Laurel Personal Injury Lawyer
Situated in the northern portion of Prince George's County, Laurel, Maryland, started as a modest manufacturing town and has since become a thriving suburban community. Based on 2010 census figures, Laurel is home to more than 25,000 people, comprising around 10,500 households and approximately 5,700 families.
Taken on its own, Laurel's city limits encompass less than 4 square miles; however, along with the neighboring communities of North, West and South Laurel, these four related communities total just over 20 square miles and boast a combined population of around 60,000. With mostly mild winters and comfortable spring/fall seasons, it's not uncommon for a tightly packed residential community such as Laurel to exhibit almost year-round pedestrian activity and bicycle use.Pedestrian-Vehicle Accident Risks
With such a large number of residents living in a relatively small geographic area, there will inevitably be mixing of motor vehicle traffic with persons on foot, as well as those traveling by bicycle, with occasional tragic results. Laurel's numerous surface streets and highly-trafficked roadways — such as U.S. Route 1 (alternately referred to as Baltimore Avenue or Washington Boulevard), the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Maryland Route 198 — can be the scene of a variety of truck, automobile and motorcycle collisions, as well as pedestrian incidents.
Fatal motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents are always a possibility, especially in areas with numerous commercial and retail establishments. Pedestrian injury accidents do occur at crosswalks, but many more take place outside of marked crossing areas (i.e. jaywalking-related), as well as other locations where people and vehicular traffic are in close proximity such as parking decks and large retail parking lots. And while vehicle-pedestrian accidents are less frequent than other traffic incidents involving two or more vehicles, the result of a car-pedestrian crash can often be fatal.
Pedestrian crashes involve at least one motor vehicle and one person on foot near a public roadway. Whether the individual is standing, walking, jogging, riding a bicycle or simply exiting their vehicle on a roadside to help a fellow motorist, a person near a busy street or highway is extremely vulnerable even when the motor vehicle involved is not traveling at a high rate of speed.
In the city of Laurel, local police reports indicate that an average of 10 pedestrians are involved in a traffic-related accident annually. This average is based on five years of data (2017-2021) collected by the Laurel Police Department. While many pedestrian-related traffic accidents are the result of direct impacts, some pedestrians can be indirectly injured as a result of a two-car or multi-vehicle collision. The ways in which a person on foot can be hurt or killed by a nearby traffic collision include the following:
- Flying Debris: Some high-energy traffic accidents can result in parts of one or more vehicles to be broken loose and thrown across the roadway, striking a bystander(s). Objects such as wheels, tires, hubcaps, exhaust pipes or mufflers, window glass, or body parts can strike pedestrian standing many yards away
- Secondary Collision: After the initial impact between two moving vehicles, one or more of the vehicles could continue to travel in the same direction as a person standing on a sidewalk or using a crosswalk, causing potentially severe injury
- Pinning: A pedestrian can occasionally become pinned underneath or between a vehicle and another object, such as an adjacent building or a parked car or bus
- Indirect Impact: The force of some traffic accidents can result in a shockwave that can knock a person to the ground, causing them to hit their head on the sidewalk, brick wall or parked car causing potentially serious head or neck injuries
- Panic-induced: A sudden, loud noise from the collision of two motor vehicles can startle bystanders to the point that they may try to quickly flee the area, possibly tripping and falling in the process. Others, in their haste to escape the mayhem, may run unknowingly into the path of other vehicle traffic, resulting in serious injury or death
- Psychological Trauma: Witnessing a bad auto accident or mass transit crash can be a very traumatic experience for some individuals. The potential for psychological distress (such as PTSD, sleep disorders or fear of certain places or situations) as a result of seeing a devastating car accident should not be discounted or taken for granted
Based on the vulnerability of any person on foot near a busy street, it should be easy to understand how pedestrian accidents typically result in a much higher fatality rate than other types of car and truck accidents. In fact, while pedestrian-related traffic accidents made up about three percent of all roadway crashes in 2021, they accounted for a stunning 23 percent of traffic fatalities. To put this in perspective, over the five year period between 2017 and 2021, one out of every four people who died in a Maryland roadway accident was a pedestrian.Don't Become a Traffic Accident Statistic
It's important to note that pedestrian-involved crashes are more likely to occur on weekends, with evenings being a more risky time of the day to be crossing the street on foot. On average, Friday is a peak day for pedestrian-related accidents; but keep in mind that the highest percentage of fatal crashes take place on Saturdays. Data from MDOT show that over half of all vehicle-pedestrian collisions take place between 2pm and 10pm, while half of all fatality-involved pedestrian crashes occurred between 6pm and midnight.
