In Maryland and other states, when there is a one-vehicle accident there may nonetheless be a claim for injury or death damages arising out of the accident. That would be the case when a passenger in the vehicle was seriously injured or killed due to the driver’s negligence. Although negligent drivers cannot normally collect personal injury or death damages from motor vehicle accidents involving solely their own vehicles, a claim may accrue to an innocent passenger in the vehicle.
The foregoing principle will likely hold true in connection with an accident that occurred on Feb. 19 on Appleton Road near Elkton. A 19-year-old female operator of a sedan inexplicably veered over the center line of the highway and traveled off the other side of the road where it thereafter collided violently into a tree, according to the Maryland State Police. The impact left a devastating picture of a thoroughly mangled vehicle reduced to rubble and shattered into several separate sections.
After responders extricated the driver and passenger from the tangled remains of the vehicle, the authorities declared them dead. The double-fatal one-car accident occurred at about noon on that date. There is at this time no word on why the operator lost control of the car. Some common causes are distraction, falling asleep and impairment by alcohol or drugs.
The Maryland State Police reported that its forensic investigative agency conducted a lengthy investigation at the scene. In general, when an operator suddenly loses control and crosses the highway, causing a collision with another vehicle or with an inanimate object, the operator in most cases is found to be negligent. When the negligence is a substantial factor in causing injury or death to the passenger, there is a claim for personal injury or wrongful death damages against the driver. If the driver died in the accident as in this case, the claim for damages would be made against the driver’s estate. The estate will do best by obtaining the services of an attorney who is experienced in handling death claims from motor vehicle accidents, which will assure protection of the claimant’s rights and that a maximum recovery will be sought.