September 15, 2011

Lessons Learned Abroad: Why Auto Accident Death Rates Are Lower in Europe Than in the U.S.

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:

Institute studies in Maryland and Arizona found that the proportion of drivers exceeding speed limits by more than 10 mph fell by 70 percent and 95 percent, respectively, after cameras were introduced. Speeds also fell on roads outside the enforcement area (IIHS Status Report, Jan. 31, 2008).

As a Baltimore County wrongful death lawyer knows from work with grieving clients -- one death on the Maryland roads is one too many, and enough to change the lives of families forever. Despite the gains of recent years in preventing accidents and saving lives, the U.S. lags behind Europe in decreasing auto accident fatality rates even further. A Transportation Research Board (TRB) study that found that motor vehicle accident "deaths in most other high-income countries are dropping much faster than in the U.S."

In Europe, car accident fatality rates are lower per vehicle mile travelled, as compared to in the U.S. The study attributes the lives saved to wider acceptance and usage of traffic cameras, roadway design features such as roundabouts (rotaries), universal motorcycle helmet laws, lower illegal blood alcohol concentration levels and more frequent roadside testing for drunk driving, and a more aggressive approach to drivers who speed.

The study also noted that while U.S. federal, state, and local agencies all have a hand in driving safety programs -- European countries tend to have one central road safety agency that coordinates all programs. The IIHS quotes the TRB study authors: "No U.S. speed management program today is comparable in scale, visibility, and political commitment to the most ambitious programs in other countries." Countries beating us in the race to save lives on roadways include Australia, France, Sweden, and the U.K. Clearly there's much more work to be done in the U.S.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Deterring Baltimore County Traffic Accidents: Speed Camera Laws Go Into Effect (Oct. 7, 2009)

Baltimore Traffic Accident Prevention: Speed Cameras May Snap Offenders at Schools and Construction Sites (July 21, 2009)

Sources:

U.S. Trails Other Wealthy Nations on Road Safety Gains (PDF)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Status Report, Vol. 46, No. 7, Aug. 18, 2011

Achieving Traffic Safety Goals in the United States: Lessons from Other Nations
Transportation Research Board of the National Academies


February 28, 2011

Maryland Vehicular Homicide Bill : Drivers Who Cause Fatal Auto Accidents Should Get Tougher Penalties, Grieving Families Say

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 current problem with Maryland law, The Baltimore Sun reports, is that prosecutors must prove "wanton and willful disregard for human life" for more serious criminal charges against a driver to stick. Those factors are hard to prove in car accident cases unless blatantly reckless or aggressive driving was to blame -- deadly behaviors such as driving drunk or driving under the influence of drugs, exhibiting road rage, or drag racing (e.g., illegal street racing). If the bill with enhanced charges passes, those drivers proven to be true terrors on the road would face stiffer penalties, including possible jail time.

Accidents do happen on Baltimore County roads and highways. Some are due to weather, vehicle malfunction, sudden distractions, obstacles in the road, and other unforeseen circumstances. (Pedestrian accidents involving motor vehicles also occur for a variety of reasons, some resulting in injury or death.) As The Sun puts it, the current law is looking to punish bad behavior -- not bad luck. If passed, HB 363 will create a misdemeanor for causing the death of another while operating a vehicle in a criminally negligent manner.

Sources:

Bill to punish fatally bad driving should pass with care
The Baltimore Sun Feb 27, 2011

Support Maryland HB 363: Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel–Criminal Negligence
Washington Area Bicyclist Association Feb. 22, 2011

Text of Maryland House Bill 363:
Manslaughter by Vehicle or Vessel -- Criminal Negligence:

Text of Maryland House Bill 363 (PDF)


Text of Maryland House Bill 363
(Google docs)


September 30, 2010

Queen Anne's County Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit : Family Awarded $100K in Chesapeake Bay Bridge Fatal Truck Accident Case

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
WJZ.com Sept. 24, 2010

Bay Bridge wreck lawsuit close to settlement
HometownAnnapolis.com Sept. 23, 2010

Related Web Resource

Wikipedia: Chesapeake Bay Bridge

March 10, 2010

Family of Cyclist Killed in Baltimore Truck Accident Files $5 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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.

