Recently, two individuals riding a motorcycle were seriously injured when they collided with a pickup truck making a left turn, leading to the tragic death of the 27-year-old passenger. According to a local news report covering the incident, the crash occurred at around 9:30 in the evening, and the driver of the motorcycle, who survived, had to be taken to the hospital for their injuries. In addition to being tragic, this accident highlights one of the major risks posed to Maryland motorcyclists: left-turn accidents.

Left-turn accidents can be dangerous for anyone, including those in cars, trucks, and pedestrians. However, motorcyclists are particularly at risk of significant injury and death when these accidents occur because their bodies are relatively unprotected from the impact with other vehicles or the road, even if wearing a helmet. A left-turn accident with a motorcyclist can lead to life-altering injuries, including broken bones, spinal injuries, brain injuries, skull fractures, and more. Unfortunately, this type of accident is also one of the most common types of motorcycle accidents, and those on the road should take extra precautions to avoid them.

There are a number of reasons that these crashes may occur. One of the major reasons is visibility. Because motorcycles are significantly smaller than cars and trucks, it may be difficult for other motorists to see them, and they may not realize the risk when they decide to make a left turn. Distracted driving also increases the risk for these accidents—if a driver is texting, eating, talking on a cell-phone, or even just distracted by a flashy billboard or something he is driving by, he may not notice a motorcycle and may make left turns without stopping to ensure the coast is clear.

Victims of Maryland motorcycle or scooter accidents are legally entitled to file a civil negligence claim against the driver responsible. These claims, if successful, can provide injured motorcyclists with financial compensation for the injuries they suffered, including for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and even burial and funeral costs. In order to do so, however, plaintiffs must be able to identify and find the individual responsible. This may be harder in hit-and-run accidents, where the at-fault driver leaves the scene of the accident before providing identifying information or helping those who were injured.

For example, a man in Texas was recently killed in a hit and run accident while riding a scooter with a passenger. According to a local news report covering the accident, the collision occurred at around 8 p.m., with an SUV hitting the scooter and then driving off. When authorities responded to the accident, they took both the driver of the scooter and his passenger to the hospital, where the driver, unfortunately, passed away.

This incident illustrates the devastation that can occur with hit and run accidents; when an accident occurs and results in bodily injury, Maryland law requires that all drivers involved stop as close to the scene as possible and render reasonable assistance to any injured party. This means they may need to call an ambulance, and they are also required to provide their name and information to the others involved. If the others involved are unconscious or otherwise unable to meaningfully receive the information, the information must be provided to the police. Even if the car is parked and the owner is not around, the individual who hits it must leave a written note with their information. This law protects accident victims by (1) ensuring that, if they are injured, someone is able to call medical assistance for them and (2) ensuring that they have the information needed to file a civil negligence suit if appropriate.

States have different laws concerning the effect of the liability of the plaintiff on their ability to recover. Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, juries in Maryland motorcycle accident cases may consider the fault of the plaintiff along with the fault of the defendants. If the jury considers the plaintiff’s fault and finds the plaintiff is even partially at fault for their injuries, the plaintiff cannot recover from the defendant(s). However, contributory negligence is not automatically considered in every Maryland jury trial. In Maryland, a court is required to give the jury an instruction on contributory negligence only if the evidence supports such an instruction. That is, there must be evidence to suggest that the plaintiff was negligent in order to warrant such an instruction.

Critics say that the consequences of the contributory negligence doctrine can be extremely harsh for plaintiffs, and most states have adopted a different approach. Many states follow the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under that doctrine, a plaintiff generally can still recover compensation even if they are still found to be at fault. In some states, a plaintiff is limited as long as the plaintiff is found to be 50% or less at fault.

In a recent opinion, one court considered the impact of a jury’s decision finding that the defendant was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries in a comparative fault jurisdiction. There, the plaintiff was a passenger on a motorcycle when the motorcycle got into a crash with a tractor. The plaintiff filed a claim against the motorcycle driver and the farmer that was driving the tractor.

