College Park Car Accidents
College Park, Maryland is home to the University of Maryland. Tens of thousands of students and locals pass through the area every day. This part of Prince George’s County features beautiful sights, government and industrial facilities, and heavy traffic. Drivers in the area must be particularly careful as traffic flows in and out of Washington, DC. Anyone who lives in this area is subject to just as much traffic from the nation’s capital as they see in their neighborhoods or businesses.
As drivers pass through the area, they must be aware of the risks. When motorists or their passengers are involved in car accidents, they should reach out to a College Park car accident lawyer for assistance. These accidents may result in property damage, injuries, deaths, and other issues. Drivers should be familiar with how to avoid car accidents while also understanding what they need to do in the event of a crash. It is important to understand how car accidents occur, what to do when involved in a crash, and how a lawyer can help with the recovery of compensation for injuries, deaths, or loss of property.
How Often Do Car Accidents Occur in Maryland?
Maryland averages over 500 car accident deaths and over 42,000 car accident injuries every year. Given the relatively small size of the state, these numbers point to congested roads and a potentially low standard of driving. In 2018, there were more than 111,000 car accidents. Most of these accidents are preventable, and drivers must take their duty of care to other motorists and passengers seriously. A car accident lawyer can work with injured motorists or the families of those who have died in car crashes. Because of the large number of car accidents in the state, it is no surprise that the number of roadway deaths is high. Prince George’s County also has poorly maintained roads, which increase the incidence of car accidents. While taking care to drive carefully, motorists must also understand that the road network in this area is potentially more dangerous than other suburbs of Washington, DC.
How Often are Drivers or Passengers Killed in Accidents in Prince George’s County?
Deaths caused by car accidents rose by 76 percent in Prince George’s County in 2019. As traffic continues to increase, drivers must be aware of how they can avoid potentially fatal car accidents. The list of fatalities includes bicyclists and pedestrians. Although specific figures are not available for bicyclist and pedestrian deaths, it is safe to assume that everyone on or near the road could be involved in a fatal accident. Drivers must be careful because there are small vehicles, bicycles, and people close to the road. Large truck drivers must be even more careful because their vehicles are so large, and their blind spots are even bigger than they would be in a car.
Even though many of these accidents are preventable, drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others passing through the area may be involved in an accident. When an accident does occur, victims can reach out to a car accident lawyer for help.
How can Drivers Prevent Car Accidents?
Preventing car accidents is possible for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians if everyone understands why accidents occur. Each accident scenario is easy to imagine, and anyone on the road should take special care to avoid these accidents as much as possible.
Distracted driving accidents: Although speeding is involved in 26 percent of all traffic accidents, distracted drivers who are also traveling too fast are even more dangerous. Drivers must keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. When taking phone calls in the car, a driver should use hands-free technology. Texting can be accomplished by using a speech-to-text function or the phone can be set to Do Not Disturb while driving. Messages can wait, and drivers need to remain focused, especially when no one else is in the car with them. If a driver absolutely must respond to a message, they can pull over or hand the phone to someone else in the car.
Drivers who are chatting with their passengers need to keep their eyes on the road. If the conversation is especially heated, the driver should pull over. While the driver is looking elsewhere, traffic could suddenly stop. The same is true if an officer is in the road directing traffic, a flagger is trying to stop traffic, or cones and barrels have been used to close a lane. People in the roadway are much smaller than vehicles, and they are easy to miss if drivers are distracted.
When another driver makes driving on the road tense and aggressive, let them pass so that the situation can be de-escalated. While drivers are looking at another car that has angered them, they could easily crash into someone else.
Drowsy driving: Drowsy drivers often go to work early in the morning or late at night. If a driver is tired, they should carpool, use a ridesharing service, or even pull over to rest. If these options are not available, a drowsy driver should ask a friend for a ride. Driving while drowsy reduces reaction time. Someone who could easily make an emergency stop when they are wide awake cannot react as quickly if they are yawning and their eyes are heavy. Drowsy drivers might weave or sway on the road enough to be pulled over on suspicion of driving impaired.
Drunk and impaired driving: Drunk driving has long been a major issue on the roads of the United States. Drivers who like to go out drinking must bring designated drivers with them for the evening. Additionally, drivers can call a cab or ridesharing service to get home safely. When drivers are on the road, they might notice other motorists who appear to be impaired. Someone who is making erratic maneuvers should be reported to local authorities as soon as possible. This might be the only way to prevent someone from causing an accident. Someone who is impaired by drugs, medical marijuana, or even prescription medication could be guilty of driving under the influence.
Rear-end collisions: Drivers who want to avoid rear-end collisions should keep a safe stopping distance between them and the vehicle in front of them. It can take between 265 and 303 feet to stop a vehicle at 55 miles per hour, and large trucks need even more space to stop at that same speed. Rear-end collisions can also be prevented if drivers watch the road in front of them. As drivers look ahead, they can see if everyone on the road is stopping. Drivers also need to be aware of stop-and-start traffic when roads are congested. As drivers stop and start, they could easily bump into another vehicle.
Reckless drivers: Reckless drivers are easy to see as they cut across traffic and even use the shoulder to pass. Although these drivers are dangerous, there is nothing that can be done from another vehicle. Motorists need to stay away from these drivers and report them to local authorities. Although some drivers may believe they are not acting recklessly, it is clear they are driving unsafely when they engage in the following actions:
- Cut across traffic to reach an exit ramp
- Cut off other drivers
- Drive too slowly in the passing lane
- Ride too closely to large trucks
- Leave their lights off at night
- Do not signal when changing lanes
Ridesharing accidents: Ridesharing accidents often occur because the driver might make sudden stops. Ridesharing drivers have stickers that indicate for which service they work. Other motorists can see these stickers, and it is best to give these drivers extra space.
