The Consequences of Drunk Driving In Maryland’s Civil Justice System
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Aug 28, 2009 in Car Accidents
There was a terrible accident yesterday in Elkridge Maryland. Mr. Aaron Jacob Lorsong of the 13000 block of Rover Mill Road in West Friendship, is said to have been intoxicated when he struck a teenage on a bicycle on Route 108 near Lark Brown Road, and apparently was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Mr. Lorsong was driving a Nissan.
Mr. Lorsong will surely face criminal charges as a result of this incident including driving while intoxicated.
Anyone with information about this crash should call the Police Department at 410-313-3700. While the criminal laws regarding drunk driving in Maryland are quite strict, the civil consequences of drunk driving are often incredibly sparse.
The first problem is that in many cases, the intoxicated driver will have minimal limits of insurance (the minimum in Maryland is $20,000.00). Therefore, if the medical bills are substantial, the injured victim gets nothing or next to nothing. Maryland should increase the minimum limits of insurance to at least $50,000.00 per person.
Second, Maryland law is one of only 3 or 4 states in the entire USA that does not allow for dram shop actions. A dram shop action is a lawsuit against the bar where the driver became intoxicated. The bar or tavern would typically have a much larger insurance policy, and if the bar was negligent in serving someone alcohol, then it should be held accountable for the resulting injuries.
The third problem is that Maryland law does not allow for a person injured by a drunk driver to claim punitive damages. This is a result of the Zenobia case in which our appellate court essentially held that punitive damages are not available to those injured by others unless there is actual intent to injure.
This is ridiculous, and the Maryland Legislature should step in and change the law. Drunk drivers should be held accountable in our civil justice system for the injuries that they cause. Maryland claims to be tough on drunk drivers by having strict criminal laws against intoxicated drivers, but then does not back up that policy with civil laws that would hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions.
Our auto accident lawyers located in Silver Spring are extremely experienced at finding theories of liability and insurance coverage so that victims of drunk driving are fully compensated for their injuries.
For more information about your rights if you are injured by a drunk driver call the Maryland Attorneys, Goldberg Finnegan, at (888) 213-8140.