Electric scooters have popped up in cities across the U.S. over the past few years. Several electric scooter rental companies operate in Maryland. However, concerns and confusion over electric scooter laws, insurance policies, and liability have also been flagged. These issues may affect those who have been injured in Maryland scooter accidents in the state.

A Consumer Reports survey found that electric scooter riders were confused about whether to ride e-scooters on streets or on sidewalks, and 27 percent were not sure of the traffic laws they should follow. Although generally riders are supposed to ride in the street, many streets are not built to accommodate them, and it can be dangerous. There is also a question of whether scooters are covered under the insurance policies of the rider and/or the injured person. Electric scooters typically are not covered under auto insurance policies, though they may be able to be added to auto policies or other insurance policies. Maryland enacted MD HB748 in April 2019, establishing that a low-speed electric scooter is considered equivalent to a bicycle under the Maryland Vehicle Law. The scooter must meet the state’s definition, including only being capable of operating at a speed of up to 20 miles per hour.

Severe Eye Injuries Seen in E-Scooter Emergency Rooms Visits

A small study from the University of California San Diego reviewed instances of facial injuries caused by electronic scooter accidents over the course of a year. According to one news source, the rates of hospitalization and surgery were high among such cases. The researchers involved in the study were surprised by “both the severity and incidence of the injuries.” After an e-scooter accident, over 90% of the patients had facial fractures, and 24% needed surgery. About 75% of the patients required to be hospitalized. About 20% had intracranial hemorrhage, or bleeding beneath the skull. Injuries included eyelid lacerations and retinal hemorrhage. None of the patients had been wearing helmets.

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While it is awful anytime someone is involved and injured in a Maryland car crash, it is even more tragic when someone is killed as a result of a preventable accident. Unfortunately, however, those riding bicycles and motorcycles are generally more susceptible to serious injuries and death because they are less protected than those in cars and trucks which provide a buffer between other vehicles, roadside objects, and the road itself.

Recently, a 10-year-old bicyclist was tragically killed when she was struck by a car. According to a local news report covering the accident, the 5th grade girl was riding her bicycle to school when she fell off and was struck and killed by an oncoming SUV. The exact cause of the girl’s fall is still unknown, but authorities believe that the victim’s backpack may have caused her to lose her balance and fall.

The driver of the SUV that struck and killed the child is not expected to face any criminal charges. However, just because criminal charges are not filed does not mean that they will not end up in court. In situations like this, Maryland law allows the victim’s family to file a civil lawsuit against the driver. If it is found that the driver was negligent or somehow at fault for the accident—by texting while driving, speeding, or unreasonably failing to apply their brakes, for example—the family may be able to recover for their pain and suffering, as well as funeral and burial costs and any medical expenses.

In 2018, U.S. electric scooter riders took 38.5 million trips on shared scooters, according to the National Association of City Transportation officials. As electric scooters become more prevalent in cities in Maryland and across the country, accidents involving electric scooters are also becoming more common. Riders can be injured, and can also hurt others while riding the scooters. In the event of an injury or even a death in a Maryland electric scooter accident, more people are questioning whether electric scooters are covered under their insurance policies.

Electric scooters rental companies usually place liability on riders in their rental agreements or carve out coverage for specific instances. Generally, electric scooters are not covered under an auto insurance policy. Electric scooters also are not generally covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Some insurance policies may allow an insured to add coverage for an electric scooter onto their auto, homeowner’s, or renter’s insurance policy.

At Least 29 Killed in Electric Scooter Accidents Since 2018

Drunk drivers can face cases both in criminal court and in civil proceedings. Maryland motorcycle accident victims injured by drunk drivers may be able to use evidence from a criminal or traffic case in a subsequent civil suit. Under Maryland law, a guilty plea to a traffic citation generally can be admitted in a later civil trial. Maryland courts have held that guilty pleas to criminal offenses and traffic citations usually are admissible in a subsequent civil case. It is not conclusive evidence, however, and proof of a guilty plea can be rebutted or explained by the offender during the following civil case.

