Jill Kolodner | August 2, 2023 | Car Accidents
You could go to jail after a fatal car accident that you cause in Baltimore, Maryland. It depends on the facts of the case and the criminal charges you face. At the same time, you could also face a civil lawsuit by the family of the deceased for wrongful death caused by negligence or intentional torts.
Criminal Penalties for Fatal Car Accidents in Baltimore
Maryland has several laws that apply to fatal car accidents. The circumstances of the crash dictate which of the charges the prosecutor might bring. Prosecutors analyze the evidence and base the charges on what they believe they can win in court.
Criminal charges for a fatal car accident in Baltimore could include:
Hit-and-Run Causing a Fatality
Maryland Transportation Code §20-102 requires drivers to stop and remain at an accident scene that causes bodily injury. Fleeing an accident scene when you could have known or should have reasonably known the crash could result in a person’s death is a felony. A conviction can result in a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to ten years in prison.
Manslaughter by Vehicle
This charge requires the prosecutor to prove that your gross negligence caused the car accident. Gross negligence is a reckless disregard for human life. The result is a felony charge that carries up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 for a first offense.
Criminally Negligent Manslaughter by Vehicle
Criminal negligence means that a person should have been aware that their conduct created an unjustifiable risk to others but continued with the conduct nonetheless. It is a gross deviation of the standard of care a reasonable person would have used. A conviction for a first offense can result in up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
DUI Negligent Homicide by Vehicle
If you kill someone while driving under the influence, you can face a felony charge. A conviction for a first offense carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to five years in prison. A second conviction has a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to ten years in prison.
Homicide by a Motor Vehicle While Impaired by a Controlled Substance, Alcohol, or Drugs
Causing a fatal accident while driving impaired is also a felony charge. The maximum fine for a first offense is $5,000 and up to three years in prison. A second offense increases the penalty to a maximum of $10,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.
Civil Lawsuits for Wrongful Death Caused by Car Accidents in Baltimore
If your loved one was killed in a car accident in Baltimore, the driver may be charged with one of the above crimes. However, the criminal case does not hold the person responsible for the damages the deceased’s family experiences because of the sudden loss of a family member.
Family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court seeking compensation for damages. The primary beneficiaries have the right to file the lawsuit. Primary beneficiaries include the deceased’s spouse, children, and parents.
Second beneficiaries may file a wrongful death lawsuit if no primary beneficiaries exist. Those individuals include blood relatives who depend financially on the deceased person for support. In some cases, it could include individuals related by marriage.
A wrongful death lawsuit is separate and apart from any criminal charges. Therefore, the family can file a lawsuit in civil court regardless of the state’s decision on whether to file charges or the outcome of a criminal case.
What Damages Can a Family Receive for a Fatal Car Accident in Baltimore?
Money does not ease a family’s pain after losing a loved one. However, it can help family members with expenses and bills. Holding the person responsible for their loved one’s death can also provide some measure of justice and closure.
Damages for a wrongful death case include:
- Reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages and income the deceased would have earned had they lived
- Mental anguish
- Loss of comfort, companionship, and marital care
- Reimbursement for medical expenses between the accident date and the date of death
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland is generally three years from the date of death. The court can dismiss cases filed after the statute of limitations expires.
Three years sounds like a long time. However, the sooner you contact a Maryland wrongful death lawyer, the better.
Evidence can disappear or be destroyed over time. Even if the person is convicted in criminal court, you have the burden of proving your case in civil court. Therefore, you want an attorney to begin working on the case quickly to preserve the evidence you need to prove your case.
Dealing with legal matters after a fatal car accident can be overwhelming. Hiring a lawyer to handle matters can ease the burden and stress a family experiences after the sudden death of a loved one.
Contact the Baltimore Car Accident Law Firm of WGK Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
WGK Personal Injury Lawyers
14 W Madison St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States