Fatal DUI Crash in Maryland Demonstrates the Dangers of Impairment
Maryland State Police recently confirmed that they had completed their investigation into a drunk driving accident that led to the deaths of two individuals in April. Baltimore’s ABC News Channel 7 WJLA provided an account of the crash and findings by officials, noting that the incident involved a rear-end collision. One victim, a 70-year-old woman, was traveling southbound on Route 301 when she approached an intersection controlled by a traffic light. The other victim, a 67-year-old man, was stopped in his vehicle at the light facing southbound. The woman crashed into the male victim’s Toyota Scion at a high speed, sending both vehicles approximately 230 feet through the intersection.
The man was pronounced dead on the scene, while the woman died after being transported to a local hospital. It was later determined that she had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .13%, well in excess of Maryland’s legal limit of .08%. Under the circumstances, the male victim’s family may have legal options to pursue compensation after the fatal DUI collision, including a wrongful death claim. You should discuss your remedies with a Maryland drunk driving accident attorney if you recently lost a loved one under similar circumstances, but some general information may be helpful.
How Impairment Played a Role in the Recent Maryland DUI Crash
The Maryland State Police statement on the drunk driving accident alludes to the link between intoxication and the causes behind the crash. For instance:
- A BAC of .13 has a significant impact on the human brain and body, as described in more detail below.
- If the woman had survived, she would face numerous traffic citations in addition to drunk driving charges. Police noted that the primary cause of the crash was failure to control speed to avoid a collision. The statement also mentions that she exceeded the speed limit and ran a red light.
- Officials indicated that driver impairment was a contributing factor, as was operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner.
What Impairment Does to the Human Body
Maryland lawmakers have established a legal limit of .08% BAC, along with a zero tolerance of .02% for minors and .04% for holders of commercial driver’s licenses. However, these figures have more meaning when you know how your brain and body operate at certain BAC levels. There are effects even under .08%, as a person feels more relaxed and experiences a slight impairment of reasoning. The implications get more serious as BAC rises, so:
- At .08%, a motorist is impaired in terms of balance, speech, and muscle control.
- Up to .12% BAC, a driver’s abilities and thinking are severely impaired. Slurred speech, inability to focus, and motor skill dysfunction are common.
- The woman with a .13% BAC may have experienced gross impairment of motor control, major loss of balance, and complete lack of muscle coordination.
Liability in Maryland DUI Accidents
Despite the fact that a collision may have been caused by drunk driving, these cases proceed in very much the same way as other motor vehicle crashes. You must prove the essential elements of negligence, which are:
- The other motorist had a duty to drive with reasonable care, so as to not cause a risk of harm to others sharing the road;
- That person breached this legal duty through careless, unsafe driving;
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident in which you were injured or lost a loved one; and,
- You suffered losses as a result of the collision.
When a driver’s BAC is .08% or more, the issue relates to the second element above. A motorist is engaging in carelessness by driving drunk because it puts others in danger of serious accidents. That person is also violating Maryland law; a DUI conviction is not necessary to prevail in a civil case, but it does act as powerful evidence of negligence.
How to Recover Monetary Damages After a DUI Accident
Much like liability issues, the legal process is also similar when an auto collision is caused by drunk driving. As a victim, you will still file a claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company. You might expect to receive payment quickly, especially when toxicology reports or the results of a chemical test indicate DUI. However, insurers are looking out for their own financial interests when you file a claim. The claims adjuster may deny payment entirely or make a lowball counteroffer to settle.
Your next option is pursuing your DUI crash claim in court, and there are numerous tasks involved with litigation, including:
- Preparing the complaint and filing it with the court;
- Attending court for regularly schedule appearances and status conferences;
- Conducting documentary discovery to obtain documents, information, and tangible objects;
- Working through depositions of witnesses, including testifying medical experts;
- Appearing for your own deposition;
- Pursuing and defending motions during the pretrial process; and,
- Going to a trial on the merits.
Seeking Monetary Damages for Your Losses
Regardless of whether you settle your claim or go to court, the point of compensation is to put you in the same position as if the accident never happened. Victims may be able to recover medical costs, lost wages, funeral and burial costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses as economic damages. You may also qualify for such noneconomic damages as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.