The unexpected death of a loved one is devastating. Although nothing can bring a loved one back, a wrongful death claim may allow certain family members to hold wrongful actors responsible for their actions and to recover financial losses after a Maryland motorcycle crash. In Maryland, a wrongful death claim generally can be filed by a spouse, parent, or child of the victim. A spouse, parent, or child is considered a “primary” plaintiff for the filing of a wrongful death claim. In cases in which the victim has no spouse, parent, or child who qualifies to bring a claim, a wrongful death claim may be brought by any family member who is related to the victim by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the victim. These individuals are considered to be “secondary” plaintiffs for the filing of a wrongful death claim—meaning that they can only file the claim if no primary plaintiff exists. There are also circumstances in which a certain family member may not qualify to bring a claim. Only one wrongful death claim may be filed based on the death of the victim.

A wrongful death claim is intended to compensate family members for their losses based on the victim’s death. It also provides an avenue for family members to hold others responsible for their wrongful actions. Generally, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the victim’s death. If the victim’s death was caused by an occupational disease, the claim must be filed within ten years of the victim’s death or within three years of the date when the cause of the victim’s death was discovered, whichever comes first.

Defendants in wrongful death cases will often argue that the victim was at least partially responsible for the victim’s death. In Maryland, recovery may be barred if a defendant is successful in proving that the victim was partially at fault. This means that family members often have to defend against such claims in addition to proving the defendant’s fault.

Left turns are generally made without any issue, but they are actually quite dangerous for Maryland motorcyclists. In fact, about one-fifth of all crashes in the United States are caused during a left turn, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Even more alarming, in 42 percent of all fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, the other vehicle was making a left turn while the motorcyclist was going straight, passing, or overtaking another vehicle, according to statistics from the NHTSA in 2013. This type of tragic left turn accident occurred last week, killing the motorcyclist in the crash.

According to one news source, the motorcyclist was killed in the left-turn crash with a truck. A preliminary investigation by local law enforcement indicated that the 21-year-old truck driver was attempting to make a left turn and crashed into the motorcyclist as the motorcyclist was driving straight in the opposite direction. Police are continuing to investigate the crash and no charges have been filed yet. The 46-year-old motorcyclist had been riding a 2003 Harley Davidson and died at the scene of the crash.

Left turns are dangerous because drivers have to decide a number of things in a short period of time, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The NHTSA advises drivers to make sure to take the time to look in one’s rear and side-view mirrors and to wait until drivers can see around any obstructions and to scan the roadway for all users, including pedestrians and motorcyclists, who can be hard to see. The NHTSA reports that 41% of all motorcycle crashes are due to drivers reportedly failing to see motorcycles. Drivers may be distracted or it may be that weather, signage, or other parties played a role in the crash. Drivers may also have been under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or medication. There are a number of factors and assigning blame and liability for the crash can be complicated in a personal injury lawsuit.

Sometimes, when a Maryland motorcycle accident occurs, it is unclear what exactly happened. These accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and it is surprisingly easy for the people involved and those who witnessed it to actually have no idea what happened. But, in some cases, there is actually a video of the crash. Recently, a certain video of motorcyclists on the interstate made headlines when it showed that the motorcyclists were breaking the law, a huge hazard and potentially leading to major crashes.

According to a local news article, the video shows motorcyclists breaking the law doing slow tricks on the interstate. These slow tricks can be a huge frustration for other drivers on the interstate—they can interfere with the flow of traffic and cause accidents. In short, they put the whole public and drivers in danger. For instance, earlier this year, a group of motorcyclists doing these tricks was in the way of traffic, and a truck tried to pass them but ended up crashing into one. Both the truck driver and the motorcyclist were taken to the hospital, showing how reckless driving can cause serious crashes. And, it is helpful when these motorcycle tricks are caught on camera—if an accident is caused, then officials can refer back to the video to know exactly what happened. These videos can also be used in personal injury lawsuits to prove who caused the accident and who is liable for the ensuing damage.

However, videos like this can cause the general public to believe that all motorcyclists are reckless and constantly causing accidents. But this is an unfair characterization—most motorcyclists are cautious and responsible. If they get into an accident, it is very possible that they were not the cause—but because of videos like these, others involved may assume that it was the motorcyclists’ fault. Even in cases where motorcyclists are hit by cars and injured or even killed, there may be a dominant narrative that it was their fault. Not only is this unfair, but it can really affect the outcome of their personal injury lawsuit, should they choose to file one. They may want to recover against a driver who hit them and caused them injuries, but perhaps the jury is unfairly biased against them and presumes it was their fault. In situations like this, the motorcyclist will want to rebut this assumption and make their best possible case to the judge, but this can be difficult on their own. That’s why many choose to work with a personal injury attorney—an experienced advocate who can defend their legal rights and who understands the laws in this area.

