Maryland motorcycle accidents can happen very quickly—in the blink of an eye. One moment, drivers and motorcyclists are on their way, and the next, there might be a tragedy. Because of this, sometimes, in the aftermath, it is unclear what exactly happened, or what caused the collision. While in some cases it may be clear—a driver ran a red light, for example—in many other cases, the individuals involved will have no clue what occurred, just that they were driving and suddenly everything changed. In these cases, there may need to be a significant amount of investigation after a motorcycle accident to determine what happened. This is what accident reconstruction experts specialize in.

For an example of an accident requiring this type of investigation and reconstruction, take a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred just this month. According to the news article covering the incident, the accident involved a motorcycle and a 2007 Jeep Cherokee SUV and occurred around 4 PM one Saturday afternoon. The motorcycle was traveling east on one road, and the SUV was attempting to cross that road when they collided. Sadly, the driver of the motorcycle, a 27-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene. The two children in the SUV were seriously injured. The 2-year-old child’s injuries were life-threatening, and they were transported by helicopter to a children’s hospital. The 7-year-old’s injuries were critical, but not life-threatening, and they were taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance before also being brought to the children’s hospital by helicopter. The crash is still under investigation, and it’s not known at this time what happened or what the cause was.

Motorcycle crashes with unclear causes can be very frustrating for those impacted. Without knowing what happened, Maryland residents are unsure if they caused it or if someone else did. The lack of answers can be difficult for many, especially while mourning a loss or recovering from injuries. But injury victims should know that even with an unknown cause and an ongoing investigation, they can still reach out to a personal injury attorney to discuss the case, their options, and their legal rights. Doing so can help prepare them and their family for when the cause of the accident is identified, and help the family feel in control during a precarious and difficult time. This early preparation can also be helpful to avoid missing the window of time within which one must file suit—the statute of limitations. As such, motorcycle accident victims are encouraged to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible after a crash.

The aftermath for accident victims dealing with serious injuries can be overwhelming. Maryland motorcycle and bicycle accident victims may suffer a range of damages available depending on their unique circumstances. Successful parties may be able to recover damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages in a Maryland lawsuit.

Economic damages, also known as special damages, are the out-of-pocket expenses that arise due to the victim’s injuries, such as medical bills, loss of income, and loss of earning capacity. Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are damages without a fixed dollar value, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages that may be recovered in a civil car accident case. For cases filed on or after January 1, 2021, the cap is $845,000 for non-economic damages.

Punitive damages may be available in some accident cases, although they are not routinely awarded in such cases. Punitive damages are only awarded in Maryland if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with knowing and deliberate wrongdoing. They are generally awarded only in the most egregious cases. Punitive damages are meant to serve as a deterrent for others and to punish the defendant for wrongful conduct. Statutory damages may also be available in some cases.

Hit and run accidents can be some of the most tragic and frustrating kinds of Maryland motorcycle accidents. While there is, of course, never a good accident, Maryland hit and runs can be particularly frustrating because not knowing the identity of the responsible driver can prolong—or even prevent—an injured motorcyclist from recovering in the aftermath of an accident.

Hit and run accidents are what they sound like—accidents where one vehicle hits another vehicle (or individual) and then runs from the scene of the crash by driving away. Typically, in the aftermath of an accident, an injured victim is so shocked that they do not think to take down the car’s make and model that hit them, let alone the license plate. And, often, in hit and run accidents, they are not even given the chance to get this information, as the driver usually leaves the scene of the crash immediately. Generally, drivers leave the scene because they are trying to avoid both civil and criminal liability—they may worry about being sued or, depending on the severity of the crash, even arrested.

Hit and run accidents are especially concerning for Maryland motorcyclists because motorcycle crashes are more likely to result in severe injuries and death. This is because motorcyclists do not have the protection around their bodies that drivers in cars do. Instead, they are more likely to absorb the impact of the crash themselves, or to be thrown from their motorcycle. For example, take a recent hit and run motorcycle accident that occurred just earlier this month. According to a local news report that covered the incident, the accident occurred around 6:30 AM one Monday morning when the driver of a passenger van made an illegal U-turn directly in the path of a motorcyclist, driven by a 29-year-old man. Surveillance video captured the incident and saw the driver of the van stopping briefly before fleeing the scene. The motorcyclist was transported quickly to a hospital by firefighter-paramedics, but unfortunately, he was soon after pronounced dead. The search for the driver of the van continues, and the investigation is ongoing.

Last Thursday, a group of 20 bicyclists engaged in an annual tradition involving riding the 130-mile stretch between Henderson, Nevada and Nipton, California, and back. But tragically, this tradition was interrupted when a box truck slammed into the group of cyclists who were riding on the shoulder of U.S. 95. In total, five cyclists were fatally wounded, and another four were seriously injured—including one who was initially in critical condition but is now fortunately stable. This accident sheds light on the sobering reality of Maryland bicycle accidents.