A Baltimore truck accident injury lawyer has knowledge of Maryland traffic laws in regards to proving liability when someone is injured or killed in an accident involving a large commercial vehicle — which outweighs the average passenger car by several tons.

Pedestrians, bicyclists (pedacyclists), and motorcycle riders who share Maryland's streets and highways with semi-trucks, tanker trailers, and other large commercial trucks are vulnerable to catastrophic injury (including brain and spine injury) and death, when an accident with one of these enormous vehicles occurs.

Family of bicyclist killed in city accident files $5 million lawsuit
BaltimoreSun.com March 5, 2010

Related Web Resources

Maryland Bicycle Safety Laws

Maryland Bicycle Safety: Things to Know

March 4, 2010

Maryland Brain Injury Association: March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

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:

o Motor vehicle crashes cause 20% percent of traumatic brain injuries,
o Falls cause 28% (always a concern for the elderly, including those in nursing homes),
o Being struck by something/striking against something causes 19%, and
o Assaults cause 11% of traumatic brain injuries.
o Other causes: Suicide (1%), other transport (2%), pedal cycle (3%), other (7%), unknown (9%).

(Source: CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, "What is traumatic brain injury?," TBI Causes, collected online March 4, 2010.)

Maryland injury and wrongful death attorneys are, unfortunately, all too aware of circumstances where medical negligence results in a failure to properly and promptly diagnose and treat a traumatic brain injury in time to prevent permanent brain damage or death. Seconds count with these most serious of medical emergencies.

The news media has paid increased attention to the subject of brain injuries since the death of actress Natasha Richardson in 2009, following what at first seemed to be a mild fall on a beginner ski slope. Like many traumatic brain injury victims, Richardson was initially able to speak and appeared to be relatively uninjured. However she complained of a headache and fell unconscious hours later. She died due to an epidural hematoma -- bleeding inside the brain which can build up pressure and cause the brain to shift, cutting off the blood supply and causing death.

Brain Injury Association of America

Maryland Brain Injury Association

CDC: Traumatic Brain Injury

WebMD: Natasha Richardson Dies of Epidural Hematoma
WebMD Health News, March 19, 2009

February 25, 2010

Maryland Doctor Heads Panel to Lower Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevent Cancer Deaths

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.

A case of cancer misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose cancer, or late cancer diagnosis in Maryland may be proven if the physician ignores or fails to order tests for troubling symptoms presented by the patient, or attributes them to some other benign condition. The NCI reports that although colorectal screenings have increased in the U.S. population for people over age 50 -- from a rate of 20 to 30% in 1997 to nearly 55% in 2008 -- that we still have a long ways to go to save more lives. Colon and rectal cancers can be treated successfully when caught in the early stages or pre-cancer stages.

Baltimore County injury lawyers with knowledge about cancer misdiagnosis and medical malpractice cases in Maryland will advise patients on steps they need to take if they think a doctor's negligence led to a failure to treat or late treatment of their cancer.

Panel Calls for Reducing Colorectal Cancer Deaths by Striking Down Barriers to Screening
National Cancer Institute, Press Release Feb. 4, 2010

Related Web Resources

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: Health Services Research and Development Center

Katie Couric Speaks: A Personal Tragedy Sparks a Public Campaign to Prevent Colon Cancer

December 21, 2009

New Year's Eve and Other Holiday Drunk Driving Car Accidents in Maryland

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
Baltimore County, Maryland car accident lawyers know the human stories behind the statistics. In Maryland, 189 people died in drunk-driving accidents in 2006. And while the Maryland state rate of drunk-driving accident fatalities has been on the decline in recent years (178 deaths in 2007 and 152 in 2008 -- a decline of 12.5%), we know that even one death is one too many. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland, 2004 - 2008).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nationally, more fatal drunk-driving car crashes occur at night (36%) and on the weekend (31%) -- just when holiday parties are most likely to be held. In Maryland, we have snow, ice, and the rest of winter's fury adding to the hazards on our roads and highways.