A car accident lawyer can consult victims after any of these accidents. Certain accidents may require third-party lawsuits or lengthy investigations to understand what has occurred.
Do Teenagers Pose a Significant Risk of Causing Car Accidents?
Teenagers are naturally inexperienced compared to other drivers. Teenagers may not understand how to deal with certain situations they encounter. Simple situations that adults take for granted must be explained to young drivers. This little bit of instruction goes a long way in helping young motorists learn to drive safely. Parents are responsible for helping teenagers understand how to comport themselves on the road. Although teenagers must go through a testing and permit process to gain a full driver’s license, they should ride with their parents as much as possible.
Parents can encourage teens to drive on short trips and learn how to drive with people in the car. When teens are given the chance to drive short distances, they experience very quickly. Teens who drive short distances to school gain even more experience on top of their parents’ encouragement. Teenagers are not allowed to drive at night while gaining a full driver’s license, but parents should give their young drivers tips for driving at night. Parents should allow a teenager to soak up as much information as possible before they are set free to drive as much as they like.
Inexperienced drivers also pose problems for other motorists on the road. Someone who obtains their license when they are older might find themselves challenged with the task of driving. A good idea is to start a carpool so that there are other people in the car to help the driver. For example, an inexperienced driver who is older might drive one leg of a carpool, while someone else drives the other leg.
Are a Victim’s Injuries Easy to Pinpoint?
Injuries can occur at any speed. One of the most prevalent injuries is whiplash. Whiplash is not obvious to drivers, but it often includes shoulder pain, neck pain, sleeplessness, and an inability to focus. Cuts and scrapes are easy to see, but drivers often assume that these wounds will heal on their own. Drivers and passengers should go to the doctor or emergency room as soon as possible to be checked out. These invisible injuries can worsen over time and cause discomfort for years to come.
Visible injuries should be treated at the scene by EMTs or in the emergency room. All injuries will be documented when drivers and passengers visit a doctor. Without this documentation, it is difficult to prove that an injury occurred during the accident. Drivers and passengers might also want to take pictures of the accident scene and their injuries as proof that they were hurt. Additionally, a police report will note that an ambulance responded to the accident and that injuries were evident.
What Happens if the Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
The state of Maryland requires drivers to carry at least $30,000 of uninsured motorist coverage with a cap of $60,000 per accident. This means that drivers must carry appropriate insurance to drive legally in the state. When a driver is uninsured, the victim’s insurance company will cover all damages. The uninsured driver will be cited for a lack of insurance, and they can be sued for any damages, injuries, or deaths that occurred.
When can Drivers File a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Party?
Injured drivers may file a lawsuit against the responsible driver or party. Passengers can file suit if they are hurt by a driver’s negligence, and the family of someone who has died in a car accident may file a wrongful death claim. Lawsuits stemming from car accidents can seek damages in the following forms:
- Damages to cover all medical bills
- Damages to pay for the victim’s recovery
- Money to cover property damage
- Payment for pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Medical bills can be recorded and provided to the court as proof that the defendant should be responsible for these bills. The victim may also face a long recovery, and their lawyer can calculate how much that recovery will cost. Doctor statements and medical experts can testify to how much it costs to recover from a wide range of injuries.
Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, may become part of the lawsuit, and punitive damages could be handed down by a judge or jury to punish the driver. It is important to remember that the lawyer must request all these damages as part of the lawsuit. If the lawsuit does not petition for these damages, the judge or jury will not consider them.
Given the remarkably high number of fatal car accidents in Prince George’s County, victims must be aware of rules governing wrongful death lawsuits in Maryland. A spouse, parent, or child must file a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland. If none of these family members remain, another family member can show they were dependent on the deceased. If none of these situations applies, the executor or representative of the deceased’s estate can file the lawsuit.
Those wishing to file a personal injury claim after a car accident may also find that third parties were factors in an accident. For example, a large truck sideswiped a car and caused extensive injuries. It might be found that the manufacturer of the truck built a defective product, or the owner of the truck did not service the vehicle properly. Both the manufacturer and owner can be subject to a third-party lawsuit. Construction companies, municipal authorities, and other companies might have created hazardous conditions on the road, and they can be named in a lawsuit as well. Victims should ask a car accident lawyer how the lawsuit should be managed.
Should a Lawyer Be Retained?
Drivers in Maryland should retain a lawyer when they have been hurt in an accident. Unfortunately, at-fault drivers can claim that their victims played a part in the accident. This is a defense tactic used in Maryland because the state uses contributory negligence to litigate these accidents. When drivers get out of the car after an accident and instinctively apologize, that can be used against them in court. A poorly written police report can negate a victim’s lawsuit. If the defense can show that the victim was even one percent responsible for the accident, the victim cannot recover damages.
It is important to retain a lawyer after an accident who can build a case around the circumstances of the accident and show that the victim did nothing to cause their injuries or someone’s death. If someone was killed in a car accident, the at-fault driver can claim that the deceased caused the accident. The deceased cannot defend themselves, and a lawyer must investigate the case to understand what happened.
Settlements may be reached if the defendant or plaintiff does not want to go to trial. Lawyers will negotiate a settlement to keep the case out of court, and they can explain if settling is the best thing to do. Without a lawyer’s support, Maryland drivers could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation that they are due when they have done nothing to cause the accident that injured them or killed a loved one. Victims of car accidents should speak to a lawyer immediately after an accident.
College Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Assist Car Accident Victims
If you were injured in a car accident, reach out to the College Park car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our team investigates and determines liability in car accidents every day. We are committed to providing individualized attention to every client that we represent. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Located in Washington, DC, we work with car accident victims throughout Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.