Maryland is a state that values higher education. Indeed, according to the most recent data, there are over 50 colleges across Maryland. Bicycles have long been the preferred method of travel for budget-conscious college students, especially in colleges and universities in large urban centers such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Thus, it isn’t surprising that many Maryland bicycle accidents occur on or around college campuses.

For the most part, colleges do a good job ensuring that bike travel on campus is safe. This means providing bike lanes, signage, and driver education about the presence of bicyclists and how to safely drive in an area where there is a large population of bicyclists. However, despite these efforts, Maryland bicycle accidents continue to occur.

When a bicyclist is injured in a Maryland bicycle accident, they can pursue a claim for compensation against one or more parties. Generally, this includes the driver that struck them, as well as any other potentially liable party such as the college or university, the driver’s employer, or another motorist that was involved in the collision. However, it is essential that an injured bicyclist understand Maryland’s strict contributory negligence laws and how they can preclude an injured cyclist from recovering for their injuries.

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Over the past couple of years, scooter-share companies have popped up in cities across the United States. A scooter-share is based on the popular dockless bike-share concept, in which someone can rent a bicycle for an hourly fee and then click a button on their phone when they are done using the scooter. Part of the appeal is that renters can locate a scooter on their phone through a GPS device that is installed on the scooter. This also allows users to leave the scooter anywhere they want.

While scooters are not particularly difficult to ride, there is certainly the potential for danger in allowing a large number of scooters to share the already crowded roads in Baltimore. Of course, scooter use is regulated, and riders are subject to a 15 mph speed limit on roads with a speed limit under 30 mph. On larger roads with a higher speed limit, scooters are permitted to drive on the sidewalk, but must travel below six mph. This also raises the concern of scooter-pedestrian accidents.

Not surprisingly, since the inception of the scooter-share program in Baltimore, there has been an increase in the number of Maryland scooter accidents. According to a recent news report, Baltimore lawmakers have had enough of these scooter accidents, many of which have been linked to uninitiated operators traveling at unsafe speeds.

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As we continue to shifts toward being a more environmentally aware society, more and more people are relying on bicycles as a primary source of transportation. Indeed, many of the large cities across Maryland and Virginia are in the process of making their streets more bike-friendly by installing additional signage, widening roads, and creating bicycle lanes. These efforts go a long way in reducing the number of Maryland bicycle accidents; however, the risks are still present.

When it comes to determining who is at fault in a Maryland bicycle accident, the legal doctrine of negligence applies. Thus, a bicycle accident victim can pursue a claim against any party who violated a duty of care that was owed the bicyclist, so long as that party’s conduct was a contributing factor in causing the accident.

Certainly, in some Maryland bicycle accidents determining potentially negligent parties is a simple task. However, accident victims should be aware that there may be additional parties who could be held liable. For example, if an accident was caused in part by a poorly maintained road, the local government responsible for maintaining the road may be a potential defendant. Maryland accident victims should note, however, that cases naming government entities as defendants must comply with certain additional procedural requirements.

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It is often said that over 95% of all cases are resolved through some kind of settlement agreement. Thus, it is almost a certainty that an accident victim will be made at least one offer to settle their case before it reaches trial. Settlement negotiations are consequently an essential part of a Maryland motorcycle case, even if the agreement is not accepted.

There are several reasons why so many cases settle. Primarily, it is because insurance companies are the ones defending most personal injury cases. Insurance companies are for-profit companies and, because of the nature of their business, they prefer to know what their exposure will be. That being the case, if an insurance company can settle a case for a known dollar amount, it may be willing to do so to avoid taking the case to trial and the possibility of a much larger verdict.

While this sounds reasonable in theory, in practice insurance companies tend to prey upon the desperation and suffering of accident victims. Many accident victims do not know the ins and outs of the insurance business, and by approaching accident victims at a very vulnerable time, insurance companies hope to settle claims for far less than they may be worth. A recent article discusses a motorcycle accident victim’s decision to turn down a settlement offer and take the case to trial. Of course, each case is different, and injury victims should only decide what to do with their claim after consulting with a dedicated Maryland motorcycle accident attorney.

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For those who regularly drive, knowledge of traffic laws becomes ingrained. Most motorists do not have to think about whether they need to yield to the person on their right or stop at a red traffic signal; they just intuitively know. While this makes driving – an activity that involves numerous complex tasks – much easier, it also means that motorists who encounter unfamiliar signage may be caught off guard, increasing the chance of a Maryland motorcycle accident.

For example, decades ago the concept of a traffic-circle was virtually unknown in the United States. However, in the recent past city planners have made use of traffic-circles to control traffic and prevent motorists from speeding through intersections. As more traffic-circles started popping up, there was an increased number of accidents due to drivers not knowing how to navigate a new traffic feature safely.

Another potentially dangerous situation is an intersection with flashing lights. While most motorists know that a flashing red light means they must stop and then proceed only when clear, some drivers are confused when confronted by a flashing yellow light. Of course, a motorist’s confusion or unfamiliarity with certain traffic features is not an excuse for causing an accident.