So please: Drive sober, within the speed limit, and defensively this holiday season -- and be alert if you're coming home from a party. The night-time fatal drunk driving accident rate is four times higher than the day-time rate (9%). That's a sobering figure to keep in mind when you're driving to or from your destinations this holiday season. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts 2006 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Intensive Holiday Drunk & Impaired Driving Crackdown & Advertising Blitz
NHTSA Press Release, Dec. 7, 2009

Fatalities and Fatality Rates in Alcohol- Impaired-Driving Crashes by State, 2007-2008 (download PDF)
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Research Note, Dec. 2009

Related Web Resources

Over the Limit, Under Arrest 2009 Campaign

Maryland Department of Transportation: Traveler Alerts

December 15, 2009

Nursing Home Abuse and Wrongful Death: Will 98 Year Old Stand Trial for Murder of Roommate?

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.

The Boston Globe goes on to say that on the evening prior to the murder, the alleged perpetrator placed a table in front of the victim's bed, preventing her from going to the bathroom. When a nursing aide moved the table, the 98-year-old punched her. The 100-year-old was found asphyxiated the following morning, in a room that was just several feet from a nurses' station. When staff moved the woman to another room, she spotted a white shopping bag and was quoted as telling her new roommate, "I hope I don't have to use that." She reportedly had a history of dementia and erratic behavior.

A tragic case like this brings up many troubling questions for Maryland nursing home abuse attorneys, regarding whether or not this nursing home death could have been prevented, had staff and management heeded the warning signs. Massachusetts courts are pushing forward with indicting the 98-year-old, who was being evaluated in a psychiatric hospital. If she is found competent to stand trial, she will be the oldest murder suspect to go on trial in the state.

DA: 98-year-old Mass. woman strangled 100-year-old roommate because she was 'taking over' room
The Baltimore Sun Dec. 11, 2009

Woman, 98, indicted on murder charges
Boston.com Dec. 12, 2009

Related Web Resources

Maryland Department of Aging / Housing Information

Assisted Living in Maryland: What You Need to Know (PDF doc)
University of Maryland Law School 2002

December 3, 2009

Maryland Chain Reaction Car Accident Kills Pedestrian, Injures 3 Others

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.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though car-pedestrian fatalities decreased by 13 percent from 1997 to 2007 -- still 4,654 pedestrians lost their lives on U.S. roadways in 2007. Most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas, at night, under normal weather conditions, and where walkers are not in crosswalks. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2007 Data: Pedestrians)

No further details were available on this fatal Anne Arundel County, Maryland car and pedestrian accident.

MARYLAND: Pedestrian killed in 4-car crash
Associated Press Dec. 1, 2009

Related Web Resource
NHTSA Pedestrian Portal

November 20, 2009

Maryland Medical Malpractice and the New Mammograms After 50 Study

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.

One of the types of medical malpractice claims that we sadly see all too often in Maryland and around the country is cancer misdiagnosis. To successfully prosecute a misdiagnosis claim in the Maryland courts, the plaintiff (patient) and their lawyers must demonstrate that medical error or negligence led to a patient's cancer being overlooked, misdiagnosed, or improperly treated -- and that the patient suffered personal injury or death because of those medical errors.

Maryland medical malpractice litigation is governed by very specific rules and regulations regarding liability, burden of proof and notice to any contemplated defendant. The Task Force that issued the "mammograms start at 50" guidelines did so with the caveat that women should consult with their doctors. However we're left to wonder how this will affect the Maryland medical community's responsibility to successfully prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer in patients who are hearing that they need less -- not more -- preventative medicine.

