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.

Oftentimes, the Maryland motorcycle crashes that we write about in this blog are crashes that involve both a motorcycle and a car, usually with the car making a careless error and hitting the motorcycle, causing the crash. But it is important to recognize that sometimes, Maryland motorcycle accidents can occur solely because of a rider’s careless error—sometimes not even involving another vehicle at all. In these situations, anyone injured as a passenger on the motorcycle may have a claim against the motorcyclist.

For an example of this second type of accident, take a recent incident from last month. According to a news report covering the incident, the motorcyclist, a 42-year-old man, was riding east on the highway with one passenger on his motorcycle, a 41-year-old woman. According to state police officers, the cyclist failed to negotiate a left-hand curve in the roadway and lost control of his vehicle. Both he and his passenger were thrown from the motorcycle off the shoulder of the roadway, sustaining serious injuries. Tragically, the passenger’s injuries were fatal, and she passed away. The cyclist was flown to a nearby hospital and treated for life-threatening injuries, ultimately surviving the accident. The crash remains under investigation.

This tragic accident serves as a reminder that Maryland motorcycle accidents are not always caused by a car crashing into a motorcycle, or even by another vehicle at all. Sometimes, they can just be caused by the motorcyclist themselves. In these cases, it is important to remember that there could still be liability—if a motorcyclist is negligent and gets into an accident while they have a passenger on their motorcycle, and their passenger is subsequently injured, they can then be held liable for their passenger’s injury in a personal injury lawsuit.

Riding a bicycle is a great form of transportation—it’s cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and a great form of exercise. However, Maryland residents who ride bicycles—whether it be to work every day or just occasionally to get some fresh air—should always practice safe biking habits and be aware of other drivers on the road. Bicycle accidents can occur in the blink of an eye and cause serious injury, or even death. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in crashes in the United States. As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a bicycle and any other vehicle, it is almost always only the cyclist who ends up being injured. But a large percentage of crashes can be avoided if cyclists follow the rules of the road and practice safe biking.

There are several ways cyclists can protect themselves before even heading out on the bicycle. The first way is one of the most important: wearing a helmet. But not just any helmet will do—it is equally important that a cyclist wears a properly fitted helmet that can actually protect them if they were to be in a crash. The sizing of helmets can vary from one manufacturer to the next, so before heading out on a ride with a brand-new helmet, take the time to accurately fit it to make sure that it’s snug and ready to protect you if the worst-case scenario occurs. In addition to wearing a helmet, cyclists can also protect themselves before even getting on the bicycle by wearing clothing that makes them more visible to others, tucking in shoelaces and pant legs, so they do not get caught in the bike chain, and planning their route to ride on bike lanes or bike paths whenever possible.

While biking, there are some additional steps that a cyclist can take to avoid a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages bikers to ride defensively and predictably. Defensively means being focused on the road and the traffic around you, so that you may notice a potential hazard or another vehicle early on and act quickly to avoid a crash. To ride defensively, drive with the flow of traffic, obey all street signs, signals, and road markings, avoid distractions, and keep a sharp eye out for hazards and potentially dangerous situations. On the other hand, Riding predictably means riding consistently, so other vehicles have a sense of what you intend to do. Additionally, it means riding where other vehicles might expect you to be—riding on the sidewalk may cause crashes, for example, because drivers in cars do not look at the sidewalk when looking to see if a turn is safe for them to make.

Motorcyclists face the unfair stigma that they are reckless and aggressive drivers, which often leads to the conclusion that they are at fault after a Maryland motorcycle crash. In reality, most motorcyclists are generally safe drivers. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one-half of all motorcycle crashes involve another motor vehicle. Almost 40 percent were caused by the other vehicle turning left in front of the motorcyclist. Further, according to the NHTSA, when motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the other (non-motorcycle) driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. In fact, in two-vehicle crashes involving passenger cars and motorcycles, 35 percent of the driver-related factor was the failure to yield the right-of-way compared to only 4 percent of motorcyclists who failed to yield the right-of-way.

A non-motorcycle driver may violate a motorcyclist’s right-of-way for various reasons. For example, motorcycles are smaller and may be less noticeable and more easily obscured, such as in a larger vehicle’s blind spot. Non-motorcycle drivers also may not be accustomed to motorcyclists’ movements and driving with them in general. Yet, motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as other vehicles on roadways. Motorcyclist advocates say that other drivers should look out for motorcyclists and educate themselves about motorcycles and how to drive safely with them in the roadway. To drive safely with motorcyclists, other drivers are supposed to allow motorcyclists a full lane width to allow motorcyclists to maneuver safely.

Unfortunately, motorcyclists are over-represented in traffic crashes and fatalities throughout the United States. According to the NHTSA, almost 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in 2018. Motorcyclists are about 28 times as likely as occupants in cars to die in a motor vehicle crash. In addition, seemingly minor crashes can result in serious injuries for a motorcyclist. But while insurance companies and juries may be quick to blame motorcyclists for causing the accidents, the stigma against motorcyclists can be overcome. For example, investigation after a crash, accident reconstruction, discovery tools, and litigation are some of the ways experienced legal advocates can build evidence in a party’s favor after a crash in order to hold the negligent party responsible. Injured motorcyclists should seek the compensation that they deserve if they are injured in a crash, despite any stigma they may face in the claims process and in court.