According to the New York Times, investigators are unsure how or why the truck hit the cyclists. However, through a preliminary investigation, they know that the driver left his lane, collided with the group of cyclists from behind, and then hit another car that was driving alongside the cyclists. The driver also collided with another group of cyclists that were riding in front of the Subaru. At this point, nothing indicates that the driver was impaired, and Highway Patrol reported that the driver stayed at the scene of the accident and is being cooperative.

Even as the investigation continues, the tragedy of the accident is almost insurmountable. One cyclist, who organized the ride and was cycling ahead of his friends when the crash occurred, said in a phone interview that he could immediately tell three of his fellow cyclists were killed instantly. He explained that he had to watch two die in front of him. He also reported that, although he was a police officer in the area for 22 years, he had never responded to a crash this bad.

Sometimes when Maryland motorcycle accidents occur, the cause is easy to identify. Perhaps a motorcyclist ran a red light, crashing into the side of a car or truck. Or perhaps a driver was distracted, texting while driving, and accidentally swerved into the other lane, hitting a motorcyclist. In these cases, it’s probably pretty easy to figure out what caused the accident and, importantly, who was responsible. However, the cause of some accidents might be harder to figure out. Sometimes accidents happen so quickly and unexpectedly that even those involved may not be sure what happened. Or, in some tragic cases, both individuals involved may end up being killed in the accident, meaning any knowledge they have about its cause dies with them.

For example, take a recent fatal head-on collision. According to a local news report covering the accident, the collision took place last month, when a car and a dump truck collided head-on, causing the truck to roll into a ravine. Both drivers were tragically killed as a result. Unfortunately, officials are not sure what happened—and eyewitnesses aren’t quite sure either. It seems as though one vehicle crossed the median line ran into the other, but which one is not clear.

Although there is no real need for the public to know exactly what happened in this case, the families of the deceased drivers may want to know for their own personal closure, as well as so they know whether or not they have a route to recovery under Maryland state law. State law allows for those injured—or the families of those killed—in a Maryland car accident to file a civil lawsuit against the person responsible for the crash (or, if that person was also deceased, then against their estate). However, in order to be successful in this suit, they must prove what happened to cause the crash and how it was the defendant’s fault. This can, obviously, be difficult when the cause of the accident is unclear.

Every year, far too many Maryland residents are injured or even killed in Maryland bicycle accidents. But the state government has exciting news on increased funding for programs that could help prevent these tragic accidents. Late last month, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced two new federal grant programs, with more than $13 million in grants, to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and connectivity in Maryland. According to a local Baltimore news report, the programs will fund 26 different projects sponsored by transportation agencies, local jurisdictions, and non-profits.

Governor Hogan explained the his “administration remains committed to prioritizing safety and connectivity in Maryland’s transportation network,” and that the grants will help local communities ensure safer roads for all. A large portion of the funds will go towards establishing on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities and working on “Safe Routes to School” projects. Many countries can expect to see bike paths created or repaired, and roads designed focused on safety. In Baltimore County, for example, $360,000 has been awarded to create a new network of trails at Patapsco Valley State Park. Tim Smith, the State Highway Administration Administrator for the Maryland Department of Transportation, explained that the grants represent an ongoing commitment to the safety of all motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists throughout the state.

Hopefully, these grants and the subsequent projects will lead to a significant decrease in the number of Maryland bicycle accidents each year. However, these accidents will not disappear completely, and motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists should all be aware of their risks when traveling. If an accident occurs, Maryland law allows those injured to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover financially for the harm caused. These lawsuits can provide accident victims with money to cover their past and future medical expenses, lost wages as a result of their injuries, and even their pain and suffering. However, unfortunately, getting this compensation is not an easy process—accident victims must file suit in court and go through the process of either bringing the case to trial or reaching a settlement deal with the defendant. Because this can be an intimidating process, individuals thinking of filing suit are encouraged to work with a Maryland personal injury attorney to help them know what to expect and prepare their case.

Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when their death is sudden and unexpected. Unfortunately, far too many Maryland families know firsthand what it’s like to lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident, especially because motorcycle accidents are somewhat more likely to result in death. Because motorcyclists are not protected in the same way drivers are by their cars, accidents involving them can result in motorcyclists being thrown from their motorcycle or otherwise hurt. For example, take a recent tragedy involving a motorcyclist who was killed just this month when a driver pulled out in front of him and caused a crash.

In the aftermath of this and other similar and fatal accidents, families may find themselves struggling, and overwhelmed with grief due to the psychological impact of losing a loved one suddenly. At the same time, they also may find themselves having to figure out how to pay for medical bills, or cover funeral and burial expenses. While nothing can undo the harm that was caused and stop the grief from occurring, Maryland state law allows families to file a wrongful death suit to help with the finances.