The American Cancer Society says it will not change its recommendation that women should start getting annual screening mammograms at age 40 (see link to statement below).

Task force opposes routine mammograms for women age 40-49
CNN.com Nov. 16, 2009

Screening for Breast Cancer
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Nov. 2009

Finding Breast Cancer Early: Age 40, Every Year
American Cancer Society, Dr. Len's Cancer Blog Nov. 16, 2009

November 17, 2009

Johns Hopkins, Baltimore Student Hit and Run Death: Police Review 911 Call Made Before Fatal Pedestrian Accident

The Baltimore Sun reports that city police are reviewing a 911 call placed shortly before a Johns Hopkins University student was killed in a fatal hit-run pedestrian accident in Baltimore City, Maryland.

On Friday Oct. 16, 2009, in the mid-afternoon, neuroscience student Miriam Frankl, age 20, was attempting to cross St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a pickup truck. The driver in this fatal Baltimore City pedestrian - pickup truck accident fled the scene. Ms. Frankl suffered serious head wounds and died of her injuries at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police later apprehended and charged Thomas Meighan Jr. of Carroll County, Maryland, in relation to the death of Ms. Frankl. News reports state that Mr. Meighan has a lengthy history of drunk driving traffic violations in Maryland, including another DUI hit-and-run arrest in Northwest Baltimore this past summer.

Police are now reviewing a 911 call from a man who wanted to report a white pickup truck driving in Baltimore City erratically about 90 mins. before Ms. Frankl was struck and killed. The Sun reports the transcript reveals initial confusion between the caller and police dispatcher, then apparently a decision was made that a cruiser would not investigate (see link below to 911 call transcript).

Maryland Pedestrian Fatalities and Drunk Driving Statistics
Baltimore City wrongful death lawyers may be consulted by individuals and families who suffer personal injury or lose someone they love because a driver got behind the wheel intoxicated, without regard for public safety. Some sobering facts:

> 116 people in Maryland lost their lives in fatal pedestrian traffic accidents in 2007.

> Over one-third of all fatal Maryland car accidents involved alcohol-impaired driving in 2007 (179 out of 614 traffic deaths).

(Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007.)

Police to review 911 call in student's death
BaltimoreSun.com Nov. 13, 2009

Driving down the road to ruin
BaltimoreSun.com Nov. 1, 2009

Related Web Resources

JHU family celebrates student’s life
The JHU Gazette Nov. 9, 2009

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

November 9, 2009

Transportation Among Top Causes of Fatal Maryland Work Accidents (but Occupational Death Rates Are Down)

What would you guess are among the most dangerous jobs in Maryland? Construction? Roofing? Electrical work? You'd be right on all those counts, but some of the top causes of fatal occupational injuries in Maryland may come as somewhat of a surprise. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of the 59 people who lost their lives due to work-related accidents in Maryland in 2008...

> Transportation accidents (which include air, rail, highway transportation including freight trucking accidents, nonhighway transportation, and being struck and killed by a vehicle, e.g., construction site worker pedestrian accidents) accounted for 17 deaths;

> 9 fatalities resulted from Assaults and Violent Acts (including self-inflicted injury);

> 12 were victims of Falls;

> 10 died due to Contact with Objects or Equipment;

> and another 10 perished due to Exposure to Harmful Substances.

Maryland Occupational Injury Death Rates Decline
The good news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is fatal occupational injuries are down across the United States, including significant reductions in Maryland (59 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006).

Total U.S. workplace deaths in 2008 amounted to 5,071 -- down from 5,657 in 2007. Deaths from falls -- a major hazard for construction workers -- were down, as were fatal transportation accidents. Workplace homicides declined, but sadly, workplace suicides went up in 2008. The BLS reports all these numbers are preliminary, and final figures will be made available in April 2010.

As Maryland Work Injury Lawyers, we have seen all these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Many families are unaware that they may be entitled to Maryland Workers' Compensation benefits even after their family member has died. That is why it is so important to contact an experienced Md workers' compensation attorney to find out what benefits you may be entitled to -- before accepting an offer from the employer or speaking to their attorney or insurance company representative.

NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2008
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aug. 20, 2009

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry
Fatal occupational injuries by industry and event or exposure, Maryland, 2006 (XLS doc)

Related Web Resources

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry Research and Statistics
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

October 23, 2009

Student Killed in Baltimore Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident; Carroll County Truck Driver Questioned

Baltimore City Police have questioned a Carroll County, Maryland man regarding a truck involved in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident that killed a Johns Hopkins University student. According to news reports, the 20-year-old victim was crossing the 3500 block of St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a white Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling at a high rate of speed. She later died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The vehicle involved in this Baltimore hit-run truck accident sped off, however a witness took down the Maryland license plate number. That and news reports informing the public to keep a lookout helped police locate the vehicle. Police have questioned but not arrested a Carroll County, Maryland man, who has a lengthy history of traffic offenses, including 4 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests going back to the mid-1990s.

The individual being questioned has another DUI trial coming up in Dec. for an incident that occurred in July. He is charged with multiple offenses, including reckless driving and failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death.

Maryland Pedestrian Traffic Accident Statistics
Baltimore pedestrian accident lawyers often work with individuals and families when someone is injured or killed due to negligent, reckless and/or impaired driving. In 2007, pedestrian traffic accidents took the lives of 116 people in Maryland -- the highest number in five years. Of the total 614 Maryland traffic fatalities for 2007 -- 179 involved alcohol-impaired driving (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007).

Baltimore City Police continue to investigate this fatal Maryland traffic accident and have not arrested the Carroll County truck driver, who remains "a person of interest."

Police: Owner of truck in hit-and-run is 'person of interest'
Carroll Eagle, Oct. 21, 2009

Hit and Run Death Reveals Disturbing Past
ABC2News.com Oct. 21, 2009

Hopkins student dies of injuries
BaltimoreSun.com Oct. 18, 2009

Related Web Resources

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore Police Department

WalkingInfo.org

October 14, 2009

Harford County, Maryland Motorist Killed in Tractor Trailer Truck Accident on Pulaski Highway

The Baltimore Sun reported that a semi truck driver faces multiple charges after a deadly Maryland highway truck crash that took the life of a 57-year-old woman from Edgewood.

The fatal SUV - truck accident occurred Sunday in the early morning hours on Pulaski Highway in White Marsh, Maryland. According to news reports, the woman's 2003 Chevy Tracker SUV was struck by a Kenworth semi truck, which entered the highway from Stevens Rd. The victim died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where her husband remained in critical condition. The truck driver, from Virginia, will face a number of charges. No further details were available on this fatal accident.

Another semi truck accident involving two tractor trailers and a pickup truck took place in Frederick County, Maryland, on Tues., closing down the eastbound side of I-70 near Bill Moxley Rd. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in this multi vehicle accident, which involved a semi truck jackknifing and spilling a haul of metal railing into the highway. A second tractor trailer struck the roadway debris, rupturing the truck's gas tank. A Chevy pickup truck was also involved in this Maryland highway accident. The cause of the first truck's jackknife has not been reported.

Harford County, MD truck accident lawyers are well versed in the laws and safety regulations governing the operation of these mammoths of the highway. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has 100s of specific safety regulations in place pertaining to the operation of large commercial trucks. Excessive speed and lack of sleep sometimes contribute to these deadly tractor-trailer accidents. In addition, using cell phones and texting while driving have become critical safety concerns in the United States. (See link to Distracted Driving Summit, below.)

One killed in truck-SUV crash in White Marsh
The Baltimore Sun Oct. 12, 2009

Police investigating fatal collision in White Marsh
The Baltimore Sun Oct. 11, 2009

Accident closes eastbound I-70 in Frederick County
Herald-Mail.com Oct. 13, 2009

Related Web Resources

United States Department of Transportation:

Federal Highway Administration Safety Program

Distracted Driving Summit

September 16, 2009

Baltimore County, Maryland Hit and Run Traffic Accident Kills Car Driver

The Baltimore Sun reported that a driver was killed this weekend in a fatal hit-and-run Baltimore County car accident.

