Any car accident is risky. We have seen death cases at very low speeds with small amounts of property damage. But freeway accidents that occur on interstates and highways are a far greater concern. Motorists traveling at a high rate of speed, as most of us do on highways, create immense impact when they collide. If you or someone you love has been in a collision while on the freeway, you know first-hand how scary an experience like this may be.
This article addresses:
- The Danger of Freeway Driving Accident Cases [jump to]
- What Sort of Highway Driving Accidents Lead to Big Settlements and Verdicts [jump to]
- Who Pays When Freeway Accident Cases Are Resolved? [jump to]
- Sample Settlement and Jury Outcomes in Highway Crash Cases [jump to]
Freeway accidents are an especially deadly type of car accident. As motorists accelerate around bends and maintain a high level of speed to stay with the flow of traffic, the danger of fatal crashes becomes extremely high.
One turn that is too wide or one moment of inattention can have devastating consequences. These accidents often mushroom into multi-car pileups because of the traffic congestion typically found on highway roads. When freeway accidents occur, every motorist on the highway is at risk of a high speed, high impact collision that may be fatal.
Maryland alone has 16 interstate highways. And of the 461 fatal crashes occurring a few years back, an amazing 383 occurred on an urban interstate.). That is a staggering statistic which indicates that motorists are at the highest risk of death when traveling at high speeds on major highways and freeways.When Are Freeway Accidents The Most Deadly?
The following are examples of extremely serious freeway accidents:
- A freeway motorist attempts to change lanes at high speed and fails to look into her blind spot, colliding with a car in an adjacent lane.
- A freeway motorist nearly misses her exit and attempts to make a last minute cut across numerous lanes, colliding with other vehicles in adjacent lanes.
- A freeway motorist who is speeding too fast to react in time to the braking motorists ahead, slams into the rear of the vehicle in front of her and causes a multi-car pile up.
Mary is heading up I-95 to go home to New Jersey after a week in Florida with her 4 friends. She just bought a new mini-van and is excited to travel up to New Jersey with a few friends who can take advantage of the spacious vehicle. Even though the vehicle is larger than average and contains her 4 girlfriends, Mary does not think that should stop her from having some fun behind the wheel. And by fun, Mary means going fast.
Mary has been driving on interstates for years now and thinks that she has the rules of the road down pat. According to Mary, even though the speed limit says 65 MPH, she doesn’t think anyone would pull her over for going, say, 80 MPH. With that in mind, she leaves sunny Miami and heads for I-95 North. After making great time for the majority of the trip, Mary hears a loud clap of thunder and driving rain begins to dump down onto the windshield as she passes Baltimore on I-95. As Mary’s windshield wipers wipe away the rain, she sees a 65 MPH speed limit sign. Mary, according to her understanding of the rules of the highway, translates that to mean that the speed limit is really 80 MPH. So, Mary thinks, why not go 85 MPH? (Do you think this actually happens? Spend about 3 minutes on 95. You will have your answer.)
As Mary steps on the accelerator and flies down the left lane of traffic, she sees what looks like a million lights in the distance, but it is tough to tell with the rain coming down. Not thinking it is worth slowing down for, she continues her high rate of speed down the wet interstate. As those red lights become closer and closer, Mary realizes what kind of lights they are: brake lights. She is now fast approaching those lights and is forced to try to stop at the last minute to avoid hitting the vehicle stopped in front of her.
She swerves without looking into the middle lane of traffic in an attempt to avoid rear ending the vehicle. As she switches lanes, she collides with another vehicle, causing both to spin across 3 lanes of traffic. Mary leaves the accident unscathed, but the vehicle she hit was sent head on into a concrete wall. Both occupants suffer severe neck injuries and facial lacerations. Since Mary was speeding and failed to keep a proper lookout, the injured occupants are going to be entitled to compensation.What Kinds of Freeway Crashes Lead to Large Settlements?
The first thing any victim of a serious accident wants to know is: Can I be compensated and if so, for how much? These are the right questions to be asking. The civil justice system can only do one thing for you: provide monetary compensation. Our job, quite bluntly, is to get you as much money as you can for the suffering you have endured.
In answering the first question, a victim of an accident can normally only be compensated if the other driver was somehow at fault, whether negligent or reckless, in his operation of his vehicle. If the victim was also negligent or reckless, the doctrine of contributory negligence in Maryland prevents any recovery.
In answering the second question, if the victim of the accident is not the one at fault, the degree of compensation awarded almost always depends on the severity of the injuries and insurance policies involved. More serious injuries require more expensive medical care, more time off from work, and cause more conscious pain and suffering. Those injuries that are less severe receive less compensation.
If the defendant is a trucking company, the concern about the insurance policies generally disappears. But if the at-fault driver is a individual with little - or even no - insurance, these claims require us to peel and peel the onion to find insurance.Sample Verdicts and Settlements in Freeway Accident Cases
Here are some examples of jury awards for victims of high speed freeway collisions:
- Maryland $390,000 Settlement. Our client was riding down Route 795. While exiting to get on the Beltway, a construction truck decides to use the emergency cut through and pulled into our client's lane. Plaintiff fractures his hip and his elbow gets the awful road rash you would expect falling off a bike at a high rate of speed. The defendant argued just that: he was speeding. But the case settled in mediation with of a retired Maryland Court of Appeals judge for $390,000.
- Maryland: $417,604 Verdict. The plaintiff was operating her vehicle west on Interstate 70 with 3 passengers. The defendant driver entered the westbound lane from the eastbound lane, taking away the right-of-way from another motorist and causing a multi-vehicle collision. The plaintiff struck a guardrail after swerving to avoid the collision and suffered severe personal injuries. (Hawkins v. Sharps, Baltimore County)
- Maryland: $90,000 Verdict. The plaintiff was driving on I-495 near Baltimore when he was rear ended by a truck driver who was speeding and not paying close attention. The plaintiff incurred serious injuries to his back with severe inflammation and a pinched nerve requiring long term medical care. (Morgan v. McKinnon, Prince Georges County)
- Maryland: $85,100 Verdict. The plaintiff was driving on Interstate 270 when the defendant driver failed to maintain a safe distance between the two vehicles and collided into the rear of the plaintiff’s truck as the plaintiff stopped for traffic in the right-hand lane. The impact of the accident pushed the rear of the plaintiff’s truck into the air and when it came down, the plaintiff suffered several injuries to his back as well as a permanent partial lumbar and thoracic injury. (Dunckel v. Li)
- Is your own speeding contributory negligence? Short answer: Usually not. We break down here how Maryland law works when the at-fault driver tries to claim the at-fault driver should not recover damages because he was speeding.
- Aggressive driving on freeways is a huge problem that creates a ridiculous level of danger.
- What is my claim worth? Get information to help you put the puzzle pieces together.
- information about how Maryland car crash cases and what you can expect (and, yes, some bragging about our verdicts and settlements).
Being the victim of an auto accident is traumatic. We can only help you in one way: fighting to get you the compensation you deserve for your economic losses and, more importantly, you pain and suffering. You need an advocate to fight for you if you injuries are significant. Call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free case evaluation online.