Personal Injury Lawyers

Fatal D.C. Car Accident May Require UM, UIM Insurance Claim

A D.C. man was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while changing a tire on Baltimore-Washington Parkway one recent Sunday night. His 28-year-old fiancée, who was also injured, is expected to survive.

His mother’s only child, he left behind three children, including a teenage son and daughter who were with him when he was struck, but were not injured. Police have identified the vehicle they believe was involved in the crash, and indicate a person of interest has also been located and interviewed.

AmbulanceHit-and-run accidents are unfortunately very common in D.C., which had the highest rate of fatal hit-and-run drivers in the country between 2000 and 2009, according to a report from Mid-Atlantic AAA. The percentage of hit-and-run deaths here was 16.3 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities. By comparison, hit-and-runs accounted for 4.5 percent of traffic deaths in Maryland and 2.4 percent in Virginia.

Nationally, an estimated 16,400 people were killed in hit-and-run crashes between 2000 and 2009.

Washington D.C. accident lawyers know that usually, people who flee the scene are drunk, unlicensed or driving in vehicles that are unregistered or uninsured.

In addition to the emotional damage victims suffer as a result of the indignity of the offender’s actions, there are also practical implications. For example, there is no way to collect on an at-fault driver’s insurance policy if the driver is never found. Or even if the driver is identified, he or she may not have insurance or may only carry the minimum amount.

In these situations, victims and survivors may seek compensation through their own auto insurance company through uninsured motorist /underinsured motorist coverage.

D.C. follows a no-fault car insurance law, which essentially says motorists have to pursue coverage through their own carrier first, and can’t sue one another unless the case involves substantial and permanent scarring, disfigurement, impairment, disability or death. But if the at-fault driver is never identified or has no insurance, UM/UIM coverage is a possible remedy.

Each driver in D.C. is required to carry minimum UM/UIM benefits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This ensures that medical bills can still be paid even if one of those involved in the crash didn’t have insurance or lacked enough insurance to cover all damages.

These benefits are available to motorists even when they aren’t actually driving. So for example, this driver changing a tire on the roadside when struck would likely be eligible for UM/UIM benefits, assuming the at-fault driver is either not identified or lacks adequate insurance coverage. The same would go for a cyclist and possibly even a pedestrian, depending on the situation and individual policy language.

Another possible avenue of compensation worth exploring is a claim of vicarious liability. This would usually arise if the hit-and-run driver is later identified and was operating a vehicle that did not belong to them, but which they had permission to drive. Vehicle owners have a broad responsibility to ensure their cars – considered a type of dangerous instrumentality – aren’t driven recklessly. When they fail to do this, it could be grounds for a vicarious liability claim.

In cases of impaired hit-run drivers, our attorneys might also explore the possibility of dram shop litigation against the provider of the alcohol, particularly if the driver was underage.

Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit www.slocumblaw.com.

EZ Pass Could Prevent Speeding Deaths in Maryland

Driving too fast on freeways and expressways endangers drivers throughout Baltimore, Montgomery, Prattville and surrounding areas. A personal injury lawyer knows that about a third of all car accidents that cause death in the United States involved speeding. The majority of fatal speeding-related accidents -- 38 percent -- happen on minor local roads. However, highways are the second most common site of deadly crashes involving drivers who are traveling at excessive speeds. smart-456070-m

Recently, some states - including Maryland - have taken a novel approach to try to crack down on the speeding that is occurring on highways. These states have partnered with EZ Pass, the electronic-toll collection device that drivers can buy and put on their windshield if they want to pay tolls without having to stop at toll plazas.

Maryland, along with Pennsylvania and New York, are the first three states to try encouraging drivers to slow down through a partnership with EZ Pass, according to Fox News. If their efforts are successful, then other locations throughout the United States may consider taking a similar approach. There are 15 states with EZ Pass and others that have their own proprietary electronic toll devices, so this could make a big difference in reducing overall traffic fatalities due to speeding … if it works.

Could EZ Pass Help to Stop Speeding?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a total of 10,219 people died on U.S. roadways over the course of 2012 as a result of crashes involving excessive speed. Excessive speed has been a factor in 30 percent of car accident deaths for more than a decade. On highways alone, there were 1,185 people killed in speeding crashes in 2012.

Drivers who speed are more likely to lose control of their cars. They are less likely to be able to stop in time to react to things that the driver in front of them does or to obstacles that come in their path.

Drivers can reduce the risk of deadly crashes by slowing down and avoiding going over posted limits. Motorists also need to consider road conditions and drive at a speed that is appropriate for the current weather.

Many motorists, however, go faster than is permitted. Some of these motorists will now be in danger of losing their EZ Passes.

The efforts to use EZ Pass to reduce speeding impose penalties on drivers who go too fast through toll plazas. The EZ Pass will monitor driver speed as the motorists pass through. While a motorist who is going too fast is not going to be ticketed or get points on a license (at least under the current systems), he could face the suspension of the EZ Pass.

In Maryland, the speed limit for toll plazas is set at 30 miles-per-hour. In the event that a driver goes 12 MPH or more over this limit two separate times in a six month period, the driver’s EZ Pass will be suspended for 60 days.

Hopefully motorists will slow down to save their EZ Passes and will continue to operate their vehicles at this lower speed when they leave the toll plaza. If they do, many lives could be saved.

Accident lawyers in Montgomery, Alabama can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE or visit www.slocumblaw.com.  Serving Montgomery, Prattville, and surrounding areas.