According to news reports, the fatal hit and run crash occurred Saturday night at 10 p.m. in Baltimore Highlands at the intersection of Virginia Ave. and Annapolis Rd. The suspect, who was driving a cargo van, allegedly fled the scene of the accident but was later apprehended by police and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver of the car that was struck by the van perished and a passenger suffered personal injury. The Sun reported that the driver was 20 years old and lived on Virginia Avenue, Baltimore. The suspect, age 54, is also from Baltimore.

Baltimore County accident lawyers are familiar with the many hazards of driving on Maryland's roads and highways. Some regional statistics...

Baltimore County and Baltimore City Traffic Fatalities for 2007
In the state of Maryland in 2007, there were 179 alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths (involving drivers with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08). Of fatal traffic accidents for that same year, 216 involved speeding and 120 involved an intersection. There were 72 deaths in Baltimore County (12 percent of the total for the state) and 47 in Baltimore city (8 percent of the total). (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007)

In this fatal hit/run car accident case, the suspect was apprehended. Hit-and-run scenarios include drivers who failed to stop their vehicles following a car, SUV, motorcycle, truck accident, or pedestrian accident; who flee on foot; and/or those who cause an accident and either fail to exchange information, report the accident or offer assistance at the scene.

In some cases, where the hit/run suspect is never found, the victims' own auto insurance may "stand in" for the at-fault driver's insurance and provide coverage for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and property damage resulting from the accident. As always, it is best to consult an experienced Maryland injury attorney in hit and run auto accident situations. You may want to do this even before you contact your insurance company, so that your attorney can clearly explain the various scenarios which may unfold in this complex situation.

Victim identified in Baltimore County crash
The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 14, 2009

Driver dies in hit-and-run
The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 13, 2009

September 2, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Crackdown: Maryland Drunk Driving Accident Prevention

Labor Day traditionally heralds the end of summer. It's an opportunity for family and friends to get together one more time before diving back into the fall season's school-and-work grind. Not surprisingly, this long holiday weekend typically sees a spike in alcohol-related traffic accidents nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is ramping up its public awareness safety campaign in an effort to reduce the number of Labor Day car, truck, and motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities. Called "Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest," the campaign brings together law enforcement and public safety advocates to drive home the message that drunk driving is not an accident, nor is it a victimless crime.

The DOT reports that last year, 40% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred over Labor Day weekend were due to drinking and driving. Law enforcement will be cracking down on impaired driving this holiday weekend for drivers of all types of vehicles including motorcycles, cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

NHTSA reports that in 2007, some 13,000 people were killed in highway crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders whose blood-alcohol levels were .08 or higher, above the legal limit set in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico. The agency wants to get the message across that drunk driving deaths can be prevented if people take precautions, such as designating a sober driver when they plan on consuming alcohol.

Maryland Drunk Driving Fatality Statistics
In Maryland, 179 people died in 2007 in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Though any death due to drunk driving is one death too many, the number in Maryland is down from a five-year high of 211 drunk driving deaths in 2004--in part thanks to law enforcement and public awareness safety campaigns such as this one (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003-2007). Too often, Maryland car accident lawyers witness how families' lives are changed forever when a party-goer drinks too much and gets behind the wheel. Be safe this Labor Day weekend. It's supposed to mark the end of summer -- not someone's life.

Stop Impaired Driving: Campaign Headquarters

Law Enforcement August/Labor Day Crackdown: Fact Sheet

Related Web Resources

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
Law Enforcement Officers Prepare for Labor Day Weekend

Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP):
Sober Ride Program

August 12, 2009

Maryland On Foot: Avoid Pedestrian Accidents with These Safety Tips

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the 614 Maryland car accident deaths that occurred in 2007, pedestrian deaths numbered at 116. That's 116 people who died trying to get to where they were going on foot -- whether it was to school, to work, to the store, to walk the dog, or to visit a neighbor or friend. Maybe some were just trying to get home. They didn't make it.