About one-third of all traffic fatalities are caused by alcohol, and while traffic has decreased during the pandemic in many places, drug use appears to be more common among drivers. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at five hospitals between March 2020 and July 2020 revealed that almost two-thirds of seriously or fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug. Alcohol sales also have reportedly increased in the U.S. during the pandemic. Maryland has serious criminal penalties and sanctions for those drivers guilty of a Maryland DUI crash. First-time offenders in Maryland may face up to one year, and jail can be fined up to $1,000 and face a six-month license revocation and 12 point license sanction. Drivers convicted of certain offenses must also participate in the state’s Ignition Interlock Program.

Injury victims in a DUI crash involving the use of drugs or alcohol may be able to recover financial compensation. If a driver was convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that evidence is generally admissible in a civil case. There is also a lower burden of proof in a civil case, and a case may be possible even if a driver was not convicted of a criminal offense.

In a civil case, a victim has to prove that the driver had a duty, failed to meet the duty by acting or failing to act in some way, the victim suffered damages, and the driver’s acts caused the victim’s damages. Victims can also file a claim against people who provided alcohol to the driver in some circumstances. Although Maryland generally does not have a “dram shop” law that would allow individuals to sue a commercial alcohol vendor, a social host may be liable for serving alcohol to a drunk driver if there was a special relationship between the driver and the server.

Continue reading ›

As the weather continues to warm, many motorcyclists will take to the roads for daily transportation and leisure. Most motorcyclists understand the importance of driving safely; however, accidents still occur. Whether consciously or not, the media and law enforcement often impose negative biases towards motorcyclists. These biases can significantly impact a motorcyclist’s recovery after a Maryland motorcycle accident. Stereotypes associated with riders often color them as reckless and dangerous. In turn, riders face a disadvantage during settlement negotiations, insurance disputes, and personal injury lawsuits. It is vital that motorcyclists contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies after an accident.

There are many unfair biases that an attorney can help a motorcyclist overcome. The main biases and prejudices that motorcyclists face come from law enforcement, medical providers, jurors, and media depictions of an accident. For instance, recently, a news report described a collision between a motorcycle and a mail truck. According to the article, the mail truck was stopped while attempting to turn left when a motorcycle drove into the vehicle’s side. The rider was ejected from his bike and suffered fatal injuries in the accident.

In cases such as the one above, the article describes the incident through a lens that may lead a reader to infer that the motorcycle improperly went through the light and hit the mail truck. These incidents often get reported to the police with the same inference. Law enforcement may enter a situation assuming that the motorcyclist was reckless. This perception may skew the entire investigation.

In this blog, we often say that Maryland bicycle accidents can happen to anyone. Most bicyclists do not expect, when they go for a ride, to get into an accident. However, the truth is it can happen when you least expect it. The recent case of Shawn Bradley, one of the tallest basketball players in NBA history, illustrates this point. While many would think it would be almost impossible for a driver not to see the 7-foot-6 man on his bicycle, earlier this year a driver in a car hit him while he was riding a bike just down the street from where he lived. The crash resulted in Bradley suffering a spinal cord injury, which caused him to be paralyzed; a tragic consequence of an upsetting crash.

Unfortunately, as a recent news source recently pointed out, the way that the news media covered the accident added insult to Bradley’s injury. Headlines abounded about how Shawn Bradley was “paralyzed following bicycling accident,” failing to even mention the fact that another driver was involved or note what caused the accident—a negligent driver. In the cases where the cause of the crash was named, it was often blamed on the car, rather than the driver. In fact, in 2019, research was published on how the media reported traffic crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians and found that 80% of the time the story subtly shifted the blame, by minimizing the driver’s role in the crash.

While this may seem just a harmless choice of words, the truth is reporting in this way is part of a larger problem. As the news report noted, words matter, and the media often rely on initial crash reports from law enforcement for their stories. Those reports are often incomplete, without a victim’s statement, and may incorrectly assign the blame to the cyclist instead of the driver. The larger issue here is that cyclists are being implicitly blamed for tragic accidents that happen to them, and negligent drivers getting away with causing tragic accidents.

Electric scooters are growing in popularity all across the United States, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. These scooters are convenient and easy to use, and many people are using them to travel from home to work, to run their regular errands, or even to get some fresh air in parks. Despite their growing popularity, there are concerns about the personal safety of riders and other vehicles on the road with them that lead to some questions about electric scooter use in Maryland, particularly amidst more and more reports of electric scooter accidents each month.

For example, just a few weeks ago an adult man was killed in an electric scooter accident. According to a local news article, the fatal crash happened on a Tuesday evening just after 5 PM. Police say that the man was riding a stand-up electric scooter southbound in the dedicated bicycle lane on the east side of the road. A vehicle was exiting a parking lot and preparing to turn north. As the car turned, the scooter tried to stop, but the man was ejected over the handlebars of the scooter and then got stuck under the car. Medics rushed the man to the hospital, but he, unfortunately, died from his injuries. The full investigation of the accident is ongoing.

