A bicyclist who was injured in an October 2014 crash with a sport utility vehicle has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the SUV and may receive a damages award or settlement from the case, despite the fact that law enforcement officers declined to issue a citation after the crash or find that the driver of the SUV was at fault for the collision. Although bicycle and motorcycle accident victims can more easily prove their case when the other driver is cited after a crash, a law enforcement officer’s determination of fault is not absolute to the question of the other driver’s negligence.
According to a local news article discussing the recently filed lawsuit, the accident occurred when a bicyclist, who was traveling in a bike lane adjacent to the right shoulder of a city street, crashed into a sport utility vehicle that was making a right-hand turn into the bicycle’s path. The article notes that after the crash, the law enforcement officers who responded decided not to issue a citation to the driver of the SUV. The article suggests this decision was based on the statements given by witnesses that the bicyclist was traveling excessively fast in the bike lane, and the driver of the SUV could not have known that the fast-moving bicycle would crash into him, based on those facts. The article also notes that the SUV driver admitted to noticing the cyclist as he passed by him earlier, but no citation was issued.
The Effects of a Citation on an Accident Lawsuit
If a motorcyclist or bicyclist is injured or killed in a Maryland accident, their claim to recover damages may be easier if the other driver is given a citation for their role in the crash. A successful accident lawsuit requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Several of the elements of a victim’s negligence claim may overlap with those required for a law enforcement officer to issue a citation in the wake of an accident. Although a citation is not proof of negligence, and the defendant receiving the citation maintains his innocence until he admits guilt or it is proven at a criminal trial, the evidence that is collected by law enforcement in support of the criminal citation may also be used by the victim in a personal injury lawsuit. Since much of the evidence required to prove negligence is the same as what supports the citation, plaintiffs are at a definite advantage after accidents in which the defendant was cited for a traffic violation, or found to be “at fault” by law enforcement.
Making a Case for Negligence When No Citation Was Issued
Just as it is true that a traffic citation is not an automatic finding of negligence by a defendant, the lack of a citation does not mean that an accident victim will be unable to obtain compensation for their injuries. Law enforcement investigations are not always as thorough as they should be, and the standards for proving civil negligence are not completely identical to those required for a criminal conviction. Since accident victims are at an immediate disadvantage when no citations are issued after an accident, it is of utmost importance for an independent investigation to be performed after such an accident.
Investigations performed in anticipation of a Maryland motorcycle accident lawsuit can look for specific evidence that the other driver violated their duty of care to a motorcyclist, and they may find evidence sufficient to support a civil claim for damages, whether a criminal citation should have been issued or not. Maryland motorcycle accident victims should consult with a qualified Maryland personal injury attorney to have an independent investigation performed as quickly as possible after an accident occurs.
Finding a Qualified Maryland Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a motorcycle or bicycle accident with another vehicle, the skilled Maryland and Washington, D.C. bicycle accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can have an investigation performed for evidence that the other party was negligent, whether a citation was issued after the crash or not. Our qualified personal injury and accident lawyers have the experience that is required to defend the rights of motorcyclists involved in accidents in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent clients in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the entire Washington, D.C. region in motorcycle accident and other injury cases. Call us toll-free at 1-800-654-1949 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Man Critically Injured in Motorcycle Accident; Reconstruction Team Trying to Discover Cause, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 20, 2016.
Alcohol Is a Major Factor in Many Fatal Maryland Motorcycle Accidents, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 15, 2016.