Auto accidents are by far the leading basis of personal injury lawsuits nationally. Over 40,000 people a year are killed in car accidents, which amounts to one death every 12 minutes. Someone is injured in a car accident every 14 seconds and about two million of those injured each year suffer permanent injuries. The cost of car accidents in 2005 alone exceeded 230 billion dollars. While the vast majority of Maryland car accidents are caused by drivers who are negligent or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, defective automobiles or dangerous road conditions can also be the cause of a car accident.
Causes of Car Accidents
There are a several common causes that tend to be involved in car accidents resulting in injury. One or more of the causes below are typically involved in car accidents resulting in injuries.
• Negligence: This is the most common cause of car accidents. A driver is negligent if he fails to act as a reasonable ordinary person under similar circumstances. The question of whether a driver has met the “reasonable person standard” is usually a question for the jury to determine. This is a general standard and the causes below can be an example of negligence.
• Drug or Alcohol Use: Drunk driving accounted for 11,773 car accident fatalities in 2008 which amounts to 32% of the total number of all accident fatalities. Every 30 minutes someone in the U.S. is killed in an alcohol related accident. A driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when involved in a car accident that injures another driver will typically be considered to have violated the “reasonable person standard.”
• Defective Automobile: Car accidents sometimes result from a defect in the automobile that poses an unsafe risk. Under Maryland product liability law a supplier or manufacturer of a product may be liable for injuries caused by a defective product. When a defect in the automobile’s brakes or tires, for example, cause an accident resulting in injury to another person, the seller or the manufacturer may be liable regardless of whether the seller or manufacturer was negligent. Recent Toyota acceleration accidents are an example of a product liability theory in car accident cases.
• Dangerous Road Conditions: Sometimes inadequately maintained roads or traffic signs or signals can contribute to a car accident resulting in injuries. This type of accident can be caused by poor roadway construction or maintenance such as obscured traffic signals or poorly placed utility poles. A Maryland car accident lawyer will typically consider naming a governmental entity as a defendant in such a situation. When suing a government entity, there are often special requirements that include giving notice to the governmental body. These notice requirements often involve shorter time limits than the typical statute of limitations so time is of the essence in retaining a qualified Maryland car accident lawyer.
Other Potential Defendants
While the driver of a vehicle usually will be one of the parties named as a defendant in a car accident lawsuit, a qualified Maryland car accident lawyer will often seek to name other defendants. If a driver is uninsured or underinsured, the ability to name other defendants who have contributed to the accident is even more important. Common parties that may also be named as defendants include the following:
• Employer: An employer of a driver may be liable for injuries caused by his employee who is involved in a Maryland car accident. The Maryland car accident lawyer will seek to establish that an employment relationship existed and that the accident occurred in the course of the driver’s employment.
• Governmental Entity: A Maryland car accident lawyer may seek to include a governmental entity as a defendant where roadway design or conditions contribute to a car accident. Lawsuits against governmental entities typically have special rules and time limits. Most states have laws that require a formal notice procedure with shorter time limits than the normal statute of limitations requirements. Because of the shorter notice requirement, a qualified Maryland car accident lawyer should be consulted immediately.
• Car Manufacturer/Seller: The seller or the manufacturer of a car may be named as a defendant under a product liability theory as discussed above.
• Tavern or Social Host: A bar or social host can be liable if they serve an obviously intoxicated person who then drives and injures or kills someone in an accident.
There are a number of different factors that may be considered in making a determination of negligence under Maryland car accident law. Some common factors include:
• Failure to comply with traffic signs/signals
• Failure to obey speed limits
• Driving too fast given road/weather conditions
• Driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol
• Improper or excessive lane changing
• Improper passing
If you or someone you love have suffered injuries in a car accident, a Maryland car accident lawyer can help you seek compensation for your injuries including medical expenses, lost wages, future lost income and other appropriate compensation. If you need a Maryland car accident lawyer, click here.