Earlier this month, WUSA9 reported that eleven motorists had sustained injuries in a car accident in Brandywine, Maryland, believed to have been caused by illegal street racing. According to the story, the crash occurred on October 6, at approximately 2:00 pm when a black Mercury Marauder speeding in the northbound lane of State Route 301 when it crossed the median and slammed into oncoming traffic, wrecking five other vehicles.
A total of eleven people were taken to area hospitals with varying degrees of injury. Some were airlifted while others were taken by ground. The cause of and circumstances surrounding the accident remain under investigation. Although Maryland State Police are still investigating the cause of the accident and still have yet to charge anyone, witnesses to the incident believe that drag racing may have been involved.
Street racing is not only illegal in Maryland; it also constitutes a special form of negligence referred to in legal terms as “per se” negligence. Generally, Maryland law requires that, in order to recover for an injury, the plaintiff must prove that the other party was negligent. A person is negligent when they fail to exercise “ordinary care” in their course of conduct. Proving negligence involves establishing the following elements:
• The defendant that caused the injury owed the plaintiff a “duty.”
• The defendant failed to satisfy or breached his/her duty to the plaintiff.
• The defendant’s breach of his/her duty caused some type of injury to the plaintiff.
Per se negligence is a legal doctrine wherein a person’s actions are considered negligent merely because they violated a statute. When a statute exists imposing a duty upon a defendant, to establish a claim of per se negligence, the plaintiff only has to demonstrate that:
• The defendant violated the statute.
• The defendant’s actions caused the kind of harm the statute was designed to prevent.
• The plaintiff was a member of class of individual’s the statute was designed to protect.
Under the Maryland Code, street racing is illegal and punishable as a misdemeanor carrying a fine of $500 and/or 60 days. Accordingly, an individual injured as a result of the negligent, and illegal, street racing of another may be able rely upon the per se negligence doctrine in seeking recovery.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that approximately 49 people are injured in street drag racing accidents for every 1,000 individuals that participate. In 2001, the NHTSA reported that police listed street racing as a factor in 135 fatal crashes, a significant increase from 72 street-racing-related fatalities reported in 2000.
By its very nature, street racing is inherently dangerous and poses an extreme risk of injury and death to both participants and other motorists. The qualified attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured by the negligent driving of another. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.