Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog

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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Earlier this month, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an opinion in favor of a motorcycle accident plaintiff who was injured when another driver struck him at what he claimed to be a known dangerous intersection. In the case, Turner v. Department of Transportation, the court allowed the plaintiff’s claims against the city and county governments, alleging that the entities were negligent in failing to remedy an intersection known to be dangerous.

Open RoadThe Facts of the Case

Back in 2008, one of the defendants was making a left turn from a street onto a larger highway when she struck the plaintiff, who was riding a motorcycle. The plaintiff had the right-of-way. The plaintiff suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the driver of the car that hit him as well as several government entities in charge of maintaining the road.

Relevant to this case, the plaintiff claimed that the government entities should have done something to fix what was known to be a dangerous intersection. Evidently, drivers making a left from the street onto the highway had a greatly reduced line of sight, and previous accidents had been caused in the same manner as the one in this case.

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While motorcyclists only account for a small number of the vehicles on the roads, the number of serious or fatal accidents involving motorcycles is fairly high. While some motorcycle accidents are caused by rider error, many of the fatal motorcycle accidents we see each year are caused by other motorists and their inexperience with sharing the road with motorcyclists. In fact, one of the major causes of serious and fatal motorcycle accidents is another motorist’s failure to see a motorcyclist.

Black MotorcycleWhether a motorist drives a car, truck, or motorcycle, they have a duty to those with whom they share the road. This duty requires that the motorist operate their vehicle in a manner that is safe and responsible. Of course, this also includes refraining from distracted or intoxicated driving. When a motorist violates this duty and creates a danger on the road, he or she can be held liable for the damages that result through a Maryland motorcycle accident lawsuit.

Injured motorcyclists should be prepared for a fight, however. Routinely, at-fault drivers and their insurance companies try and shift the blame onto the motorcyclist. For example, if a motorcyclist is injured while not wearing a helmet, an at-fault driver may attempt to use that fact against the motorcyclist. However, the fact remains that without the at-fault driver’s negligence, there would have been no accident in the first place.

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Motorcycle accidents are often misunderstood by many members of the general public, and this shouldn’t really come as a big surprise because most people don’t ride motorcycles as a primary means of transportation. However, it is more surprising – as well as more upsetting – when police subscribe to the same stereotypes that lead others to assume that any single-vehicle motorcycle accident was the rider’s fault.

Woman with MotorcycleWhile it is true that a large percentage of motorcycle accidents are caused by user error or aggressive driving, those are certainly not the only causes. In fact, other motorists failing to see or yield to a motorcyclist is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents. However, news reports routinely place the blame for motorcycle accidents on the rider, rather than consider alternate causes. In some cases, police will also take a “short cut” and, rather than conduct a thorough investigation into what really occurred, will claim that a motorcyclist “lost control” of the motorcycle, leading to the accident.

This can be devastating to the family of a deceased motorcyclist, not only because it leaves them without anyone to answer their questions about what happened, but also because it leaves them with little to no means of recourse.

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Motorcycle accidents are caused by a variety of poor driving habits, most commonly distracted or inattentive driving. Each year, about a quarter of all serious or fatal traffic accidents are caused by distracted driving. While society does not condemn distracting driving, as it does drunk driving, the reality is that the two are about equal in the number of deaths they cause.

Motorcycle on HighwayWhether an accident is caused by a distracted or drunk driver, or any other time a motorist is responsible for causing a serious or fatal motorcycle accident, the motorcyclist as well as his passenger may be entitled to monetary compensation based on the other driver’s negligence. To prove this kind of case in Maryland or Washington, D.C., an accident victim must be able to prove not just that the other motorist was at fault but also that the accident victim himself was not at all at fault in the accident. This is due to the doctrine of contributory negligence, which is in effect in both Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Man Killed in Florida Motorcycle Accident

Earlier this month, a state trooper in Tampa Bay, Florida was killed when the motorcycle he was operating was struck by an SUV. According to one news report, an SUV was stopped at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear. When the driver believed the intersection to be clear, she pulled out to cross the intersection. However, as she did so, she ended up striking the motorcycle, which was carrying an off-duty state trooper and his wife.

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Insurance companies are in the business of providing insurance, meaning that they are expected to turn a profit. As a result, insurance companies are constantly looking for ways to minimize the amount they must pay out regarding claims made against the people the company insures. In a recent case, an insurance company was successful in convincing a court that a chain-reaction accident was a single “accident” under the policy, and thus any recovery by the multiple plaintiffs involved was significantly limited.

car-991635_960_720Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association:  The Facts

Back in April 2011, three vehicles were involved in a serious chain-reaction car accident that claimed the life of one and injured several others. According to the court’s written opinion, the driver of an SUV was traveling the wrong way on the highway when he struck an oncoming semi-truck. The truck’s driver had attempted to avoid the collision, but he was unable to do so, and the SUV struck the rear driver’s side portion of the truck.

Moments later, a motorcyclist approached the scene of the accident. The motorcyclist saw the truck pulled off to the side of the road with its hazard lights on, but he was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV, which now lay sideways blocking several lanes of traffic. The motorcyclist collided with the SUV. As a result of his injuries, the motorcyclist had to have one of his legs amputated below the knee. The driver of the semi-truck also suffered lingering pain in his shoulder. Sadly, the driver of the SUV died in the accident.

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The phrase “intentional accident” does not make a lot of sense. Indeed, when most people think of an accident, they think of one party being negligent, such as by forgetting to stop at a stop sign, failing to see another oncoming motorist, or being ignorant of a traffic sign. However, some accidents are seemingly intentional in nature and require a second look.

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Road rage is an increasingly common phenomenon across the United States. Studies have hypothesized regarding the causes and reasons why road rage is seen more today than in the past, with most theories coming back to the fact that we live a fairly high-stress lifestyle as Americans and that there are so many motorists on the road today. However, there is never an excuse to intentionally cause an accident or put other motorists at risk.

Road rage and other forms of aggressive driving are especially dangerous to the motorcyclists on the road. With little to protect them from a fall, motorcyclists often endure serious, life-threatening injuries after being involved in an accident. To think that another person intentionally puts someone at this level of risk is astonishing, but it does happen.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Iowa issued an opinion involving a multi-vehicle motorcycle accident that required the court to determine if two collisions separated by a few seconds should count as one “accident,” as defined in the at-fault party’s insurance policy. In the case, Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association, the court ultimately determined that the chain-reaction collisions should count as just one accident. Thus, all injured parties will be subject to the single per-accident limit of the at-fault party’s insurance policy.

on-the-road-1513470The Facts of the Case

The original collision occurred when a semi-truck collided head-on with an SUV that was traveling the wrong way down the highway. After the initial collision, the semi-truck was pushed off to the shoulder of the road, and the destroyed SUV remained in the middle of the highway. Just a few moments later, a motorcyclist came down the highway and was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV’s wreckage. Sadly, the driver of the SUV was killed in the accident. The motorcyclist and the truck driver were both seriously injured as a result.

The motorcyclist and the truck driver both filed claims with the deceased driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for their property damage as well as for their injuries. Prior to settling those claims, the two plaintiff parties asked the court to issue an order that the two collisions constituted two separate accidents under the SUV’s insurance policy.

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