February 28, 2013

Van Hits Motorcycle from Behind at Washington County Intersection; Rider Injured, Passenger Dies from Injuries

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

We fully understand how a segment of the motoring public is draw inexorably to the pastime of motorcycle riding. For one thing, it is an exciting sport with many rewards such as a feeling of freedom, a connection with nature and the outdoors far beyond that which we as automobile drivers can ever truly experience, and it is an economical way to travel. If it wasn’t for the fact that cold or inclement weather limits most people’s enjoyment of bikes in general, there might be even more individuals taking up the pastime.

Of course, along with its many big pluses, motorcycling does present a number of risks, most importantly to the rider himself. By being exposed almost completely to all of the dangers on our roadways, bikers assume a great deal of risk, not the least of which are those ever-present roadway hazards or possible traffic collisions.

While a passenger car accident may surely produce a few injuries at the very least, being killed in a low- or medium-speed automobile crash is not as great a threat as being killed in a traffic accident while riding a cycle. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues have seen too many individuals severely hurt, permanently disabled or killed outright to believe that motorcycling is not an inherently dangerous activity. Certainly it is not a pastime for those who aren’t totally committed to the sport, body and soul.

Over the past decade, we have seen motorcycles, scooters and other powered cycles gain in popularity with the motoring public, if not for the joy of open-air motoring, certainly for the economic benefits provided by these relatively fuel efficient motor vehicles. But, again, the advantages enjoyed by the use of these machines can come at a steep price for some of those unlucky individuals. In fact, based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are five times more likely to be hurt as a result of a roadway collision or other traffic-related incident than an occupant of an automobile.

One of the biggest threats to motorcycle riders and their passengers is the car or truck driver who is not expecting to come upon a bike or who is distracted at just the wrong time. Just like a commercial trucking accident involving a tractor-trailer can kill or maim individuals in a much smaller passenger car, a biker hit by even a small economy sedan has a high likely hood of being killed; and through no fault of his own. This is reflected by statistics that show motorcyclists to be 25 times more likely caught up in a fatal traffic accident than the occupant of ANY kind of passenger automobile.

And don’t assume for a minute that it always happens to someone else. This kind of thinking, as many a seasoned biker will tell you, is a dangerous assumption that can have grave consequences should it affect the way one rides. Using caution at all times is the best defense for any motorcycle rider. Yet, even the best prepared rider can be caught by surprise. We were reminded of this after seeing a cryptic, yet sobering news item a while back. Though it happened last year, the event is nonetheless a lesson for everyone who gets onto a motorcycle for transportation or pleasure. According to that news report, a passenger on the back of a motorcycle died following a rear-end collision in Washington County, MD, last October.

Based on the brief information given, the rider and his passenger were sitting aboard the bike at an intersection, apparently waiting for the traffic signal to change. It appeared that the two people may have been husband and wife, which makes this story all the more tragic. Police reports suggested that while the bike was stopped at Halfway Blvd., a van approaching the couple’s motorcycle from behind failed to stop. The force of the collision threw the bike something like 100 feet from the point of impact.

The two victims were taken to Meritus Medical Center for treatment of their injuries; and while it appears that the man survived the crash, doctors could not save the woman, who died some time later from her injuries. Based on the news article, Police said that charges were pending for the driver of the van that hit the couple’s bike. A sad note to end on, but a reminder that safety is a relative thing when operating a motorcycle. Please be extra careful when riding and always try to expect the unexpected, as difficult as that may be.


UPDATE: Woman Killed in Motorcycle Crash, Your4State.com, October 22, 2012