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Last month, a motorcyclist was killed in a fatal accident near Waldorf involving one other vehicle. According to a local news report covering the tragic Maryland motorcycle accident, the man was heading southbound on Poplar Hill Road when an SUV crossed into his lane of traffic and collided with the motorcyclist head-on.

Evidently, the driver of the SUV was traveling north when the traffic in front of him began to slow down. The driver applied his brakes in an attempt to avoid rear-ending the traffic in front of him, but lost control of the vehicle. The SUV then began to skid toward the center median and eventually into oncoming traffic, where it collided with the motorcycle. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have begun an investigation into the fatal motorcycle accident, but have not yet determined whether the driver of the SUV will face criminal charges.

Recovering After Losing a Loved One in a Fatal Maryland Motorcycle Accident

The pain of losing a loved one in any type of traffic accident is immeasurable. And while nothing can be done to bring a loved one back, family members may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation for the losses they have suffered.

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As a general rule, anyone who has been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident can bring a claim for compensation against the party that they believe to be responsible for causing the crash. If the motorcycle accident victim is successful, they may be able to recover compensation for their past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as for any pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident.

However, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have some of the strictest laws when it comes to determining which motorcycle accident victims can obtain compensation for their injuries. Each of these jurisdictions applies a slightly different version of a doctrine called “contributory negligence.” Under a contributory negligence framework, an accident victim is not permitted to recover for their injuries if they share responsibility for the accident that resulted in their injuries.

This may sound like a harsh law, and it is. In fact, even if an accident victim is found to be just 5% at fault for causing a collision, they will be barred from recovering anything for their injuries. The doctrine of contributory negligence used to be common across the country, but over time most states have passed legislation abolishing the doctrine in favor of a more accident-victim-friendly alternative. In fact, aside from Maryland Virginia, and Washington, D.C, only two other states apply the contributory negligence rule.

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Losing a loved one is always a very difficult and trying experience. However, when a loved one is killed in a preventable accident, such as a Maryland motorcycle accident, the feelings of frustration, anger, and loss are difficult to push aside.

In cases involving a negligent driver, the criminal justice system is often disinterested in pursuing a claim against the responsible driver. This is because criminal courts are typically concerned with intentional actions that result in injury, rather than a motorist’s negligence or poor decision-making. And even when a criminal charge is filed, the family of the deceased is typically just along for the ride, having no real role in the proceedings. In addition, even a successful criminal case against a negligent driver will do little to provide for the loss of financial support provided by the deceased. Overall, a criminal charge does little to comfort the family of the deceased other punishing the at-fault driver.

Under the Maryland wrongful death statute, the family members of a Maryland motorcycle accident victim can pursue a civil claim for damages against a negligent driver. Unlike a criminal case, the objective of a Maryland wrongful death case is less focused on the at-fault driver’s violation of the law and more concerned with the loss of life that resulted from the driver’s negligent actions. If successful, the surviving loved one may recover amounts for medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of financial support, as well as for emotional damages.

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When law enforcement officers respond to a serious Maryland motorcycle accident, the scene is often chaotic. The injured individual must be attended to, witnesses must be located and spoken to, and the scene must be secured and eventually cleaned up promptly as to not create an increased risk of causing a subsequent accident. As a result, determining fault in a Maryland motorcycle accident has always been an art as much as it has been a science, and extraneous factors such as inclement weather and the amount of traffic on the road at the time may influence how thoroughness of a post-accident investigation.

Often, investigators base their conclusions on assumptions. Of course, assumptions must be made, especially when there are conflicting accounts of what happened. Investigators will often “play out” the various witness accounts of what occurred to see which account makes the most sense. This is a time-consuming process, but also a necessary one because it is only after concluding an in-depth investigation that a cause of an accident can be confidently determined. And even then, investigators cannot be sure that they got it right.

According to a local news report, some law enforcement agencies are hoping to use recent advances in technology to assist them in determining the causes of serious traffic accidents. Earlier this month, a Chattanooga police received a call for a motorcycle accident. When officers arrived on the scene, they could immediately tell that there were two fatalities.

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With the increased prevalence of smartphones, distracted driving has become a major cause of Maryland traffic accidents over the past decades. Indeed, according to one government report, over the past few years there have been about 48,000 Maryland car accidents caused by distracted driving each year. Most of these accidents occur in the urban areas around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

The report acknowledges that determining the actual number of Maryland distracted driving accidents is difficult because verifying that a driver was distracted before causing an accident is difficult. However, the most recent report issued by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving is involved in about half of all Maryland motor vehicle accidents.

In 2016 alone, Maryland law enforcement officers issued over 34,000 citations for cell phone use while driving and another 1,800 for texting while driving. While these numbers have gone down over the past few years as government efforts to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving have increased, distracted driving is still a significant concern, especially for Maryland bicyclists.

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