Wrongful death suits are civil suits brought in court against the driver who caused the accident and the fatality. Unlike criminal charges, which aim to punish the driver, civil cases focus solely on helping the victim and their family recover financial compensation. In wrongful death cases, a victim’s family generally must prove four things. First, that the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim. This is usually easy to prove—Maryland drivers owe a duty of care to all others on the road with them and must drive reasonably carefully to avoid harming others. Second, the family must prove that the defendant breached that duty. They may want to offer evidence that the driver purposefully did not stop at a stoplight, or that they were texting while driving—a breach of their duty to be careful. Third, they must prove that this breach was the cause of the injury. If the driver was texting while driving 10 minutes before the accident but then the actual accident was caused by something unrelated, then the texting did not cause the injury. Lastly, they must prove that actual harm was suffered as a result. Usually, the death of a loved one is sufficient to meet this element, but they must prove that the death was actually a result—not a poorly timed independent event.

In the United States, there are two main types of court cases: criminal and civil. Criminal cases are brought by the government against defendants who have allegedly committed a crime. If someone commits (or is suspected of committing) a bank robbery, for example, they might be arrested and charged with robbery, and if they are found guilty, they may be sentenced to jail. Civil cases, on the other hand, are when someone sues someone else. Like criminal cases, civil cases may or may not go to trial, but a civil defendant cannot be sentenced to jail. Instead, they are typically ordered to pay a certain amount of money to the plaintiff who brought the suit. While this difference between the types of cases is relatively clear, it can become complicated in Maryland bicycle accidents, when one accident could potentially lead to both types of cases.

For example, take a bicycle accident that occurred last month. According to a local news report, the crash happened on a Friday morning, when a bicyclist was riding northbound on the edge of the road and was struck by a vehicle. Tragically, the bicyclist, a 35-year-old man, suffered severe injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. A few days later, state police arrested a 27-year-old man thought to have been the vehicle’s driver. He was booked with failure to report a crash, hit-and-run driving, switching his license plate, driving under suspension, obstruction of justice, and negligent homicide. While it is too soon to know for sure, state prosecutors may choose to pursue a criminal case against him, and the defendant could be facing jail time and/or fines.

However, regardless of whether there is a criminal case, there may also be a civil case against the same defendant, resulting from the same accident. The existence of one type of case already arising from this crash does not preclude the other type of case. The victim’s family, in this instance, could potentially also bring a wrongful death claim against the defendant. In this case, if they were successful, the result would be focused not on punishing the defendant for his wrongs, but rather on making the plaintiffs whole. Thus, the typical damages in wrongful death cases are monetary compensation to cover pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and other direct costs resulting from the accident. Families may also obtain compensation for their non-economic, or emotional, damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

When many people picture a Maryland motorcycle accident, they probably picture a motorcycle and another vehicle traveling at high speeds down the highway. Perhaps they imagine the motorcycle was weaving around traffic dangerously, or a car ran a red light and crashed into the motorcycle. While these accidents do, unfortunately, occur (and often lead to severe injuries or even death), sometimes Maryland motorcycle accidents can happen in much more mundane—and seemingly safe—settings.

For example, consider pulling out of a driveway or parking lot. This is a basic driving move, one that even student drivers are trusted to do early on in their training. Typically, when pulling out of a driveway or parking lot, the vehicle is going slow, drivers are very aware of the situation around them, and there appears to be minimal risk of crashing. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Take a recent case from just earlier this month, where a situation like this turned deadly. According to a local news report, two motorcyclists were tragically killed in a motorcycle crash. The two victims—a 22-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman—were riding a motorcycle around 11 am one morning and traveling down the road when they collided with a Jeep pulling out of a gas station. The two motorcyclists were severely hurt, and ultimately died from their injuries. Police accident reconstruction is going on now.

One of the fundamental things all Maryland residents learn when learning to drive is how to safely change lanes. Changing lanes is a common part of driving, and when done safely, it does not cause any harm. However, failure to follow safety protocols whilst changing lanes, or even just not paying attention, can cause serious harm to others—especially motorcyclists on the road. In fact, negligence while changing lanes can cause serious or even deadly Maryland motorcycle accidents, since motorcyclists have far less protection around their bodies than drivers of other vehicles and are more easily knocked onto the road.

Take, for example, a recent fatal motorcycle accident that killed a Maryland motorcyclist. The crash occurred on I-95, according to a local news report, around 4:30 one afternoon. A 29-year-old woman from New Jersey was driving along the interstate when she decided to merge left. However, she merged into the path of a motorcyclist, a 30-year-old woman from Odenton, Maryland. The cyclist was thrown from her motorcycle, causing severe injuries. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The crash is still under investigation, but it provides a tragic illustration of how dangerous negligent lane changing can be. While the car could have changed lanes into the path of other vehicles—cars and trucks—the odds are that the resulting crash would have been less deadly, since drivers in cars and trucks are better protected by their vehicles. In addition, it is easier for drivers to spot cars and trucks in the other lanes, but harder to spot smaller motorcycles.

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