Monday, October 31, 2011

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Maryland

A large number of Maryland drivers are uninsured. Too often these individuals cause automobile accidents that result in injuries to the other driver. Fortunately, in Maryland, the injured victim can pursue an uninsured/underinsured automobile accident insurance claim. This type of claim is available in two situations:

1. Uninsured motorist - the negligent driver has no auto insurance coverage

2. Underinsured motorist - the negligent driver has insufficient liability insurance limits that cannot cover the injured victim's damages, and the negligent driver's policy limits are lower than the limits of the victims uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Maryland unisured/underinsured motorist coverage is insurance coverage that covers your auto accident just as your liability insurance would provide compensation for an individual who you might injure as a result of careless driving. In Maryland, unisured/underinsured coverage usually extends to family members living in the household of the insured and passengers.

Tragic Baltimore City Automobile Accident Leaves Two Dead

As a Baltimore City resident, I am stunned by the recent accident in Fells Point which resulted in two fatalities. The authorities believe that speeding was the cause and that is the main reason for my astonishment. Fells Point is rife with many problems including drunk bar patrons and crime, but that seems to come with the territory. What doesn't come with the territory is speeding and fatal car accidents. Such incidents are typically saved for I-95 or the Beltway. It is relatively impossible to speed on the streets of Fells Point. Fells Point has traffic lights, cross walks and stop signs at every intersection, and half of the streets are cobblestone. Not to mention the almost constant pedestrian traffic common to Baltimore City neighborhoods with an abundance of bars, restaurants and shops.

What I am getting at is that in order for someone to speed in Fells Point that person would really have to try hard. I understand speeding on I-95 or 695. Maybe a driver is just keeping up with the pace of traffic or there is no one else on the road, but speeding in a crowded city neighborhood, that act seems intentional and reckless. This accident occurred on Bank Street at 10:30p.m. on a Thursday. Thursday is a popular night for college students (and those who still act like they are in college) and there is no doubt that Fells Point was crowded with cars an pedestrians which makes this driver's conduct so alarming.

The preliminary investigation, based on witness accounts, reveals that the driver of a Dodge Durango, who was killed in the accident, was at fault and was most likely speeding. Also killed was a passenger in the other vehicle, an 18 year old Stevenson University student. The 18 year old died in her boyfriend's arms. The boyfriend, who was the driver of the other vehicle, will have to live with the memory of this tragedy for the rest of his life, not to mention the injuries he suffered as a result of the impact. The at fault driver in this case had a history of speeding and was convicted of driving 30mph over the posted speed limit in June 2010 (most likely the speed was reduced) and had a pending charge of driving 57mph in a 30-mph zone. A Maryland wrongful death lawyer could help the family of the young lady who was killed pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent driver, and a Maryland accident attorney could help the young man who survived the crash pursue a Maryland personal injury claim. The personal injury attorneys at Portner & Shure are experienced and skilled in both wrongful death claims and automobile accident injury claims.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Is the Difference in Maryland Between a Survival and a Wrongful Death Action?

When an automobile accident, truck accident or doctor's negligence results in a fatality there are two separate claims that can be made on behalf of the victim's family and estate. A Maryland wrongful death attorney can bring a wrongful death action. This type of claim is brought by the immediate relatives of the victim. In a wrongful death claim the family seeks to recover for their losses resulting from the accidental death of a loved one. A Maryland personal injury lawyer can also bring what is called a survival action on behalf of the victim's estate. A survival action claims recovery for the injuries suffered by the decedent including the pain and suffering and other damages and actual expenses incurred by the victim up until the time of death.

In a wrongful death action in Maryland, the amount immediate family members can recover is determined by the emotional and financial harm they experienced as a result of their loss. In a wrongful death case the estate of the decedent is not involved and the family members of the victim are acting entirely on their own behalf. In a survival action in Maryland, the amount the decedent's estate can recover is determined by the harm to the actual victim. The representative of the estate brings the lawsuit on behalf of the decedent.

The Maryland personal injury attorneys and Maryland wrongful death lawyers at Portner & Shure are experienced in handling these types of lawsuits. Our attorneys balance professionalism, aggressiveness and compassion when we represent client's who have lost a loved one.

What Is Contributory Negligence in a Maryland Automobile Accident Case?

Maryland is one of five states that uses contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence. The majority of states use the doctrine of comparative negligence which means, when both the victim and the defendant contributed to an accident by failing to exercise a reasonable degree of care and caution, each party's degree of liability is apportioned. The total amount that an accident victim is awarded is lessened in direct relation to his or her own negligence. For instance, if a jury found that an accident victim was entitled to $1,000,000.00 in damages but found that the victim was 20% at fault, the jury award would be $800,000.00.

Maryland's contributory negligence doctrine is more cut throat and can be a complete bar to an injured victim's recovery. Maryland personal injury attorneys often struggle to help clients because of this all or nothing rule. Under contributory negligence, the accident victim's failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care and caution, no matter how slight, is an absolute bar to recovery. If the defendant's lawyer can convince a jury that the victim was only 1% at fault, that individual will not recover any damages.

Maryland personal injury lawyers have been struggling against the doctrine of contributory negligence since it was adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 1847. In 1868, accident victims received some reprieve when the Court of Appeals adopted the last clear chance doctrine. The last clear chance doctrine allows recovery by an accident victim, who would other wise be barred from recovery due to contributory negligence, if the defendant had the last chance to avoid the accident. When the defendant is negligent and the victim is contributorily negligent, the Plaintiff can still recover damages if there is a showing that something new or sequential affords the defendant a fresh opportunity to avert the consequences of his original negligence.

New Texting Law in Force in Maryland

Starting October 1, 2011, reading a text message or an email from behind the wheel will cost a driver up to $500 in fines. Maryland's new law, barring the reading of texts while driving, clarifies the existing texting while driving rules. Up until this point, drivers were barred from writing text messages while driving but were allowed to read them. Law enforcement authorities have already commented that police officers will begin enforcing the law immediately.

Police in Maryland have issued 587 warnings and 379 traffic citations for texting while driving and 4,021 warnings and 5,227 traffic citations to drivers talking on cell phones since the initial ban was put in place two years ago. The law still provides an exception for drivers who are texting emergency operators or using phone GPS systems.

Drivers who are ticketed can still choose to pay a $70 fine an accept guilt, which would add a point to their license; if the texting leads to an accident, accepting guilt would mean paying a $110 fine and three points on the license. If a driver chooses to contest the ticket in court, that individual runs the risk of being found guilty of a misdemeanor and having to pay up to a $500 fine. If you were involved in an accident that resulted from the other driver texting while driving contact the Maryland personal injury attorneys at Portner & Shure.