Category Archives: Firm News

Car Accident Attorney: How to Prove Personal Injury Cases

87827653The Towson personal injury attorneys at McMullen & Drury explain what evidence is needed in order to prove personal injuries in car accidents.

There are many variables in car accidents: the weather, the driver’s state, the car’s condition, and the type of collision, just to name a few. Even two seemingly similar accidents can vary greatly in both their cause and effect.

Because of all the variables in car accidents, the evidence needed to prove negligence in personal injury cases depends on the details of the case. Evidence could include expert testimony, eye witnesses, or physical evidence at the scene of the car accident.

However, personal injury cases are more straightforward than they seem. They all rely on the same legal canons of tort law.

In order to prove a personal injury claim valid, the evidence must satisfy the following four conditions:

  1. The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff: All drivers have a responsibility to be safe while driving and to keep other drivers safe. Legally, this is referred to as a “reasonable duty”. Traffic laws are designed to reflect that reasonable duty, but sometimes safety is just common sense.
  2. That duty was breached: When a driver breaks the law or is being unsafe, then they are breaching a duty owed to other drivers. For example, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or driving recklessly are two common ways a driver can breach their duty to be safe and follow the law.
  3. Damage resulted: There are many ways damage can result from a breach of duty. In cases involving road safety and traffic laws, damages usually come in the form of car accidents. Many car accidents result in damage to the vehicles or other private properties, and personal injuries to the passengers.
  4. That damage is compensable: Car accident damages usually come with a steep price tag. When a car accident causes substantial and compensable damage, the at-fault driver could be held liable. It is important to note that not all damages can be compensated. Sometimes, personal injuries are so severe that the victim doesn’t survive. In these cases, victims or their families may be compensated for their mental pain and suffering.

Tort law is pretty logical; if you make a claim, you are responsible for proving it. Consequently, victims are responsible for substantiating their personal injury claim with evidence. This is called the “burden of proof”.

Many victims find that it is helpful to have an experienced personal injury attorney to help them gather evidence and use as many legal tools as possible to prove personal injury claim while they focus their energy on healing.

For more information regarding personal injury claims in Maryland, please contact the Towson personal injury attorneys at McMullen & Drury.

Car Fatalities and Serious Legalities

Drunk Driving Car WreckThe criminal defense attorneys at McMullen & Drury explain Maryland vehicular manslaughter charges and penalties.

Vehicular manslaughter is a serious crime with life altering consequences.

Vehicular manslaughter is when someone unintentionally but unlawfully kills another person while driving a motor vehicle. It is considered a negligent homicide but can be tried for murder if the driver intended the car to be used as a murder weapon.

In Maryland, there are two different types of negligence and corresponding charges in vehicular manslaughter cases.  These depend largely on the extent of the driver’s recklessness.

Depending on the facts of the case, a prosecuting attorney will charge the offender with either criminal negligence or gross negligence.

Criminal negligence is defined in section § 2-210 of the Maryland Criminal Law Statutes.  Generally, it means that the driver should have been aware, but failed to realize, that their actions created a risk for a fatal accident.  Criminal negligence in a vehicular manslaughter case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor.  The driver could face up to 3 years imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000, or both if found guilty.

Gross negligence is outlined in § 2-209 of the Maryland Criminal Law Statutes.   It is a more serious charge that is prosecuted as a felony.  The offender must have shown a reckless disregard for human life. This includes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, evading police in a car chase, committing a hit and run, or excessively speeding.   A person found guilty of a vehicular manslaughter felony could spend up to 10 years in prison or pay a fine not exceeding $ 5,000, or both.

In addition, vehicular manslaughter offenders can expect to face an additional three to five years in prison if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred.

A vehicular manslaughter conviction can be devastating.  The time spent in prison, costly fines, and the loss of a driver’s license can negatively influence the ability to find work, earn a living, and maintain a family.

For more information about vehicular manslaughter in Maryland, please contact the criminal defense attorneys at McMullen & Drury.

11 Steps to Follow after a Car Accident

Car AccidentAfter a car accident or fender bender occurs, it can be hard to think straight and stay calm.  Pain is usually masked by adrenaline, and the body enters a fight or flight mode.  These natural responses are the body’s attempt to protect and defend against threats.  However, many people forget to protect their legal rights or defend against the threat of liability.

