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Determining liability and the appropriate amount of damages in a Maryland multi-vehicle accident can be a complicated process. In many situations, other motorists will attempt to evade responsibility by blaming each other for causing the accident. This can make it more difficult for those injured in the accident to recover for their injuries. To avoid placing the burden of collecting from each defendant individually, Maryland follows the law of joint and several liability, meaning an accident victim can file a lawsuit for damages against both parties and recover the full amount of damages from any party the jury determines is liable.

Recently, an off-duty Maryland police officer died after he was hit by two vehicles on the Beltway. According to a local news report, the police officer was driving his motorcycle when a sedan lost control and veered into his lane. The driver of the sedan reported that he was trying to pass a slow-moving street sweeper. The police officer was thrown over a barrier and landed in the northbound lane. The police officer was then struck by two additional vehicles. He died from his injuries at the hospital later that evening. It is unclear which parties are at fault for the accident, but initial reports do not indicate that the police officer was responsible for the accident. Maryland State Police are still investigating the crash to determine what parties are at fault.

Maryland car accident victims can recover from multiple parties under the theory of joint and several liability. Joint and several liability allows a victim to recover damages either from each defendant separately or collectively. A typical scenario is when two drivers merge onto the highway and cause an accident or injury to a third driver. In these instances, a judge or jury will determine whether more than one party is responsible for the accident. If it is determined that multiple parties shared responsibility, each defendant will be responsible for all of the damages owed to the plaintiff.

Maryland motorcycle accidents occur in a split second, and most riders do not have time to react before an imminent collision. However, riders should always be prepared to lay the bike down if the need arises. Of course, laying down a motorcycle is a big decision that will result in the damage to the bike and may result in serious injury to the rider. Thus, riders only should ditch a motorcycle in the event of an immediate and unavoidable motorcycle accident.

As we have noted in previous posts, Maryland accident law is unique in that it precludes an accident victim who is partially at fault from pursuing a claim against any other driver involved in the accident. This concept is referred to as the doctrine of contributory negligence; if a plaintiff is found to be contributorily negligent by a judge or jury, then they can recover nothing for their injuries. While the doctrine of contributory negligence is outdated, and most other jurisdictions in the United States have shifted away from its use, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. still employ the doctrine.

Laying down a motorcycle is technically a choice. However, it is not a choice that any rider wants to make. The question arises, then, if a motorcyclist chooses to lie down their bike are they then foreclosed from pursuing a Maryland personal injury claim against another driver whose negligence forced them to make the decision. In reality, a rider’s decision to lie down their motorcycle should be viewed as the rider attempting to mitigate their own damages; however, courts do not preclude defendants from arguing that the plaintiff laid the bike down unnecessarily. As is often the case in the law, these are fact-specific determinations that will come down to the specific circumstances of each individual accident. So, unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to the question.

The opioid crisis, by nearly all accounts, has turned into an epidemic. While opioid medication may be prescribed with the best of intentions, the addictive nature of the medication too often results in patients becoming dependent on the medication. Indeed, it is estimated that 20-30% of all patients who are prescribed opioids abuse the medication. Considering that there are approximately 214 million prescriptions written each year for opioid medication, the number of people who abuse the medication is staggering.

The “high” that opioid users get from the medication impairs their ability to drive. It is commonly understood that opioids cause drowsiness and impair cognitive functioning. Users may have a hard time fighting off sleep, and they can “nod off” unexpectedly. At the same time, the drug reduces the user’s ability to make rational decisions. Given the number of people who take opioid medication and the significant effects it has on their ability to drive a car safely, it is no surprise that opioids are involved in an estimated 20% of all drugged driving accidents.

If a driver who is under the effects of opioid medication causes a Maryland motorcycle accident, victims who were injured in the accident can pursue a claim for compensation against the driver. Importantly, it is not essential for the purposes of a personal injury case for the victim to prove that the at-fault driver was taking the drug illegally; the relevant question is whether the driver was legally negligent. Driving under the influence of opioid medication – even if prescribed – may constitute negligence and can be the basis of a Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

The tragedy of losing a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle accident is an experience that no one should ever have to go through. However, on average, there are approximately 70 fatal Maryland motorcycle accidents each year. While some of these accidents are attributable to rider error, many involve negligent motorists who failed to take account of their surroundings.

Under Maryland law, when a person is killed due to another’s negligence, the surviving loved ones of the accident victim can pursue a Maryland wrongful death claim against all responsible parties. It is important the families of accident victims understand that Maryland law requires that a proper party file a wrongful death claim. Under Maryland Code § 3-904, a “primary beneficiary” must be the one to bring the claim. Primary beneficiaries are defined as the “wife, husband, parent, or child of the deceased.” If no primary beneficiary exists, “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased” can bring the claim. These are referred to as secondary beneficiaries.

Once a party establishes that they are a proper party, they must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their loved one’s death. In this sense, a wrongful death case is similar to a traditional Maryland personal injury case, requiring a plaintiff to establish the four elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

In most Maryland motorcycle accidents, the parties involved each has their own version of what happened in the moments leading up to the crash. Often, this results in both sides telling their story to the jury, and the jury determining which of the parties’ version of the events is most credible. Of course, the other evidence presented at trial also plays an important role in assessing a witness’ credibility.