This accident—one of many electric scooter accidents over the past year—raises some questions about the safety of electric scooters. Maryland residents who are thinking about riding a scooter must make sure to follow all safety rules and regulations and drive them properly. Maryland State law regulates these scooters under the same code that regulates standard bicycles, meaning they must be operated on the road (not sidewalks) and follow all traffic laws. These laws include, but are not limited to, stopping at stop signs, obeying traffic signals, riding in the direction of traffic, and yielding to other vehicles and pedestrians. Like bikes, they are expected to be ridden in bike lanes when applicable. For maximum safety, riders should avoid busy roads and choose routes with low traffic, even if it makes the ride a bit longer. Additionally, riders should always wear a properly fitting helmet and refrain from wearing earbuds or headphones while driving. Following these guidelines can help prevent tragic scooter accidents from occurring, but in the case that they do, riders should make sure to call a personal injury attorney right away to learn about their legal rights and options in the aftermath.

According to a recent news report, although traffic has decreased with the COVID-19 pandemic and the issuance of stay-at-home orders, bicyclists’ deaths remain high. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, there were 857 bicyclists’ deaths in 2018, making it the year with the highest number of bicyclists’ deaths since 1990. That number remained high in 2019, with 846 bicyclists’ deaths. Although there was a substantial decrease in 2020, with 697 bicyclists’ deaths, the number was shockingly high considering the stay-at-home orders and decreased traffic. According to the Maryland Highway Safety Office, concerning Maryland bicyclist crashes, there was an average of 816 Maryland bicycle and pedalcycle-involved crashes in recent years. Bicycle crashes are especially common in urban areas, with 86 percent of total Maryland bicycle crashes occurring in urban areas in recent years.

Bicycle sales have soared in 2020, which means that there are more cyclists on the road. Other factors contributing to the high number of bicyclists’ deaths include high-speed limits, distracted drivers, and poorly designed roads, according to BikeMaps.org and Outside magazine. Those sources found arterial roads to be the most dangerous, which are defined as busy, multilane streets with traffic signals at the intersections and speed limits above 30 miles per hour. They found that arterial roads made up 65 percent of bicyclist deaths in 2020.

If your loved one has been in a Maryland bicycle accident you may be able to recover compensation from a driver or another person or entity at fault for the crash. Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act (the Act), allows certain family members to file a claim against parties that caused the decedent’s death. The Act was enacted as a way to compensate family members of the decedent based on their losses.

In 2019, a major motorcycle accident made headlines when a truck crashed into a group of motorcyclists, killing seven. A subsequent investigation found that the driver of the truck was under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. Federal authorities reported that the crash, which occurred on a rural, two-lane highway, was likely caused by the truck crossing the road’s centerline. The trucking company was seen as at-fault, and authorities reported that the company and its owners had a substantial disregard for safety regulations and were not in compliance with them, which could have led to the crash. Now, almost two years after the crash, the owners of the trucking company have been charged with falsifying records and lying to authorities as the investigation continued.

According to a news article covering the update, the owners, a 35- and 36-year-old man, are alleged to have told at least one employee to falsify records and driving logs in an attempt to evade federal safety regulations. After doing so, they lied about it to a federal inspector. They are now facing criminal charges and may end up spending time behind bars for their actions.

This example illustrates the relationship between civil and criminal lawsuits after Maryland motorcycle accidents. While some people may think that having a lawsuit filed against you is the same no matter what, the two systems are actually different, and an individual may face both types of lawsuits at once. For instance, in the case discussed above, the owners are facing criminal charges. They may also, however, be facing civil charges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed Maryland residents’ way of life, including their transportation habits. While there are fewer motor vehicles on the road than usual, in part because people are working remotely and generally staying at home, an increasing number of people have begun riding bicycles, either as a form of exercise or for transport or leisure. Individuals who used to rely on public transportation to get around town, for example, may choose to bike to avoid the crowds and possible contagions. Individuals working from home may also go on bike rides to stretch their legs and get outside of their house safely and responsibly. Generally, more people riding bicycles is a good thing—biking is cost-efficient, good for the environment, and a great form of exercise. However, something for all Maryland residents to keep in mind is that bicyclists are particularly susceptible to serious injuries when they are involved in a bicycle accident.

For example, take a recent bicycle crash that occurred just this month. According to a local news article covering the incident, the crash occurred one Sunday at 5:00 PM when a driver in a car struck a bicyclist. The local police department reported that the driver failed to use proper care when entering the lane, and thus hit the bicyclist. The bicyclist was injured and taken to the local hospital, but fortunately has since been released. Still, the crash is a recent example of the hazards that bicyclists could face on the road, particularly since they do not have the protection surrounding their body that those driving cars or trucks do, for example.

Maryland residents who are biking or plan to start biking soon can and should take certain steps to protect themselves from these potential hazards. First, bicyclists should always wear proper protective equipment. One important piece of this is a sturdy helmet that fits properly. While hopefully, one will not need it, a well-fitting helmet can be the difference between life and death in some Maryland bicycle accidents. Bicyclists should also make sure to take proper care of their bike by taking it in for regular inspections, and should inspect it at home as well—checking the tire pressure, making sure the brakes work, and checking on the chain and gears before going on a ride. While riding, bicyclists can protect themselves by driving with the flow of the traffic, obeying street signs and signals, staying vigilant and aware of the surroundings and any potential danger, and refraining from texting, listening to music, or doing anything else distracting.

Contact Information