Furthermore, young men are at greater risk of injury or death in pedestrian-related crashes, as they account for 56 percent of all injured pedestrians and 72 percent of all fatal pedestrian collisions. Also, younger drivers, as well as pedestrians, in the age range of 20-34 years, tend to account for a large percentage of pedestrian-related incidents. One quarter of drivers involved in a car-pedestrian accident are under 35 years old, while individuals between the ages of 20 and 34 accounted for 28 percent of injury-related pedestrian crashes. Finally, it is older individuals — those 50 or more years old — who make up 44 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents.Pedestrian Accident Injury Claims
When it comes to traffic accidents involving pedestrians, the human body is no match for even the smallest passenger car, much less a large SUV or commercial delivery truck. A long-term study published in 1999 by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) quantified the range and extent of injuries sustained in vehicle-pedestrian accidents.
This study represents data collected from 13 separate Level I and II trauma centers in a major urban area over a three-year period. The study group of 5,000 pedestrian accident victims was comprised of three separate age groups: Pediatric — Under 15 years old (38.1%); Adult — 15 to 65 years old (53.9%); and Elderly — over 65 years old (8%). The study's general findings include the following:Type / Area of Injury
- Musculoskeletal (34.3%)
- Head / Neck (30.0%)
- External (24.4%)
- Abdomen / Pelvis (3.9%)
- Chest (2.4%)
- Spine (1.8%)
- Other (3.2%)
- Orthopedic (67%)
- Abdominal (11%)
- Neurosurgical / Head (6%)
- Thoracic (2%)
- Other (14%)
- Elderly (27.8%)
- Adults (8.1%)
- Pediatric (3.1%)
- Temporary Disability (78%)
- Functioning at Pre-admission Capacity (16%)
- Permanent Handicap (4%)
It goes without saying that elderly victims fare the worst when it comes to traffic accidents involving pedestrians. But anyone, no matter what their age or level of physical fitness, can be fatally injured if struck by a motor vehicle. When the unthinkable happens, it can be devastating for the victim's family — not only in terms of the sudden loss of a cherished loved one, but often in terms of the family's financial well-being. The unexpected death of a breadwinner can cause financial upheaval within a very short period of time.
In such cases, family members of the deceased may decide to file a claim for wrongful death against the responsible party(s). Maryland's Wrongful Death Statute allows a deceased victim’s surviving family members to pursue compensation for their loved one’s death. By doing so, survivors can sue for not only lost financial support that the family would have received had the victim not died, but also for the loss of the deceased’s love, support and companionship — in legal terms, the “loss of consortium.”
In the case of a fatal pedestrian accident, plaintiffs must show that the driver of the car that struck their loved one acted negligently. To do so, the plaintiffs must prove 1) that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care by operating his or her vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner; 2) that the defendant failed to meet this standard of care; 3) that the defendant’s breach of the standard of care was the direct cause of the victim’s death; and 4) that as a result of the defendant’s breach the plaintiffs suffered damages (typically economic), such as the cost of medical care the victim received prior to death and lost wages that the plaintiffs would have continued to receive had the victim never died.Laurel Personal Injury Specialists
As seasoned personal injury attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, represent victims who have been injured in traffic collisions and workplace accidents, or by defective products or other cause resulting from another person’s negligent actions.
Persons who have been injured in an automobile or trucking-related collision in Laurel may end up filing a personal injury lawsuit in one of the district courts in Prince George's County. The closest courthouse is located about 25 minutes away at 4990 Rhode Island Ave. in Hyattsville, MD. Another courthouse, located about 40 minutes' drive from Laurel, can be found in Upper Marlboro at 14735 Main Street.
When determining financial liability following a traffic accident in the Laurel area, it should always be remembered that Maryland is an “at-fault” state. Because of this, the motorist who police determine caused the accident will generally be considered financially liable for the crash; in other words, he or she should be held responsible for the monetary damages pertaining to the victims’ injuries, as well as costs associated with any property damage.
Recovering damages following a severe Maryland traffic accident usually entails showing that the other motorist was at fault. At the same time, most any plaintiff must be prepared to prove that his or her actions did not contribute, in any way, to the accident. If the court determines that the victim was in some way responsible for the accident — for instance, being possibly distracted by a phone call or text message — the plaintiff could actually lose the case.
Since assigning blame for a car, truck or motorcycle accident is critical in any Maryland personal injury case, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, often recommends that victims obtain the police accident report corresponding to the traffic collision in which they were injured. This information often turns out to be very important in proving who was responsible for a particular car accident.