One particularly strong type of evidence is a motorist’s decision to leave the scene after an accident before the police arrive. Jurors may rightly wonder why an innocent driver would attempt to flee the scene of an accident. Additionally, a motorist’s decision to leave the scene while there are others who were involved in the crash and may be in immediate need of medical attention shows a certain callousness. For these reasons, Maryland hit-and-run accidents are often strong cases for the accident victim.

After any Maryland traffic accident resulting in injury, property damage, or death, all motorists involved in the collision must stop and provide their name, address, vehicle registration, and insurance information. Additionally, motorists must “render reasonable assistance” to anyone who was injured in the accident when the injured party requests assistance or if it is reasonably apparent that they require medical assistance. A motorist’s failure to comply with these requirements can not only result in criminal sanctions, but can also be the basis of an independent Maryland personal injury lawsuit.

In April 2019, a woman was killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident when a dump truck backed into a motorcycle she was riding on as a passenger. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred around 11:30 in the morning in St. Mary’s County, near the intersection of Mt. Wolf Rd. and Chappelear Drive.

Evidently, a group of county public works employees were working alongside the road. One of the crew members passed the work crew while driving a dump truck. The employee pulled the dump truck over to the side of the road, intending on backing the truck up next to the crew. However, as the driver began to back up, he ran into a motorcycle. The driver told police that he checked his mirrors before proceeding to back up, but that he did not see the motorcycle behind the truck.

The motorcycle passenger was taken to the hospital, but soon after died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident. The driver of the motorcycle was also hospitalized with serious injuries, but is expected to recover.

When someone purchases a Maryland auto insurance policy, the insured must provide the insurance company with the make and model of each vehicle that they want to be insured. Typically, people choose to purchase insurance on each of their vehicles; however, it is not uncommon for a vehicle owner to choose not to name a vehicle in a policy. This may be because the vehicle is used only seasonally or is used exclusively by someone who is away on military leave or at college.

When an insurance company writes a policy, the coverage will generally extend to all vehicles named under the policy. However, if a policyholder chooses not to name a vehicle in the policy, the insurance company will likely exclude that vehicle from coverage. This is commonly referred to as the “owned but not insured” exclusion. A recent case illustrates how this exclusion could impact an injury victim’s ability to recover for their injuries.

According to the court’s opinion, a teenager died after he was involved in a fatal accident while he was operating a 49cc moped. The teenager’s family filed a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, recovering the policy maximum of $100,000. The teenager’s family also filed an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim against their own insurance carrier, seeking benefits for the loss of their son’s life.

The concept of bike-shares has exploded across the country, with most large cities having a bike-share program. Bike-shares are generally seen as a good alternative to public transportation because they allow riders to rent bikes from one of many locations across the city and return the bike to any location near the rider’s destination. Some cities, including Washington, D.C. have gone a step beyond the traditional bike-share concept, and have implemented electronic bike-shares.

Not surprisingly, some critics of the electric bike-share concept argue that bike-shares increase the number of Washington, D.C. traffic accidents. These concerns are based mostly on the fear that electric bike-shares allow inexperienced users to operate machines that, when misused, could very easily result in serious injury to the rider, as well as to pedestrians and other motorists. However, as a recent article indicates, there is also the concern that the electric bikes themselves pose a danger to riders.

According to a recent news report, the company Motivate, which is a subsidiary of the popular ride share company, Lyft, has recalled approximately 15% of its electric bikes. A spokesperson for the company explained that the recall was based on reports that riders who tapped the brakes experienced a stronger-than-anticipated force, causing riders to fall. In some cases, riders were sent over the handlebars of the bike. Interestingly, the manufacturer of the brakes has released a statement indicating that the problem was not with the braking components, raising the question that the problem may have to do with how the brakes were installed on the bikes.

Earlier this month, an Upper Marlboro man was fatally injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident when he collided with another vehicle that was in the process of making a U-turn. According to a local news report, the fatal crash occurred around 10 in the evening on northbound Route 301, in Waldorf.

Apparently, the motorcyclist was traveling on 301 northbound at a high rate of speed. As the motorcyclist approached Central Avenue, a pick-up truck that was heading southbound on 301 began to initiate a U-turn. As the truck was in the middle of the U-turn, the motorcycle collided with the passenger side of the pick-up truck. The force from the collision spun the pick-up truck 18 degrees.

The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders. The driver of the pick-up truck was injured and transported to the hospital. Police told reporters that they believe speed to have been a factor in the accident.

Earlier this month, a Maryland motorcyclist was killed after he intentionally laid his motorcycle down to avoid an imminent collision. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the crash occurred near the intersection of Abingdon Road and Windy Laurel Drive in Abingdon, shortly before noon. Weather conditions were clear.

Evidently, the motorcyclist was traveling eastbound on Abingdon Road when a westbound minivan attempted to make a left turn in front of the motorcycle. While there have not been any eyewitnesses that have come forward, after investigating the scene of the accident police believe that the motorcyclist laid down the motorcycle in an attempt to avoid a collision with the minivan. The motorcyclist was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center where he later died from the injuries he sustained in the accident.

Police urged all motorists to “pay attention,” explaining that motorists should be especially careful this time of year, when more motorcycles are on the road. The accident remains under investigation, and no criminal charges have been filed against the driver of the minivan.

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