For the same year (2007), across the U.S., 4,654 pedestrians died and an estimated 70,000 or more were injured in motor-vehicle related pedestrian accidents. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Maryland 2003-2007)

As experienced Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers, we know what can happen when walkers find themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time -- in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

We've seen many different circumstances where car, motorcycle, SUV, and truck accidents turned even more tragic when people on foot got critically injured or killed in Maryland traffic mishaps. NHTSA recommends many of the same "common sense" methods our mothers taught us for keeping safe when traveling on foot:

1. Cross at intersections. Most people who are hit by cars are struck when they are not in a crosswalk. Some municipalities will fine drivers who fail to stop for and give right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

2. Use crossing signals. They're there for a reason. A stop light can be your best defense against being struck by a motorist who is on their cell phone with the stereo blaring, tearing down the road after a nerve-wracking day at work.

3. Look left, right, AND left again. THEN cross. Remember what mom said about looking both ways? Do it, then look left again before setting foot into the roadway. Motorists are in a terrible hurry these days. In a split second, particularly if you're crossing a curved road, a car can be fast upon you on the left -- a driver that doesn't expect to see a pedestrian in the road.

4. Make eye contact with drivers. Even drivers stopped at a stop light or stop sign. Some drivers who are not paying attention may try to make a right-hand turn after you've entered the crosswalk. There's also the problem of motorists running yellow lights or making "rolling stops" and going through stop signs. A crosswalk will not save your life if the driver still doesn't know you're there. Making eye contact is a smart safety measure.

5. Wear light-colored clothing. Have you ever had to slam on your brakes because you were driving at night, and suddenly a pedestrian appeared seemingly out of nowhere? Don't assume drivers can see you at night, even on city streets. Carry a flashlight if you have to walk on rural, poorly lit roads.

NHTSA reports that in 2007, most traffic-related pedestrian fatalities took place in urban areas (73%), in normal weather conditions (90%), at night (67%), and where people were not crossing in intersections (77%). Most victims were male. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2007 Data: Pedestrians) Children and the elderly are particularly at-risk populations for traffic pedestrian accidents -- topics we will cover in future blog entries.

Remember, even better than "walking away from an accident" is avoiding one in the first place. That's true for pedestrians as well as motorists.

NHTSA Pedestrian Safety Portal

Related Web Resources

WalkingInfo.org

Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee

July 21, 2009

Baltimore Traffic Accident Prevention: Speed Cameras May Snap Offenders at Schools and Construction Sites

State and city officials are looking at ways to curb Baltimore, Maryland car accidents caused by speeding. In May, Maryland legislators passed a law which allows speed cameras to be posted within one half mile of schools and construction sites. Now the Baltimore City Council has voted an initial thumbs-up to installing speed cameras in those vulnerable places. If the measure passes, the speed cameras could start going up around Baltimore construction sites and schools by October.

Maryland law requires that signs be posted alerting motorists that the speed cameras are in use. Speed cameras snap photos of license plates of motorists going more than 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. A $40 ticket would then be sent to the address connected to the vehicle's license plate registration. The hope is the cameras will deter speeding drivers, who can cause fatal Maryland traffic and pedestrian accidents.

Baltimore and Maryland Speeding Fatalities
According to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 216 speeding-related fatalities occurred in Maryland in 2007. There were 47 Baltimore city traffic deaths that same year, and 72 traffic fatalities for all of Baltimore County. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts Maryland, 2003-2007, NHTSA)

A Maryland accident attorney may assist families in car, truck, and motorcycle accident cases where personal injury or death may have occurred due to someone else's reckless or impaired driving. In 2008, the National Safety Council (NSC) announced that it endorses automated enforcement measures to reduce traffic accidents nationwide, including the use of red-light cameras and speed cameras.