Potentially large monetary damages may hang in the balance based on the information contained in such official documents, which is why it is important to obtain the responding police officer’s report as soon as possible for one’s auto injury claim.Obtaining a Laurel, MD, Police Traffic Accident Report
Securing a police accident report following an injury-related car crash or pedestrian accident in or around Laurel, Maryland, may not be as easy as some might imagine. The reason is that, while the City of Laurel is located in Prince George's County, a number of Laurel’s outlying residential communities are in one of two adjacent counties: Anne Arundel and Howard. For accidents that have taken place within Laurel city limits, the following information will assist those in need of a police accident report.
The Laurel Police Department maintains accident report data at the city’s Central Records Division, which is the custodian of all Laurel Police Department records. The staff members who work at the Central Records Division are responsible for accident data entry and logging other police-related reports that are shared with the State of Maryland and federal government.
If you or your insurance company needs to request a copy of a police report, the cost is $10, which can be paid by cash, money order, Visa or Mastercard. Insurance company and business checks are also accepted. In addition to the fee, accident report requests that are mailed in (see the address below) should include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Always remember to include the police report number and never send cash through the mail.
If you do not know the police accident report number, or have other questions about obtaining an accident report, contact the Central Records Division for assistance.
Laurel Police Department
811 5th Street
Laurel, Maryland 20707
Division hours are typically 8am to 5pm weekdays (Tuesdays ‘til 7pm); closed holidays.Non-Automotive Injury Cases
With nearly 60,000 people living in Laurel and surrounding communities, personal injury claims are almost certain to occur, covering a range of injury-related events resulting from the negligence or wrongful actions of another individual. While traffic-related injury cases are the most prevalent, occasionally personal injury lawsuits arise from the use of a faulty or dangerous product.
According to Maryland court records, an average of 350 products liability lawsuits are filed every year by injured parties across our state. Considering this, as well as the number of residents in Laurel and surrounding communities, one could expect two or three products liability cases each year to involve local residents.
Filing a products liability lawsuit often takes place when a family member is injured or killed due to a defective product. These civil suits can name one or more parties as a defendant, such as the manufacturer of a product, as well as the distributor, or the retailer who sold the product to the victim. The basis for the most common types of products liability claims include the following:
- Defective Product Design
- Manufacturing Defect
- Failure to Warn Users of a Known Danger
As evidenced by the relatively low number of products liability claims filed annually, these kinds of lawsuits can be complex and time-consuming from the standpoint of preparation by a personal injury law firm. Some of the most common products that become the focus of a products liability lawsuit include the following:
- Cars, Trucks and SUVs
- Medical Devices
- Household Appliances
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), injuries from defective products increased nearly seven percent in 2021, and were up nearly eight percent in 2022. This is in contrast to an 18 percent overall decrease in reported injuries during 2020 when compared with the preceding year (however, much of that decrease could be attributable to COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions and general fear of infection at local emergency rooms during the early months of the pandemic).
While most ER visits arise from injuries received while using an everyday product assumed to be safe, many victims are from more vulnerable segments of the population, namely the elderly and young children. Common products such as TVs, household cleaning agents, and even home furnishings have been found to pose some risk to various family members and age groups. According to Lex Machina (LexisNexis), products liability claims have generally been increasing over recent years. One of the most recent reports covers a five-year period (2018-2022), analyzing data from product liability claims in U.S. federal and appellate courts. For example, 5,826 products liability cases were heard in federal district courts during all of 2022.
Over the five year period ending in 2022, the chemical company Syngenta AG was the most frequent defendant in general products liability cases (excluding multi-district litigation cases), while pharma giant Johnson & Johnson was the most frequent defendant in cases related to medical/pharmaceutical products liability cases; Ford Motor Company was the most active defendant in vehicle cases. During this same period, there were $214 million in approved class action settlement damages and $201 million in total punitive damage awards.
If you are considering filing a products liability lawsuit in Laurel, Maryland, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options, and they can guide you through the legal process.Personal Injury Attorneys Ready to Protect Your Rights
Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is prepared to represent victims of personal injury accidents, including serious traffic accidents and product liability cases. We are ready and willing to fight for your legal rights provided for under Maryland state law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent motorist, we urge you to consider the advantages of retaining a skilled Laurel automobile accident lawyer.
It is important to choose a seasoned law firm staffed by professionals who fully understand Maryland’s legal statutes and how to use them to protect your rights. We welcome anyone who is interested in a free initial consultation to call us at (800) 654-1949 and schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss their legal options.