Motorcycle accidents can happen anywhere. However, almost half of all serious motorcycle accidents occur at intersections, both rural and urban. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about three motorcyclists die each day in multi-vehicle accidents occurring at intersections.

Traffic LightThe causes of motorcycle accidents vary, but they often include distracted driving, aggressive driving, or a motorist’s inability to see the motorcyclist. While news outlets often report motorcycle accidents in terms of how the motorcyclist is at fault, this is often inaccurate. In fact, the motorcyclist is deemed to be at fault in only about one-third of the total number of accidents. However, since most people have experience driving a car but cannot relate to riding a motorcycle, accidents are often framed in terms of “what the motorcyclist could have done differently,” even when the motorcyclist was the innocent victim of another driver’s negligence.

There are also some situations in which both parties are at fault. For example, if a motorcyclist is speeding through an intersection, but another driver runs a red light, a collision may result. In these cases, both drivers may be at fault. It is important for motorcyclists to understand that in Maryland and Washington, D.C., any accident with shared fault will prevent either party from recovering compensation for their injuries.

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Being involved in a serious motorcycle accident can take its toll on the body and mind. First is the physical recovery, often involving months of therapy. After the body has mended itself, it often takes time for the mind to heal, since being involved in a motorcycle accident is a traumatic experience that is not easily forgotten or overcome. However, once a motorcycle accident victim does heal both body and mind, there is often the issue of how they are going to pay for the medical expenses and make up for the time away from work.

Motorcycle EngineInsurance companies should be the solution. Since all drivers are required by law to maintain a base limit of coverage, an insurance company should be there to help the accident victim recover, providing monetary compensation to help the injured party overcome the financial hurdles that come along with being involved in a serious accident. However, insurance companies are motivated by their own bottom lines, and all too often they try to avoid paying out on even the most worthy claims. A recent case in front of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates the difficulties that an accident victim may face when dealing with an insurance company.

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A bicyclist who was injured in an October 2014 crash with a sport utility vehicle has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the SUV and may receive a damages award or settlement from the case, despite the fact that law enforcement officers declined to issue a citation after the crash or find that the driver of the SUV was at fault for the collision. Although bicycle and motorcycle accident victims can more easily prove their case when the other driver is cited after a crash, a law enforcement officer’s determination of fault is not absolute to the question of the other driver’s negligence.

BicyclistThe Bicyclist Crashes into an SUV that Turned into Its Path

According to a local news article discussing the recently filed lawsuit, the accident occurred when a bicyclist, who was traveling in a bike lane adjacent to the right shoulder of a city street, crashed into a sport utility vehicle that was making a right-hand turn into the bicycle’s path. The article notes that after the crash, the law enforcement officers who responded decided not to issue a citation to the driver of the SUV. The article suggests this decision was based on the statements given by witnesses that the bicyclist was traveling excessively fast in the bike lane, and the driver of the SUV could not have known that the fast-moving bicycle would crash into him, based on those facts. The article also notes that the SUV driver admitted to noticing the cyclist as he passed by him earlier, but no citation was issued.

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A recently published news report discusses the tragic death of an Illinois man after a tow truck allegedly swerved into his lane of travel head-on, forcing the motorcyclist to lay down his bike to avoid a collision with the truck. Although the man operating the motorcycle was tragically killed in the incident, a passenger who was on the back of his bike survived the crash, likely as a result of the motorcyclist’s quick decision to avoid a high-speed, head-on collision with the truck. According to the article, another motorcyclist who was accompanying the deceased man on the ride also was forced to lay his bike down to avoid colliding with the truck, although this second biker survived the incident with mild injuries.

Tow TruckThe Tow Truck Driver Failed to Stop After the Fatal Crash

According to the friends with the deceased man at the time of the accident, the two motorcycles were traveling side by side on a two-lane undivided highway in Montgomery County, Illinois, when a tow truck and a vehicle it was towing approached the group in the opposite lane of travel and crossed over the center line into their direct path. The bikers were then forced to intentionally crash and dismount from the motorcycles to avoid the near-certain death that would result from crashing head-on into such a large vehicle. According to the news report, the driver of the tow truck failed to stop after the fatal accident. Authorities continue to seek the driver of a black roll-back tow truck with orange and yellow lettering in connection with the crash.

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Auto accidents that involve automobiles and two-wheeled vehicles, whether bicycles, motorcycles, or motorized scooters, share common characteristics demonstrating the unique dangers that are faced by commuters using smaller vehicles on our nation’s roadways. Not only are the users of two-wheeled vehicles more likely to suffer an accident based on the negligence of another driver, but also they are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in an accident as a consequence of the difference in mass between the vehicles.

BicyclistOther Drivers Owe a Special Duty of Care to Motorcyclists and Bicyclists

There are several reasons why accidents between normal vehicles and smaller, two-wheeled vehicles are more common than between two normal vehicles alone. A primary cause of the increased accident risk is the fact that motorcycles and other small vehicles can be more difficult for another motorist to see, resulting in an unintended collision. Although bicycle and motorcycle operators should use additional caution when commuting around larger vehicles, the drivers of the larger vehicles have a legal duty to exercise due care while on public roadways, and this duty includes paying attention to the road and keeping an eye out for smaller vehicles. If the driver of a larger vehicle fails to see a smaller vehicle and causes an accident, the driver of the larger vehicle may be accountable for damages to the motorcyclist even if the driver of the other vehicle never actually saw the smaller vehicle before the collision.

Motorcyclists and Bicyclists Should Use Approved Safety Equipment to Ensure Their Safety

Motorcyclists should always employ fully functional safety equipment to protect themselves while on the road. This includes lights, reflectors, proper signaling equipment, protective clothing, and a helmet. Using approved safety equipment while on the road can help save a motorcyclist’s life in the event of an accident and additionally support their case for compensation from a negligent driver who may have caused the crash. A motorcyclist or bicyclist involved in an accident who failed to use safety equipment or follow traffic laws before an accident may lose their right to collect the full amount of damages from a negligent driver who caused the accident.

