Earlier this month in Hagerstown, Maryland, local businessman Leonard B. Robinson died in a fatal car accident. According to a local news report, Robinson was known to many as the “Route 29 Batman” because he drove a tricked-out Lamborghini that was made to look like the Batmobile. Prior to passing, he would dress up as the Dark Knight and visit sick children in area hospitals. He would bring them toys and books, and encourage them to be strong in the face of their illnesses.

batman-close-up-1-1486843Evidently, Robinson was on his way home from a car show when his vehicle broke down on Interstate 70, near Hagerstown, and he was forced to pull off the road. However, according to witness accounts, it seems as though the Lamborghini was not completely off the road, and it may have been partially in the eastbound passing lane. As fate would have it, a passing Toyota Corolla collided with the Batmobile, sending it into Robinson, who was standing a few feet in front of his vehicle. Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by emergency responders. Police are still in the middle of an investigation.

Robinson became well known after a police dash-cam video of him getting pulled over in the Batmobile surfaced a few years back. The exchange between the Dark Knight and the police was a unique one, with the officers clearly intrigued and confused by the man whom they pulled over for having an invalid license plate. Apparently, the plate on the Lamborghini only had a bat symbol on it.

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Earlier this month, a former football player for the University of California, Berkeley, has filed suit against the regents of the University, as well as several others, seeking damages for the long-term injuries he sustained as a result of his participation in the school’s football program. According to a local California news report, Bernard Hicks played in the position of safety for the Golden Bears for a period of about four years between 2004 and 2008. In all, Hicks played 32 games with the team.

good-game-1540547Evidently, during his tenure with the team, Hicks suffered numerous concussions during both games and practices. After leaving the team in 2008, Hicks alleges that he suffered from permanent and debilitating injuries, including depression, suicidal thoughts, memory loss, and problems with his vision.

The lawsuit, which also names the school’s head coach and athletic trainer, claims that the school should have been more proactive in educating the players regarding the long-term risks of neurological damage associated with participating in a high-impact sport such as football. Hicks claims that, had he been properly educated about the risks involved, he would have not participated or at least taken off more time in between games to allow himself to heal.

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Last year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in an accident when a Wal-Mart truck rear-ended the limo Morgan and friends were riding in, seriously injuring Morgan and fatally wounding one of his friends, fellow comedian James McNair. According to one news source covering the issue, the National Transportation Safety Bureau will meet next week in Washington D.C. to conduct a hearing investigating the cause of the fatal accident.

truck-on-hwy-1615510Allegations of Drowsy Driving

While the NTSB is still conducting its investigation into what occurred in the moments leading up to the fatal accident, a preliminary report issued just weeks after the accident showed that the driver was traveling 65 miles per hour in an area with a designated speed limit of 45 or 55 miles per hour due to ongoing construction. Additionally, there have been claims that the driver was awake and on the road for almost all of the preceding 24 hours, which is in violation of state and federal laws. In New Jersey, where the accident occurred, causing an accident after having not slept for 24 hours can result in an “assault by auto” charge.

Morgan was seriously injured with a broken leg, serious head trauma, and several broken ribs. James McNair was pronounced dead shortly after emergency responders arrived on the scene. Several others in the limo at the time of the accident also suffered varying injuries.

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Earlier last month, the Court of Appeals of Maryland decided a case that may have lasting effects on the landscape of personal injury cases brought against government officials. In the case of Cooper v. Rodriguez, the court determined that the normal official immunity that all government employees enjoy was waived because the employee was acting in a grossly negligent manner at the time of the accident.

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According to court documents, the plaintiffs in the case were the parents of an inmate who was brutally murdered while on a prison bus. The murder occurred in front of several correctional officers, who allegedly failed to stop the acts of violence. Evidence presented at trial suggested that there were several violations of Department of Corrections policy on the day in question, including too few correctional officers on the bus at the time of the murder and improper use of the three-point harness to secure the inmate who allegedly killed the other inmate. Despite the murder occurring less than eight feet from the correctional officer, he claimed to have failed to have seen anything.

The Case Against the Correctional Officers

The deceased inmate’s family filed suit against a number of parties. Most relevant to this case was the lawsuit against one of the correctional officers, Cooper, who was in charge of the inmate who allegedly murdered the plaintiffs’ son.