However, Maryland courts have drawn a distinction between guilty pleas in court and the payment of fines outside of court. Maryland courts consider a person’s express acknowledgment that a person was guilty of an offense in court to be more significant that paying a fine in place of going to court.

Courts have recognized that people may pay a fine in person or by mail in order to avoid going to court. In addition, courts have found that payment of a fine outside of court is not a guilty plea nor an express acknowledgment of guilt. Therefore, even though a person may have paid a traffic ticket it generally does not mean that that evidence can be used against them. Even if evidence is generally admissible, a court may still exclude it. Under Maryland Evidence Rule 5-403, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by its danger of prejudice. Judges have the discretion to exclude unfairly prejudicial evidence—or for a number of other reasons.

The duty to properly maintain a Maryland roadway generally rests with the city, county or state government office that owns and controls the roadway. State and local governments in Maryland are responsible for keeping their roads in good repair and in a reasonably safe condition for travel by Maryland motorcycle riders as well as others.

The government entity tasked with maintaining a roadway may fail to do so, causing the roadway to be unsafe for drivers and pedestrians. In these circumstances, an injured person can sue the government for the government’s failure to maintain roads in safe condition. In claims against local governments in Maryland, the government is generally immune from tort liability when engaging in functions of a “governmental” nature, but not when engaged in functions of a “proprietary” or “private” nature.

Maryland courts have long held that local municipalities are not immune from lawsuits arising out of the maintenance of public streets and highways, and that they have a duty to maintain them in a reasonably safe condition. Local governments may be held liable for injuries caused by a dangerous condition in the road caused by the government’s negligence. In claims against the state government, under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) the state expressly waives immunity in some circumstances. One such circumstance is in an action for damages caused by a defective, unsafe, or dangerous condition of a street, sidewalk, alley, or highway controlled and owned by the State, if constructive or actual notice of the condition existed.

A tragic multi-vehicle accident occurred in Chesapeake, Virginia last week, resulting in the unfortunate death of a motorcyclist. According to a local news report covering the accident, the responsible driver was in a red pickup truck when they ran a red light around 12:30 pm one afternoon, causing them to hit the motorcyclist and five other vehicles. The motorcyclist, a 56-year-old man, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene, and three other victims were sent to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.

While such accidents and fatalities are always tragic, they, unfortunately, happen far too often, and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to their effects. Because motorcyclists do not have the protection that a car provides between them and other vehicles or the road, they are more likely to be severely injured by negligent or reckless drivers when they run red lights or engage in other dangerous behaviors.

In such incidents, it is always possible that local law enforcement will investigate and file criminal charges. In the tragic incident described above, law enforcement charged the at-fault driver with involuntary manslaughter and possession of cocaine. These charges, while they may help the public feel safer on the roads, do very little to compensate the victims and their families who may be suffering psychologically and financially.

Maryland motorcyclists might be surprised to learn that one of the most fatal traffic situations is one they are in regularly: left turns. Turning left while driving or riding a motorcycle is typically unavoidable for most people because left turns are commonly necessary to get to places they regularly visit, such as work, the grocery store, or a family member’s house. Unfortunately, however, these turns can be quite dangerous, especially for motorcyclists because the drivers of other vehicles often have a difficult time accurately assessing the speed at which an oncoming motorcycle is traveling.

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association, turning left is considered a “leading critical pre-crash event.” In fact, 22.2 percent of all crashes involve someone turning left, as do approximately 61 percent of crashes that take place while someone is turning or crossing an intersection. Additionally, CNN recently reported that left turns are three times more likely to kill pedestrians than right turns are. Because of these dangers, some commercial drivers, such as those who drive UPS trucks, avoid left turns as much as they can.

Left turns are especially dangerous for motorcyclists who are largely exposed on the road and do not have a large vehicle surrounding them to absorb the shock or force of an impact. For example, take a recent crash that occurred in Gulfport, Mississippi. According to a local news report covering the incident, a 35-year-old man was driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle when he tragically struck a pick-up truck that was turning left. Due to the force of impact, and the fact that the motorcyclists’ body was largely unprotected from the crash, the motorcyclist was killed and pronounced dead on the scene.

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