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While there are many causes of Maryland motorcycle accidents, accidents involving another vehicle making a left turn into or in front of a motorcycle are among the most common. In most cases, these accidents are the result of a negligent motorist who fails to take notice of the motorcycle or accurately gauge the speed at which it is approaching. Indeed, experts estimate that roughly 40 percent of all motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle are due to the vehicle making a left turn. Maryland left-turn motorcycle accidents result in hundreds of injuries each year, most of which are entirely preventable.

Most left-turn accidents are the result of a driver not accurately being able to assess the speed of an oncoming motorcycle. Motorists are used to driving around other cars and trucks, and have a built-in sense of how quickly these vehicles move. Thus, most of the time, motorists can safely assess the speed of an oncoming car or truck and determine whether they have enough time to complete their left turn. However, the slim profile of a motorcycle challenges motorists’ assumptions because motorcycles often appear to be approaching more slowly than they are.

Another cause of left-turn motorcycle accidents is a driver’s failure to notice an oncoming motorcycle. Again, due to their slim profile, motorcycles may go unnoticed when approaching an intersection. In this situation, motorists may think they have a clear intersection when they do not. Regardless of the cause, left-turn motorcycle accidents are most often the fault of the turning motorist, as vehicles making left turns must yield the right-of-way to those going straight through an intersection. However, if a motorcyclist is speeding as he travels through the intersection, that may result in the motorcyclist losing the right-of-way, essentially making the accident their fault.

The doctrine of sovereign immunity protects state and local governments from many lawsuits. In cases against the state, in order for a Maryland motorcycle injury claim to go forward in court, the government has to specifically waive immunity for such a claim. Sovereign immunity protects not only the state, but also its employees as long as they are acting in their official capacity and their actions are without malice or gross negligence.

Local governments, such as cities as counties are also generally protected by immunity. However, unlike the state government, under Maryland law, local governments only benefit from immunity when they perform governmental functions, as opposed to proprietary functions. Courts have held that governmental functions are those that are sanctioned by the legislature, are solely for the benefit of the public, and have no element of private interest. Other courts have stated that the distinction is between acts that are performed for the common good as opposed to those that are done for the benefit or profit of a corporation.

For example, the operation and maintenance of public parks, swimming pools, and police forces are normally considered governmental functions, and thus are protected under immunity. However, whether a function is governmental or proprietary is often not clear, and has been the subject of much litigation.

Maryland’s recreational use statute (RUS) is designed to encourage property owners to make their land available to the public for educational and recreational use by limiting the property owner’s liability in certain circumstances. Maryland’s RUS can pose significant challenges to individuals that suffer injuries while visiting recreational properties. Under this statute, landowners that make their land available for recreational use do not owe their visitors a duty of care to keep their land safe or provide them warnings. In effect, landowners in these cases owe their visitors the same level of care that they would owe a trespasser. This means that landowners in these situations must only refrain from willful or wanton behavior that may hurt the visitor.

For example, in a recent opinion, an state appellate court addressed the defendant’s claim of immunity based on the state’s RUS. In that case, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a university after a university employee hit her with a university-owned vehicle. The university argued that, amongst other issues, they were not liable under the RUS. The court found in favor of the university, finding that the RUS applied, and the university only owed her a duty to not engage in bad faith, malicious intent, and gross negligence.

Maryland’s RUS is broad, and injured plaintiffs must understand the impact that their classification has on the outcome of their case. The statute protects owners if they allow visitors on their land for “any recreational purpose.” This means that, for example, if a person suffers injuries at their neighbor’s house while riding their neighbor’s dirt bike, the neighbor may be able to assert the RUS to limit their liability.

When someone causes a serious or fatal Maryland motorcycle accident, the accident may form the basis of a criminal charge against the at-fault driver. However, while judges in criminal cases can order restitution in some situations, the objective of a criminal case is not to compensate the victim for the damages they sustained. Instead, the criminal justice system is primarily concerned with punishing a defendant for violating the law.

A defendant in a criminal matter may also face a civil claim brought by those who were injured in the accident. These are often referred to as personal injury claims. Unlike a criminal case, the focus of a personal injury case is to compensate an accident victim for the damages they sustained as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Often, this includes damages amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, as well as for any emotional pain and suffering caused by the accident.

When a negligent driver’s negligence or recklessness causes a fatal accident, the accident victim’s surviving loved ones can bring a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. These claims are very similar to negligence claims except that wrongful death cases allow different types of damages, and the process of filing the case is slightly different. The takeaway is that accident victims are not limited by the state’s decision to pursue a criminal conviction against an at-fault driver, and can pursue their own claim against the motorist in civil court.

A Baltimore, Maryland news article recently reported a tragic drunk driving accident. Evidently, a 21-year-old woman under the influence of alcohol killed a motorcyclist after pulling out in front of him. The woman was driving a GMC box truck when she failed to yield to the motorcycle driver. She collided with the man, and he died on impact. The woman was arrested and charged with various crimes, including driving under the influence, driving while impaired, failure to yield, and manslaughter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people die in alcohol-related car accidents every day. Despite measures to prevent drunk driving, there is approximately one fatality every hour. Many Maryland drivers have to navigate typical hazards and congested traffic daily, impaired drivers only heighten the risk of a severe car accident.

Under Maryland law, adult drivers over the age of 21 with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more are considered impaired. A Maryland driver under the legal drinking age who has a BAC level .02 or higher could face a driving under the influence charge. If they have a BAC of .07%, they may face a DUI charge.

A Maryland chain-reaction car accident is one in which an initial collision between two or more vehicles starts a series of events in motion that ultimately causes subsequent accidents. Motorcyclists are especially at risk for getting involved in a chain-reaction accident because they are often unable to stop in time or steer clear of an upcoming collision.