The following steps help document a car accident with as much evidence as possible and may serve as a strong legal tool for holding negligent parities liable.

1. Stop the Car: Drivers are legally required to stop their vehicles, even if the car accident was a minor fender bender. Failure to do so can result in serious criminal consequences such as a hit and run charge.  Attempt to stop the vehicle as close to the scene of the car accident as possible without unnecessarily blocking traffic.

2. Always Check for Injuries: Check to see if anyone is injured.  If so, call an ambulance, a doctor, or both.  The 911 operator can help walk the caller through administering first aid after the ambulance has been dispatched. Keep in mind that not all injuries are apparent, and moving an injured person can worsen their injury.

3. Warn Other Drivers of the Car Accident: Use reflective triangles, flares, or flashing hazard lights on vehicles to warn approaching cars.  These emergency kits are widely available and can be easily stored in the trunk of a car.

4. Call the Police: Typically a police car on patrol will stop just to make sure everyone is okay.  Nonetheless, it is a good idea to keep a list of contact numbers for police and law enforcement agencies. Police officers are trained to investigate car accidents.  They can measure skid marks and take distance measurements, all of which may help in determining how the car accident occurred.

5. Write All Information: Do not trust memory during a stressful time.   Carry a notepad and a pen in the glove compartment.  Write down everything, especially the names, addresses, license plate numbers, insurance information, and drivers’ license numbers of all drivers and witnesses involved.

6. Carry a Camera: It is often very helpful to store a camera in the glove compartment.  Keep smartphones and camera phones well charged before driving somewhere. Having pictures that document the accident is very valuable.  Pictures can prove damages and road conditions if a liability dispute arises.

7. Don’t Admit Guilt or Place Blame: Do not admit guilt or place blame after a car accident. Only discuss the car accident with the investigating officer, a personal injury attorney, and the insurance company.

8. See a Doctor: Whiplash and other muscular injuries often do not present themselves until a few days following a car accident.  Other serious injuries can occur without showing symptoms, immediate pain, or bleeding.  Insurance companies capitalize on these facts by taking statements shortly after an accident.  Personal injury compensation may cover the cost of medicine, physical therapy, or hospitalization, but only if the victim sees their doctor.

9. File an Accident Report: As a requirement of most car insurance policies, drivers typically must file an accident report with their insurance company.  Failure to do so can void the policy and leave the driver without coverage for the damages resulting from the car accident.

10. Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer: Accepting the first settlement offer can be a tempting, yet costly mistake.  There are many other costs surrounding a car accident other than medical bills and property damages; there is the time missed from work, or the cost of new forms of transportation if the vehicle is totaled. These costs are often not factored into the insurance companies settlement offer.

11. Contact a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer: A personal injury lawyer can advise car accident victims and protect their rights.  They can obtain statements from the witnesses while their memories of the car accident are fresh.  Personal injury lawyers are experienced in negotiating with both the insurance company and the claim adjusters.

For more information, please contact the Maryland personal injury attorneys at McMullen & Drury.

Medical Records the Smoking Gun in Malpractice Suits

Medical MalpracticeMany people think of medical records as something only a hospital or doctor’s office handles.  After all, most people rely on their doctors to interpret documents such as x-rays, mammograms, or blood tests.

However, the importance of keeping a complete record of personal health history is twofold.  Complete medical records can improve the quality of care a patient receives, and they may serve as a strong legal tool for justice in the event of medical malpractice.

(more…)

Teenage Drunk Driving: The Consequences of an Underage DUI

Recent statistics suggest that part of why underage drinking has become such a problem in America is because of how commonplace it has become. A significant majority of teenagers report regular recreational drinking. Minors have commonly reported experimenting with alcohol at as young as the age of 12.

This problem becomes even more serious for underage drinkers who get behind the wheel.

(more…)

“Service” Schedule for Estate Plans

Last will and testamentDrivers know that their cars require regular servicing in order to be reliable. Many vehicles come with a recommended maintenance schedule based on the car’s mileage. Some newer cars even have a dash light that flashes a reminder when it’s time to service the car.

Whether the driver relies on the odometer or the dash light, the service schedule outlines when to change the oil, rotate the tires, and replace the brake pads or other parts.