The NSC reports that school zones, construction work sites, and railroad crossings are particularly vulnerable when motorists run through red lights and exceed the speed limit. The safety advocacy group estimates that 15,000 people die every year and hundreds of thousands suffer personal injury due to motor vehicles speeding in these areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to raise awareness of speeding as a public safety issue. Many motorists who believe "everyone speeds" don't think they will get a traffic citation if they're only driving 5 or 10 MPH above the posted speed limit.

Baltimore speed-camera measure advances
BaltimoreSun.com July 8, 2009

Speed Cameras' Image Enhanced
Senate Revives Bill to Allow Use of Technology Beyond Montgomery
The Washington Post, April 3, 2009

Related Web Resources

NHTSA: National Forum on Speeding

Wikipedia: Traffic enforcement camera

June 29, 2009

Maryland Car Accident on I-70 Kills Two; Police Blame Illegal Street Racing

A Baltimore County car crash that left two young people dead and another in critical condition is believed to have been caused by illegal drag racing, authorities report.

Two bystanders were killed and two suffered personal injury last Sunday when one car crashed into another on the westbound side of Interstate 70. Witnesses reported that a crowd had gathered to watch drag racers on the eastbound side of I-70 where the highway abruptly ends. Police had been observing this little-used area of the highway, which is tempting to amateur street racers. Cars parked on the roadside began to leave when they spotted the police cruiser. According to news reports, that's when a 2009 Chevy Impala struck the rear of a 2004 Chevy Cavalier.

The crash set off a chain reaction and two young bystanders on the shoulder of the road -- a woman age 22 and a man age 20 -- were struck and killed. A third bystander was struck and treated for serious personal injury and released, and a fourth was in critical condition at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

The stretch of highway where this fatal Maryland accident occurred is the result of a blocked expansion of the interstate into Baltimore city dating back to the 1960s. Maryland State Police and State Highway Administration officials are looking into ways to curb illegal street racing, including the use of video cameras and rumble strips.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ), there is no database of street racing related fatalities at this time. A report for law enforcement published by the DOJ (see link below) notes that illegal drag racing has been depicted in films for years, including Rebel Without a Cause, American Graffiti, and Grease, and most recently in The Fast and the Furious. Identifying drag racing locations -- such as this site in Baltimore County, Maryland where young lives of pedestrian bystanders were lost -- is among the steps the DOJ recommends for police and highway authorities who seek to curb illegal street racing in their states and communities.

Md. police look to deter racing after deadly crash
Examiner.com June 22, 2009

Related Web Resources

Racers Against Street Racing

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Street Racing: Problem-Oriented Guides for Police

June 16, 2009

Cecil County Man Killed in Hit and Run Traffic Accident

News sources reported that a man from Cecil County, Maryland, died when he was struck by a truck as he loaded a moped into his parked vehicle.

According to news reports, this Maryland hit-and-run death occurred in the early evening on June 12. The victim, a 44-year-old Elkton man, was crushed between his car and the pickup truck that hit him, driven by a 55-year old man. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Charges may be filed against the driver of the truck, pending a decision by the Cecil County State Attorney. This fatal car truck accident occurred on Elkton, Maryland area roads.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has examined hit & run car accidents in the context of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. NHTSA reports that "it is well-known to law enforcement that many drivers flee the scene of a nighttime crash to conceal their alcohol-impairment." (Source: "Open Container Laws And Alcohol Involved Crashes," NHTSA, DOT HS 809 426, April 2002.)

According to Maryland state law, drivers involved in serious motor vehicle crashes are to remain at or as close to the accident scene as possible without obstructing traffic. The exact circumstances of this fatal Cecil County traffic accident remain under investigation.

Cecil Co. Man Killed in Hit-And-Run
WBOC 16 News June 15, 2009

Related Web Resource

Cecil County Maryland Government