In this blog, we discuss all types of Maryland motorcycle accidents. Typically, accidents of this kind are caused by either negligent drivers or cyclists, who make a bad decision or careless error and crash. Sometimes, however, Maryland motorcycle accidents can be caused by something slightly more unexpected: animals in the road. A cat or dog crossing the road could be hit by a car or a motorcycle, causing a chain reaction crash behind them. Other times, animals might appear in the road and cause drivers to swerve to avoid them, the swerve then causing an accident. While most Americans like animals and enjoy nature, these examples illustrate that animals on the road can cause major crashes, and even death.

For example, according to a recent news source, a motorcycle accident occurred when a bear tried to cross U.S. Route 50. An 82-year-old man on his motorcycle tried to swerve to avoid crashing into the bear, but in doing so, he wrecked his motorcycle. The man died as a result of the accident. Another motorcycle came upon the scene and swerved to avoid the first motorcycle accident, but instead crashed himself. Officials responding to the scene took him to the hospital, and his condition is still unknown.

This example is just one of many—rogue animals on roads and highways cause accidents all the time. While these accidents might seem to be totally random, with no one at fault to hold accountable through a personal injury lawsuit, seasoned personal injury attorneys know that there may be more than meets the eye. While there are sometimes accidents with no one to hold responsible, Maryland motorcycle accidents caused by animals on the road may still be partially caused by a negligent party. For example, an owner of cattle or other livestock might know that, if not kept secure, the animals are likely to wander out into the road and cause accidents. If they do not keep their animals secure, they may be held liable for the resulting accidents. Or, a driver who has plenty of time and advanced notice to slow down and come to a stop before the animal in the street, but decides to push on full-steam-ahead and recklessly swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the animal, may be found responsible for the resultant crash. As such, Maryland residents injured in motorcycle crashes caused by animals on the road should consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss their case and possible claims for financial compensation. Even in cases involving a wild animal in the roadway, motorists may have a claim with their own insurance company.

Maryland motorcycle accidents often happen in the blink of an eye. One second, it’s business as usual and the next, tragedy strikes. Because of how quickly and unexpectedly motorcycle accidents occur, it is often difficult to figure out exactly what happened—or who was at fault. For example, a recent fatal motorcycle accident leaves many questions unanswered about what exactly happened, and who is to blame.

According to a local news report covering the incident, the incident occurred just before 10 a.m. one morning, when a BMW sedan had stalled in the slow lane of a highway, specifically on the high-rise section of a bridge. The driver of the BMW left the vehicle and was walking along the bridge. A group of motorcycles came upon the BMW, and most of them changed lanes to go around it. Two of them, however, struck the car from behind. As a result, the driver of one of the motorcycles—a 34-year-old man—was tragically thrown off of the bridge and into the water below, where his body was later recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The driver and passenger of the second motorcycle survived but were taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. It is currently unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision.

While we know that those injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident as a result of someone else’s negligence have the ability to bring a personal injury lawsuit, it is sometimes difficult to figure out who was negligent and what caused the crash. In the case above, there are many more facts one would need to know to determine fault. Why did the driver of the BMW leave his car? Why did the BMW stall out in the first place? Was there a safer place to pull off the road? If the driver was careless in some way, that might point to him being held liable for the motorcyclist’s death. It would also be important to know the visibility on the highway leading up to the BMW, and whether or not the motorcyclists were paying close attention to the road. Why did two fail to switch lanes? Were any of them under the influence of drugs or alcohol? The answers to these questions may determine who was at fault for this tragic accident.

Although drivers make left turns all the time—whether in a car, a truck, or a motorcycle—many people are not aware of how dangerous left turns can be. In fact, many Maryland motorcycle accidents are the result of someone attempting a left turn and then hitting a motorcycle that had the right-of-way. Just recently, a crash exactly like this was reported, giving a perfect example of what might happen.

According to a local news report covering the crash, a 50-year-old woman was driving an SUV and attempted to turn left. However, she violated the right-of-way of two oncoming motorcycles, resulting in a collision of all three vehicles. The drivers of the motorcycles—a 54-year-old man and a 25-year-old man—both tragically died at the scene.

There are many reasons why a driver in this situation might cause this type of accident while turning left. Perhaps the driver is intoxicated, and thus their judgment is clouded. Or, if it’s dark at night, drivers might find it hard to see motorcycles and assume that if they do not see a car coming then the path is clear. Drivers also could make risky moves like this if they are distracted while driving—by their phone, or by someone in the backseat—or if they have been driving many hours and are feeling fatigued. Whatever the reason, drivers who are at fault in causing accidents such as these can be held liable through a personal injury lawsuit.

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