Chain reaction accidents can be very dangerous, especially for motorcyclists who lack the protection provided by a car’s steel frame. Even an accident involving relatively slow speeds can throw a motorcyclist off their bike and onto the pavement, where they are at risk for being hit by another vehicle. In this situation, even wearing a helmet will not fully protect a rider from serious injury or death.

Everyone shares the responsibility to make the road a safe place. Motorists must maintain constant awareness of their surroundings, and should be sure to leave other vehicles with enough room to stop or take evasive actions, when necessary. However, in reality, motorists who travel on busy Maryland roads every day often adopt aggressive driving habits that put motorcycles at risk. When a motorist’s dangerous driving causes or contributes to a Maryland motorcycle accident, that motorist may be liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries.

Although reckless driving puts everyone on the road at risk, it poses an extraordinary danger to motorcyclists who have very little protection from a potential crash. Unfortunately, Maryland motorcycle accidents are often fatal, although many are completely preventable. While it’s impossible to ensure that all motorists drive carefully to avoid potentially tragic accidents, the reality is that sometimes accidents will happen. However, when accidents happen as a result of reckless driving, Maryland law allows victims to hold the reckless driver responsible for the harm caused.

Motorcyclists who are injured as a result of another driver’s recklessness can file a negligence action against the driver which, if successful, can result in monetary compensation for their injuries. All drivers in Maryland are expected to exercise reasonable caution while on the roads, acting as careful as an ordinarily prudent person would under the circumstances. If a driver’s failure to drive safely results in an accident, any accident victims can pursue a claim of negligence. To be successful in such a claim, a plaintiff must prove that the driver had a duty to act carefully in the situation, the defendant failed to act carefully, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

Take, for example, a recent motorcycle accident in Illinois. According to a local news report covering the accident, a motorcyclist and his passenger were driving south on a divided highway when the crash occurred. The driver of a Ford pickup truck, driving north on the same road, attempted to pass another car in a no-passing zone, and at a point where there was a curve in the road. Unfortunately, this resulted in a head-on crash with the motorcyclist. Both the operator and his passenger were thrown off of the motorcycle. The motorcyclist was seriously injured, and his passenger was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver of the pickup truck was uninjured.

Although most Mayland drunk driving accidents involve cars, trucks, and motorcycles, they can also occur in other contexts. For example, as the use of electric scooters and electric bikes continues to rise, reports of incidents involving alcohol are on the rise as well. Many people use these convenient modes of transportation to get around cities, but too often fail to use proper signals or wear a helmet. The lack of safety precautions and general rider inexperience raises concerns, particularly as e-scooter accidents involving alcohol use increase.

These days, electric scooters are increasingly being used throughout the U.S. Tourists and commuters use the scooters as a cheap way to get around, particularly in cities. Yet with this increased use, comes increased risks. A recent study found a rise in electric scooters accidents tied to alcohol. Many scooter riders also weren’t wearing helmets when they crashed.

The study investigated 103 incidents of people who were admitted to major trauma centers due to a scooter accident. About 42 percent of the people had moderate to severe injuries. Most injuries included fractures to the legs, ankles, forearms, collarbone, and shoulder blades. Half of those with fractures required surgery. There also were injuries to necks, kidneys, and spleens. Ninety-eight percent of people were not wearing helmets at the time of these incidents.

In Maryland, the effects of a motorist’s reckless driving can often be severe, especially for those riding motorcycles. Indeed, Maryland motorcycle accidents are among the most fatal type of traffic accident, and reckless driving is a major cause of these accidents. Under section 21-901.1 of the Transportation Code, reckless driving is defined as driving a motor vehicle “[i]n wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property,” or “[i]n a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

Not only are drivers who drive recklessly subject to criminal penalties, but they may also be liable for negligence or gross negligence claims. Drivers in Maryland have a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. This duty requires drivers to exercise the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise under similar circumstances. The extent of a driver’s duty may change depending on conditions of the weather, the time of day, and other circumstances.

For an accident victim to succeed in a Maryland personal injury claim, they must show that the defendant acted negligently by acting or failing to act in a certain way. General negligence claims require showing that: the defendant had a legal duty to use a certain level of care toward the plaintiff; the defendant failed to meet the standard of care required; the plaintiff suffered damages; and the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s damages. In more extreme cases, gross negligence claims may be pursued. Gross negligence refers to willful and wanton misconduct, or a wanton or reckless disregard for others.

In a typical Maryland motorcycle accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must establish the core elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages. However, when there is a statute that governs the defendant’s conduct in a specific situation, the plaintiff may be able to take a “shortcut.” In other words, the existence of a statute can be evidence of a legal duty, and the defendant’s violation of the law can be evidence that the defendant breached that duty.

To establish a Maryland negligence per se claim, the plaintiff first needs to prove that the statute covers the defendant’s conduct. Typically, to do this, the plaintiff must show that the law was passed to prevent the defendant’s behavior that led to the accident and that it was passed to protect from the type of harm the plaintiff suffered. Once the court acknowledges that negligence per se applies, the plaintiff need only show 1.) that the defendant violated the statute; and 2.) that the defendant’s violation of the law was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. There is no requirement that the plaintiff proves the defendant’s knowledge of the statute.

For example, if the defendant causes serious injury to the plaintiff while the defendant was driving while intoxicated, the plaintiff may be able to benefit from negligence per se. In this situation, the drunk-driving statute was clearly passed to prevent drunk driving because drunk driving poses a serious risk to other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. From here, the plaintiff would only need to show that the defendant violated the statute and that the defendant’s decision to drive while under the influence was what led to the plaintiff’s injuries.

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