Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises an important issue for Maryland motorcycle accident victims who believe that their injuries were due to a poorly designed road or intersection. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff established that the government’s negligent planning and design of the road were the proximate cause of her injuries.

Dangerous IntersectionThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a northbound motorcycle being driven by her husband. The couple approached an intersection in which they did not have a stop sign. At the same time, a pick-up truck was traveling in a perpendicular direction and had stopped at a stop sign. The driver of the pick-up truck looked both ways before entering the intersection; however, as he pulled into the intersection, the plaintiff and her husband collided with the side of the truck.

The plaintiff was seriously injured, and her husband died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the government in charge of designing and maintaining the road, claiming that the road was negligently designed. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the government was negligent in failing to install a four-way stop at the intersection, allowing too high a speed limit, and failing to provide adequate signage in advance of the intersection.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raised an interesting perspective on an issue that commonly comes up in Maryland motorcycle accidents. The case involved an accident victim’s claim that he was an “occupant” in the vehicle that struck him because, after the collision, the man landed atop the car, which was insured by the defendant insurance company.

Rear-EndedWhile the court rejected the plaintiff’s creative argument, the case illustrates the type of outside-the-box thinking that can sometimes be successful in Maryland personal injury cases.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was stopped at a red light when he was rear-ended by the defendant’s vehicle. After the collision, the plaintiff fell backwards, landing on the hood of the defendant’s car and rolling up the windshield before falling onto the ground. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries in the accident and filed a personal injury claim against the defendant.

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As a general matter, Maryland government employees, entities, and organizations are entitled to immunity from Maryland personal injury lawsuits. However, under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA), accident victims can pursue a claim for compensation against the government in certain limited situations.

Gravel RoadUnder the MTCA, victims can pursue a variety of claims against government entities up to the statutory limit of $400,000 per claimant per incident. However, certain conduct is removed from the MTCA and will not be covered. Namely, this is if the person or entity that caused the injury acted with malice or gross negligence or took actions not within the scope of the person’s employment. Other important exceptions also apply, and anyone considering a claim against a government agency or official in Maryland should consult with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.

A recent case discusses one motorcycle accident plaintiff’s difficulties when attempting to bring a lawsuit against a local government for the condition of the roads that she believed caused the accident. While the state’s tort claims act involved in the case is different from Maryland’s, the case illustrates some of the common difficulties plaintiffs have when attempting to bring a lawsuit against a government entity.

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When someone gets on the back of a motorcycle, the last thing they are expecting is that they are going to be injured or killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident. Indeed, the vast majority of motorcycle operators are responsible motorists, but not everyone appreciates the risks involved in operating a motorcycle, and some motorcyclists take unacceptable risks.

Motorcycle CrashA passenger who is injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident may have a claim for damages against several parties. If the accident was caused by another driver, that driver and their insurance company may be on the hook for any injuries sustained by the victim.

In single-vehicle motorcycle accidents, passengers may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the driver of the motorcycle and the driver’s insurance company. In the event that the at-fault party does not have adequate insurance coverage, the passenger may be able to also file a claim with their own insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision.

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Earlier this year, a state supreme court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising an important issue for Maryland bicycle accident victims who were injured while riding on public property. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether a government landowner was entitled to immunity under the state’s recreational use statute when the path where the injury occurred was used for both recreational and non-recreational purposes.

Dirt RoadFinding that there was no language in the state’s recreational use statute requiring that land be used exclusively for recreational purposes in order for immunity to attach, the court determined that the government landowner was entitled to immunity. Thus, the accident victim’s case was dismissed.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding a bicycle with her niece along an asphalt path that was owned and maintained by the defendant municipality. The path was designated as a non-motorized path, and it was commonly used for recreational purposes. However, the path was labeled as “mixed use” and was also used by some commuters as a way to get to work.

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Riding a motorcycle on Maryland roads always presents some level of risk. However, that risk is heightened when traveling in a parking lot. While Maryland parking lot accidents are not normally serious when they involve cars or trucks, when the vehicle involved is a motorcycle or scooter, the chance of the accident resulting in serious injuries or death is greatly increased.

