Articles Posted in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accident victims have a long road to recovery. At first, there are the physical injuries and emotional trauma that are common after most motorcycle injuries. However, even after the body and mind have healed as best they can, accident victims are often left with recurring symptoms, lingering injuries, and mounting medical bills. As a result, many motorcycle accident victims choose to file personal injury lawsuits against the party or parties responsible for causing the accident resulting in their injuries.

Street SweeperWhen a motorcycle accident victim files a personal injury lawsuit, they will need to name all potentially liable parties who may have caused or contributed to the accident. In some cases, this is an easy task. However, in other cases, especially single-vehicle accidents, determining which parties are at fault can be difficult. In some cases, the poor design of a road or a poorly maintained road can create a very dangerous situation for motorcyclists.

An experienced personal injury attorney can be of great assistance to victims when the only potentially liable parties are government entities. This is because many times government entities are protected from some personal injury lawsuits due to governmental immunity.

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Drunk drivers present a danger to all motorists on the road, but motorcyclists are likely those who are the most at risk of serious injury or death when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel. It seems that drivers of cars and trucks have a difficult enough time keeping an eye out for motorcyclists when they are sober. Add alcohol or drugs to the mix, and the chances of a serious or fatal accident skyrocket.

Highway at NightWhen a motorcycle accident is caused by a suspected drunk driver, the injured party may pursue a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault party. Thankfully, the law allows for the injured party to take a “short cut” when it comes to proving their claim against the drunk driver through the doctrine of negligence per se.

Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that has been in effect in the United States for many years. It stands for the idea that if a defendant is found to have violated a law that was in place to protect the public from a certain danger or harm, a plaintiff who suffered the kind of harm the law was designed to prevent does not need to present evidence of the defendant’s negligence at a civil trial for damages. In the drunk driving context, this means that if a driver causes a serious or fatal motorcycle accident, and he was drunk at the time, the injured party doesn’t need to prove that the drunk driver was legally negligent. This may seem obvious, but the doctrine of negligence per se can make establishing liability in a case much easier and faster.

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Whenever a driver’s negligence causes a fatal motorcycle accident, the surviving family of the deceased may wish to pursue financial compensation for the loss of their loved one. In Maryland, this is done through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Motorcycle at SunsetWrongful death lawsuits in Maryland must meet several criteria before a party is entitled to financial recovery. First, the potential plaintiff must establish that they are the proper party to bring the lawsuit. In Maryland, the law requires that a “primary beneficiary” bring the lawsuit, if one exists. A primary beneficiary is defined as a spouse, parent, or child of the deceased. If there is no living primary beneficiary, a “secondary beneficiary” may be able to file the lawsuit. A secondary beneficiary is anyone related to the deceased by blood or marriage who relied on the deceased for financial support.

Once a party has established they are the proper plaintiff, they must prove the elements of a wrongful death claim. Essentially, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed some duty of care to the deceased and that the defendant’s violation of that duty resulted in their death. In most motorcycle accident cases, the duty owed to the deceased is easily established because all motorists owe a duty of care to those with whom they share the road. However, the remaining elements of a wrongful death case must still be proven.

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The driver of a vehicle who was apparently responsible for causing a fatal motorcycle accident in the city of Detroit last month was arrested approximately one mile from the scene of the crash after abandoning the car he had been driving and attempting to flee on foot. According to a local news report discussing the crash, authorities arrested two young men who admitted their involvement in the crash about an hour after the accident occurred. It was not made clear in the article why the men fled the scene of the crash or if alcohol or drugs were involved, although the accident remains under investigation.

MotorcycleThe Motorcyclist Was Struck by a Vehicle Traveling on the Wrong Side of the Road

According to the news report, the accident occurred during the early morning hours of August 24, when the motorcyclist was traveling westbound on a city street and was struck by a sedan traveling the wrong way in the westbound lanes. When authorities arrived on the scene, both vehicles were damaged in the middle of the road, and the motorcyclist was found nearby. The motorcyclist was declared dead immediately, and the driver of the other vehicle had left the scene on foot, although he was later found by authorities.

Responsibility for Hit-and-Run Accidents When a Negligent Driver is Not Found

Since the driver of the vehicle who appears to have caused the fatal motorcycle accident last month was located shortly after the crash, the family of the deceased victim may be able to receive compensation for their loss by making a wrongful death claim against the driver and the insurance company providing liability coverage for the car. In some cases, the responsible party in a hit-and-run accident cannot be located, and accident victims may have difficulty obtaining compensation for their expenses and loss related to a motorcycle accident.

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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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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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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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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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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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