An estate plan is a lot like a vehicle maintenance schedule. Just like a car, an estate plan requires regular servicing to maintain its reliability. Over a lifetime, an estate plan needs some tune-ups too.

But life doesn’t follow mileage checkpoints like a car, making it hard to know when to service an estate plan. Here are some of the important “event checkpoints” that may signal an estate plan tune-up is in order.

  1. Estate tax law changes. Estate tax laws change often, for better or for worse. Under the current federal estate tax law, individuals can transfer up to $5.12 million tax-free during life or at death.
  2. Changes in the value of assets. Real estate purchases, new investments, or a change in business interests may trigger the need for an estate plan update. Just as estate plans may need to be updated to account for impending financial success, they also may need to be updated when there are financial setbacks.
  3. Change in committed relationships. Any time a person divorces, splits from a significant other, marries or remarries, an update in the estate plan may be necessary. Important life events such as these may require an individual to name a new beneficiary, executor, or fiduciary on documents such as a trust, will or power of attorney.
  4. Birth or Adoption. A new family member is often the first motivation for creating an estate plan. Parents may want to name a guardian for their children while grandparents may want to add grandchildren to the will, or create a trust. After the excitement of a child or grandchild subsides, updating the estate plan may be a good idea.
  5. A minor becomes an adult. When a minor beneficiary turns 18, they may no longer need a guardian, but they may need a trustee to manage their inheritance.
  6. Losing a spouse. This life-altering event can leave the widow or widower feeling emotionally adrift for a very long time. After grieving, it may be necessary to update an estate plan.
  7. Bad health. The diagnosis of a degenerative disease or terminal illness often upsets the entire family. During this time, some people find solace in getting their estate plans in order. One way to shield assets from estate taxes is through a gift tax strategy.

These are just a few of the circumstances when updates to an estate plan may be necessary. If you have any questions about creating or updating an estate plan, please contact the Towson, Maryland attorneys at McMullen & Drury, LLC.

How DUI Treatment Can Help Your Case

DUI and Criminal LawMany clients facing DUI or DWI charges are concerned that attending a DUI treatment program is like admitting guilt. After all, they are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

However, submitting to a DUI evaluation or taking a treatment class may actually help people who are facing a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge.

Many Maryland judges view attendance to a DUI treatment or education programs as taking responsibility of a potential problem, regardless of whether the defendant is innocent of the charges. Education and treatment for a DUI charge may help reduce the severity of the sentence both in court and at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

From a legal standpoint, attending DUI or DWI education may aids in a lawyer’s preparation of a good defense for their client.   Maryland DUI lawyers prepare for trial and sentencing by collecting evidence, facts, and by presenting their client in the best light.  DUI treatment programs may help show that the defendant is truly remorseful.

When a judge is not limited by a mandatory minimum sentence, they can consider several mitigating and aggravating factors.  Effective DUI treatment is a mitigating factor that may help persuade prosecutors to lessen the charges and the judge to reduce the punishment. Conversely, a judge may consider it an aggravating factor if the DUI defendant does not seek DUI education or treatment before their hearing.  As a result, the judge may issue a more severe sentence if the defendant is found guilty.  The defendant is at risk of going to jail, going to jail for a longer period of time, and may face longer probation.

For the same reasons listed above, administrative law judges at the MVA may go easier or lessen punishment on drivers who have been through DUI treatment.

From a personal standpoint, attending DUI treatment and education can be helpful if there is underlying drug or alcohol abuse.  An underlying drug or alcohol problem can cause more than just legal problems, but also health and family problems. If that is the case, then DUI education or treatment can minimize the chance that the person will get in future trouble, as well as help them to cope with what could be a very challenging problem.

For more information about Maryland DUI and DWI charges, please contact the defense attorneys at McMullen & Drury, LLC.

McMullen & Drury, P.A. Launches New Site

McMullen & Drury, P.A. is happy to announce the launch of our new website. Please contact the firm for more information about anything you see on the site.

Recent News

| In order for you and your family to have peace of mind, and be confident in the instance of a Read More >>

Firm News
  • Car Accident Attorney: How to Prove Personal Injury Cases Read more >>

  • Car Fatalities and Serious Legalities Read more >>

See All Posts
Recognitions

recog-2 recog-3

Quick Contact