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Serious and fatal motorcycle accidents have a number of potential causes. In some cases, it is the motorcyclist who is at fault for driving recklessly, or operating the bike without the proper level of experience. However, these accidents are far less common than most would believe from reading the news media, which seems to imply that most motorcycle accidents are the fault of the motorcyclist. However, that is simply not the case.

Motorcycle HeadlightCauses of Motorcycle Accidents

Single-vehicle motorcycle accidents account for just one-third of the total of all motorcycle accidents. Of these, it is true that operator error is listed as a potential cause about 65% of the time. However, the vast majority of motorcycle accidents involve at least one other vehicle. Of those accidents, just one-third involve motorcyclist error as a potential cause. In fact, the most common cause of all motorcycle accidents is the other driver’s failure to see the motorcycle. Of course, there can be many reasons for this, including that the other vehicle’s operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The determination of fault has nothing to do with the fact that a serious motorcycle accident can have irreversible effects on a family.

Motorcyclist Liability to Passengers

Even when it has been determined that a motorcyclist was in fact at fault in a motorcycle accident, the operator, as well as their passenger, may be able to recover for their injuries through the driver’s insurance coverage. In cases where a motorcyclist causes a serious accident that injures a passenger, the passenger may be entitled to monetary compensation through the driver’s insurance policy. Indeed, this is the very reason that insurance coverage is mandatory in Maryland.

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As the summer season rolls in, more and more people will hop on their bicycles, leaving the cars in the garage. Bicycling can be an affordable and environmentally friendly way to get where you need to go, but riding a bicycle presents additional dangers that commuters should be aware of and should take precautions against.

BicyclistPerhaps some of the biggest dangers to bicyclists are distracted drivers. Since in most cities bicycles are required to ride on the road with cars and trucks, a driver who is not paying as close attention as they should may inadvertently drift into a bike lane or fail to see a turning bicyclist. In cases in which another motorist causes a bicycle accident, that bicyclist may be entitled to recover compensation for any injuries they sustained. However, in Maryland, a very specific doctrine makes it difficult – if not impossible – for a bicyclist to recover for their injuries when the bicyclist shares fault with another party.

The Doctrine of Contributory Negligence

Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence when it comes to determining who is able to recover for their injuries after an accident. Indeed, contributory negligence is a very strict doctrine that prevents an injured accident victim from seeking compensation for their injuries if they are even the slightest bit at fault in causing the accident that resulted in their injuries. This means that it is incredibly important for anyone injured in a Maryland bicycle accident to seek out the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.

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Earlier this month, a Mississippi court issued an opinion in a motorcycle accident case brought by the estate of a man who died when he inadvertently entered a construction zone and crashed his motorcycle. In the case, Mississippi Transportation Commission v. Adams, the court made its ruling based on the governmental immunity that state, federal, and municipal governments enjoy when engaging in the discretionary functions of running a government. However, in this case, the court declined to extend the immunity to protect the government because the activity at issue — covering the white lines used to guide motorists — is “ministerial” in nature rather than “discretionary.”

Road Work SignThe Facts of the Case

Adams was riding his motorcycle on a Mississippi highway when he accidentally entered a construction zone. Once in the construction zone, Adams attempted to exit safely, but as he tried to do so, his motorcycle hit an uneven surface, and he lost control. He was ejected from his motorcycle and was then struck by two passing vehicles. He died as a result of his injuries.

His wife filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that the traffic control devices, including the white lines used to guide motorists on the highway, were not effective in preventing motorists from entering the dangerous construction zone.

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In most accidents, there are two sides to the story. Often, each party’s version of what happened is partly based on reality and partly based on their own biases. However, in some accidents, due to the nature of the injuries involved, there may only be one side to the story. That is often the case in motorcycle accidents in which the motorcyclist sustains a serious injury to his or her head.

Motorcycle on HighwayPolice are supposed to do more than ask each person involved their side of the story. Indeed, police and accident investigation teams should conduct a thorough investigation of the scene, plugging in what each party claims to have happened to determine which scenario is closest to the truth. In some cases, however, there is no reliable evidence on which the police can base their investigation, and an accident reconstruction team is called in to reconstruct the accident in hopes of determining how the accident was caused. This determination is important for police to determine if either of the drivers should be issued a citation, and it may also be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit in the future.

Reconstruction Team Deployed to Figure Out Recent Motorcycle Accident

Earlier this month, an accident involving a motorcycle and a pickup truck left one man in critical condition. According to a news report covering the incident, the collision took place during the morning commute in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Motorcycle accidents, like car accidents, have a number of causes. Most commonly, a motorcycle collision involves one driver not paying as close attention as they should to the road and failing to see the other party. Anyone who has spent much time on a motorcycle knows that one of the most dangerous moments for motorcyclists is when cars or trucks are making a left turn. This is when the car or truck is most likely to overlook the motorcyclist and cause a collision.

IntersectionDrivers of cars and trucks like to try and shift the blame for motorcycle accidents onto the motorcyclists themselves, claiming that motorcyclists “ask for it” by choosing to ride a motorcycle. However, that is not how the law sees it. Under Maryland law, motorists owe a duty of care to everyone with whom they share the road, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, and those riding motorized scooters.

When the driver of a car or truck fails to keep a proper lookout and strikes a motorcyclist, that driver may be held accountable for their actions through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. This includes situations in which the collision was an honest “accident,” since the fact that the driver didn’t mean to cause an collision doesn’t make the recovery process any easier for those who were injured as a result.

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