recently celebrated her 100th birthday with her family.

According to an Associated Press report in The Baltimore Sun, a 98-year-old woman has been indicted for strangling and smothering her 100-year-old roommate by tying a plastic bag around her head because she felt she was “trying to take over the room.” The two women’s beds were separated by just four feet. The Sun reports that the victim’s son had asked the facility to separate the two women due to tensions between them, but he was reassured that they were getting along — and that his mother did not want to leave the room, where she had lived with her husband until his death in 2007.

Anne Arundel County, Maryland, police reported that a fatal car pedestrian crash occurred Mon. Nov. 30 in Severna Park, Md.

The deadly car and pedestrian accident took place around noon on Ritchie Highway near Cypress Creek Rd. According to news reports, a Chestertown woman, age 64, and a man, age 43, from Arnold, Maryland, were standing next to a minivan that had stopped because of a motor vehicle accident. A Jeep Cherokee driven by an 18-year-old man crashed into a vehicle stopped at a traffic light, setting off a four-vehicle chain reaction that pushed into the two bystanders. The woman pedestrian died of her injuries and three other people suffered personal injuries.

Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers are well versed in state driving laws and issues surrounding driver liability, when a serious car or truck accident occurs and someone is hurt or killed on our state’s roads and highways.

After many years of doctors advising women to start getting routine yearly breast cancer screening mammograms at age 40 — a new study comes out recommending women wait until age 50 for a first mammogram, then get one every two years after that. The study was released in Nov. ’09 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (see link below).

News of the study quickly reverberated through the national and Maryland medical communities, with many doctors decrying the results and patients wondering what to do. Some hospitals reported that on the day the study results were released, patients cancelled their mammograms in record numbers.

As Baltimore injury and wrongful death attorneys who have assisted families with Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, we are left to wonder how these new guidelines might affect medical care and cancer prevention.