Parking LotIt’s common knowledge that, in general, motorists have a difficult time seeing motorcyclists while on the road, due to their slim profile. In a parking lot setting, however, the risks of not being seen are even greater, due to the number of other cars and trucks that could potentially obscure a motorist’s view. Additionally, motorists too often speed or drive aggressively through parking lots, not realizing the dangers that such conduct creates for those around them.

Scooter Operator Killed in Parking Lot Accident

Earlier this month, a 73-year-old woman was struck by another vehicle while riding an electric scooter in a suburban parking lot. According to a local news source covering the accident, the collision took place in the morning hours.

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Earlier this month, one woman was killed and another man seriously injured when they were cut off by a vehicle making a left turn in front of the motorcycle the two were riding. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, responding officers found one helmet at the scene that had been improperly secured by one of the victims.

Scooter HelmetThis tragic case brings up an important issue that many defendants in Maryland motorcycle accident cases try to raise:  the fact that the victim was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. To be sure, all motorcyclists should wear a helmet to protect themselves when they are riding. And it is true that, in some cases, a helmet can prevent serious or fatal injuries. However, under Maryland law, evidence of helmet non-use is inadmissible in a personal injury trial.

If wearing a helmet is required by law in Maryland, why then is the fact that a motorcyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet inadmissible in a personal injury trial? The answer has to do with how liability is determined in Maryland personal injury lawsuits.

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When a motorist causes a Maryland motorcycle accident, they may face two types of liability:  criminal and civil. A criminal case is brought by the local prosecuting authority and is intended to punish an at-fault motorist for the conduct that caused the accident. Thus, when a motorist is found guilty of a criminal offense, they may be fined, placed on probation, or sentenced to a term of incarceration. While criminal cases following motorcycle accidents are appropriate in some cases, the focus of these cases is not to help the accident victim recover from their injuries.

Nighttime IntersectionIf a motorcycle accident victim hopes to seek compensation for their injuries, they should file a civil Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Unlike criminal cases, the sole purpose of a civil lawsuit is to provide the victims of another person’s negligence with compensation for their injuries. This may include amounts for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and a decrease in the enjoyment of life, as well as for any pain and suffering the accident victim has endured as a result of the accident.

In some cases, a driver may face both civil and criminal liability for their role in causing an accident. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a civil case for damages is not contingent upon the filing of a criminal case against the same driver. Similarly, even if a motorist is found not to have been criminally liable for an accident, an accident victim may still be able to succeed in a civil case for damages because civil cases are held to a lower standard of proof than criminal cases.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that illustrates an important point to those who have been injured in a Maryland boating accident and believe their injuries were due to the inadequate warnings or defective construction or design of the vehicle. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against the manufacturer of a personal water craft (PWC) was sufficient as a matter of law.

WaverunnerUltimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case was not sufficient because it relied wholly on expert testimony that was found to be inadmissible at trial.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding as the fourth passenger on a PWC that was being operated by a 10-year-old child. At the time, the plaintiff had consumed some amount of alcohol, although it was unclear as to her level of inebriation. The plaintiff was wearing a bikini and was not wearing a wetsuit.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving allegations that a local police department was liable for an accident that resulted from a high-speed chase that was initiated by police officers. The case is important for all potential Maryland motorcycle accident plaintiffs to understand because it illustrates the importance of ensuring that all procedural requirements are met when pursing a claim against a state or local government.

MailboxThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were riding a motorcycle on the highway when they were struck head-on by another motorist who was traveling the wrong way. One of the motorcyclists was killed in the accident, and the other was seriously injured. As it turns out, the other motorist was fleeing from police when he entered the highway going the wrong direction. As soon as the motorist got on the highway, police abandoned their pursuit.

The surviving motorcyclist believed she had a claim against the police department, arguing that it was responsible for the accident because the officers were negligent in initiating the pursuit. However, the plaintiff did not provide notice of the claim to the local government, as was required by law, but instead proceeded to file a personal injury claim with the court.

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