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Earlier this month in Washington D.C., an Arlington man was killed when his vehicle was struck by another car that had lost control. According to one local Washington D.C. news source, the accident occurred on 16th Street NW near the intersection with Madison Street, not far from Rock Creek Park.

speed-limit-1444776Evidently, the accident occurred on a Sunday morning, around three o’clock. The accident victim was driving southbound on 16th Street NW in his Volvo when another motorist in an Acura heading northbound on the same road lost control. As the driver of the Acura lost control of his vehicle, it crossed the center median and struck the Volvo. Both drivers were taken to the hospital.

Sadly, the driver of the Volvo passed away from the injuries he sustained in the accident two days later. The driver of the Acura sustained non-life threatening injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.

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Back in May of this year, eight passengers were killed and dozens others seriously injured when an Amtrak train originating in Washington D.C. crashed just outside Philadelphia. According to one local news source, Amtrak recently indicated in court filings that it was not going to contest the issue of liability for compensatory damages by those passengers injured or killed in the fatal accident.

amtrak-1481742This means that the company will likely be held responsible for the medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering of those injured passengers who survived the accident. For the families of those who died in the accident, Amtrak will be responsible for their wrongful deaths. It remains to be seen if Amtrak will also be responsible for punitive damages.

In order for a judge to issue punitive damages to the accident victims and their families, the judge would have to determine whether Amtrak acted with “conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others.” The company has not conceded that punitive damages are appropriate in this case.

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For several years now, Google has been developing self-driving cars that do not require the attention of a human driver to get to the final destination. According to one news source, these vehicles have recently undergone some safety testing, and the results may be surprising. The self-driving cars are involved in fewer accidents than those operated by people.

that-hurt-1450455According to the news source, Google recently released a comprehensive report indicating all the accidents that the self-driving cars have been involved in. The report indicates that the robotic cars have driven about 1.8 million miles in total and that they have been involved in 12 accidents, none of which were the fault of the robot that was “behind the wheel.”

Most of the accidents, the report claims, were caused by another driver rear-ending the self-driving car. Evidently, another accident was caused when a human-driven car veered out of its lane on the highway and drifted into the self-driven vehicle. Yet another accident occurred when a driver rolled through a stop sign and plowed into the side of the robotic car. The one accident that was determined to be the robotic car’s fault was not when the robot was in control, but when a Google employee took the car to run an errand and rear-ended the vehicle while he was in control.

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It is common knowledge these days that drunk driving is a dangerous and irresponsible habit that can all too easily claim innocent lives. However, for a number of seemingly irrational reasons, drivers continue to engage in drunk driving despite the physical dangers to others as well as the potential criminal consequences they may face if convicted of a drunk-driving offense. According to one news report looking at a recent nationwide study, however, Washington D.C. ranks as the most lenient jurisdiction in the country for drunk drivers.

the-last-drop-1083566-mEvidently, the study was conducted by wallethub.com and took into account factors such as minimum jail time for first and second offenses, when a DUI becomes an automatic felony, the length of a license suspension following a DUI conviction, when an ignition interlock device is required, whether the jurisdiction uses sobriety checkpoints, and how much the fines and costs are relating to a conviction.

The researchers conducting the study assigned a numerical value to each factor, ultimately coming up with a final “score.” The higher the number, the stricter the jurisdiction is on drunk drivers. Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. ranked as follows:

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Earlier this month in northwest Washington, D.C., a 79-year-old woman was killed while she was struck by a delivery truck. According to one local news source, the accident occurred at the intersection of 37th Street NW and Calvert Street NW.

truck-delivery-1042539-mEvidently, the grocery delivery truck was at the intersection facing southbound on 37th Street, waiting to make a right turn. As the truck made its turn, it struck the woman as she was crossing Calvert Street. The driver of the truck remained on the scene until police arrived. Sadly, the elderly woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by emergency workers.

Peapod, the company that owned the grocery delivery truck, released the following statement:  “On behalf of all of us at Peapod, we offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the person involved in the tragic accident in Glover Park this evening. We will cooperate with the investigation into this matter.”

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California heard a premises liability case involving an injury that occurred in a gym. In the case, Jimenez v. 24 Hour Fitness USA, the plaintiff was injured while running on a treadmill in one of the defendant’s gym locations.

elliptical-trainers-489121-mEvidently, the plaintiff fell backwards off the treadmill, and as she fell she hit her head on an exposed steel foot of another exercise machine that was placed less than four feet away from the rear of the treadmill. She ended up fracturing the right occipital and right temporal bones in her skull.

At trial, the plaintiff’s theory was that the gym was negligent for placing other machinery so close to the rear of the treadmill. To support her claim, she submitted the user’s manual of the treadmill into evidence, since it recommended that an area of six feet be left behind the treadmill for user safety.

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