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.

Although many residents are increasingly aware of the risks of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Maryland drunk driving accidents still occur with startling frequency. When an individual drives under the influence, they are more likely to make reckless decisions and harmful errors while driving—swerving into the other lane, running red lights, etc. These acts can cause significant damage or even death when they lead to Maryland motorcycle accidents. While there is of course a risk of accidents with any vehicles, motorcyclists are especially at risk for serious, life-threatening injuries due to the relative unprotection they have around their bodies compared to drivers in cars or trucks.

For example, just recently a motorcycle accident sent two to the hospital. According to a local news report from the second week of February, an intoxicated driver was driving northbound on the road when she veered into the southbound lane and collided head-on with a motorcyclist. There were two occupants on the motorcycle—the passenger and the driver. Following this shocking accident, both were seriously injured, and both had to be transported to a nearby hospital; one via helicopter and the other by ambulance. Their conditions are currently unknown, and the incident is still under investigation.

This tragic accident highlights two things. First, it’s an apt and unfortunate illustration of the risk Maryland motorcyclists face when they or another driver decides to go on the road under the influence. While individuals may think they are only taking a small risk for themselves, the reality is that driving intoxicated puts everyone else on the road at risk and could cause life-threatening injuries or even death. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are especially likely to be harmed due to someone else’s reckless actions.

Most drivers and motorcyclists make left turns every single time they drive, usually without giving them a second thought. Left turns are a common part of driving, but they can actually be incredibly dangerous for motorcyclists. Many Maryland motorcycle accidents occur when a car or another vehicle attempts to make a left turn but crashes into a motorcyclist that had the right-of-way. Because motorcycles do not offer the same structural protection that cars and other vehicles do, motorcyclists involved in these accidents are particularly susceptible to serious injuries or even death.

Just last week a tragic left turn motorcycle accident was reported by a local news station. The accident is said to have occurred around 12:50 PM one weekday afternoon. A 75-year-old woman driving a Nissan Versa sedan was traveling northbound on the road when she approached an intersection. At the intersection, she attempted to make a left turn. Unfortunately, a 17-year-old motorcyclist was traveling eastbound when the car turned in front of him, and although he tried to slow down, he was unable to avoid the collision. Officials responded to the scene of the crash and emergency responders later pronounced the motorcyclist dead, a tragic accident.

This tragedy is just one example of how dangerous left turn accidents can be for Maryland residents riding motorcycles. But what causes left turn accidents? Well, there can be many different causes and factors, which is one of the things that makes filing a personal injury lawsuit in the aftermath so difficult. It’s possible that alcohol may have played a role, with one or both drivers involved driving under the influence and making poor decisions on the road. Or, drivers could be distracted by their phone, or by a passenger in their car, causing them to not notice that the light was red, or that a motorcycle was entering the intersection. There’s also the possibility that a traffic light was malfunctioning, or that slippery weather conditions caused the crash.

Maryland motorcycle accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Even one small mistake while driving or another unfortunate occurrence can cause a major crash leading to severe bodily injuries. In addition to the bodily harm that one might face as a result, however, Maryland motorcycle accidents can cause financial strain, primarily through medical bills and lost wages. And in the aftermath of these accidents, it can be difficult to know what to do or how to move forward. But there are some key things Maryland motorcyclists who are injured in motorcycle accidents should do afterward, to protect their legal rights and get themselves on the path to recovery, both physically and financially.

Immediately after the crash, a motorcyclist should report the accident. Letting authorities know about the crash and speaking with a police officer about what happened can aid the official investigation of the crash and help an accident victim understand what exactly occurred and who else was involved.

Individuals should also immediately seek medical treatment. Sometimes, motorcyclists may not realize the extent of their injuries right away and may not immediately seek help. But this can be a mistake. Not only can prompt medical attention prevent injuries from getting worse, but not seeking it immediately may weaken an accident victim’s future civil case against the individual who caused the accident. It is also important to continually keep up with medical appointments and treatment and follow the doctor’s advice while recovering from the injuries.

A victim of a Maryland motorcycle accident may be dealing with a tremendous amount of stress in the aftermath of an accident. But accident victims have to keep in mind the time in which a claim must be filed to preserve their rights and their right to recover compensation. In Maryland, the time in which a claim must for filed (known as the statute of limitations) in a personal injury case is three years. A Maryland wrongful death claim also must be filed within three years.

The three-year period in an accident case generally begins to run when the crash occurs, but may begin later if the injury is not evident right away. A statute of limitations can be tolled, or extended, in some circumstances. For example, a victim may be so seriously injured that they lack the capacity to file a claim for some time. However, in general, statutes of limitations must be strictly followed. Failing to file a negligence claim within the prescribed statute of limitations will generally result in the claim being dismissed.

An experienced Maryland motorcycle accident attorney can help victims file a legal claim against all the defendants responsible for their injuries. In a Maryland negligence claim, a victim must show that a defendant was negligent by acting or failing to act in some way. That is, a plaintiff must establish that: the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty to exercise due care, the defendant failed to meet that duty, the plaintiff suffered damages, and the defendant’s act or failure to act caused the plaintiff’s damages. Plaintiffs in Maryland accident cases may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, wage losses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages that may be applicable in their cases.

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