Articles Posted in Failure-to-Yield Motorcycle Accidents

When it comes to determining who was at fault in a Maryland motorcycle accident, the task is not always a simple one. While some motorcycle accidents involve only two vehicles and what happened in the moments leading up to the collision can be readily determined by surveying the scene, other accidents present a more complex scenario.

Law enforcement gets the first crack at investigating an accident. For the most part, law enforcement officials are concerned with determining who was at fault and whether that party’s conduct that gave rise to the accident constituted criminal behavior. And while a law enforcement investigation is important in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit filed by the injured party, it may not be sufficient in some cases.

Law enforcement investigators can also make mistakes, or may change their opinion of what caused the accident as new information comes in. For example, investigators changed their theory of how an accident occurred while investigating a recent motorcycle accident. According to a local news report, a motorcyclist was killed when he struck a turning semi-truck. A semi-truck cut in front of the motorcyclist, and the motorcyclist was unable to avoid the collision. The motorcyclist struck the side of the semi-truck, causing the driver to be ejected from the bike. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

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As spring approaches, and the weather starts to get warmer, more and more Marylanders are going to start parking the car in the garage and instead opt to get around on a motorcycle. Using a motorcycle as a primary means of transportation has a number of benefits; however, one of those benefits is not safety. Indeed, each year, there are hundreds of Maryland motorcycle accidents, many of these resulting in serious injuries or death.

It’s a known fact that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. However, only so much of that danger is within a motorcyclist’s control. While it is estimated that approximately half of all motorcycle accidents involve only the motorcycle, of those accidents involving two or more vehicles, most are caused by another driver’s negligence.

Establishing liability after a Maryland motorcycle accident can be difficult, depending on the specific facts of the case. One of the primary difficulties motorcycle accident victims face is the doctrine of contributory fault. Under the doctrine of contributory fault, an accident victim cannot legally recover compensation for their injuries from any other party if the accident victim is determined to have shared responsibility in causing the accident. Thus, it is very important that motorcycle accident victims reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss their case. An experienced attorney can help accident victims present a compelling case for compensation, reducing the chance that a defendant is able to shift a small portion of fault onto the victim, which would essentially destroy their case.

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While all ages of drivers are capable of negligent driving, young drivers in particular present an especially high risk for Maryland motorcyclists. Indeed, it has long been understood that young drivers are responsible for the most Maryland motorcycle accidents when compared to other age groups. Some statistics have found that one in five teen motorists are involved in a collision of some sort each year.

Young drivers present such a high risk for a number of reasons. Of course, it goes without saying that young drivers have less experience driving. However, that factor alone does not totally account for the increased rate of accidents because new drivers who obtain a driver’s license later in life do not present as high a risk. Teens, as a group, are more likely to engage in several other risky behaviors while driving, including:

  • Driving while talking on a cell phone;
  • Texting while driving;
  • Talking to passengers in the rear seats;
  • Speeding;
  • Driving aggressively; and
  • Using poor judgment.

Can Parents Be Held Responsible for a Minor’s Accident?

In Maryland, a parent can usually only be held responsible for an accident caused by their minor child if the accident involves a crime. If there is no crime committed, it is likely that the parents of the minor will not be financially liable. However, to the extent that a child is on the parent’s insurance policy, the insurance company will be on the hook for the accident.

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All drivers should be aware of Maryland traffic laws by virtue of having obtained a Maryland driver’s license. Most drivers can rely on their gut instinct when determining who has the right-of-way in a traffic situation, since the traffic laws have become ingrained in our minds through years of driving. However, there are some situations in which determining who has the right-of-way is not as easily determined.

One situation in which it is not always clear which person has the right-of-way is left-turn accidents. Of course, the general rule is that the vehicle turning left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle that is continuing straight. However, that is not always the case. For example, if the motorist who is continuing straight is traveling in excess of the speed limit, that driver can be said to have lost the right-of-way, potentially absolving the left-turning motorist of fault.

The idea behind the shifting right-of-way makes intuitive sense when thinking about the knowledge each driver possesses in the moments before an accident. For example, a driver waiting to make a left turn has no knowledge of how fast the oncoming vehicle is traveling and can only make a rough estimate judging by how fast the vehicle is approaching. In most cases, that motorist will reasonably assume that the oncoming motorist is traveling at the posted speed limit and will make the decision of when to turn accordingly.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a motorcycle accident case that was filed against a taxi-cab driver as well as the taxi-cab company. The case required the court decide whether the taxi-cab company could be held vicariously liable for the allegedly negligent actions of the taxi-cab driver. Finding that the jury was presented sufficient evidence to create an agency relationship between the driver and the company, the court determined that the company could be held vicariously liable.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability is a theory of liability where one party is held legally responsible for the negligent actions of another party. This type of liability is most commonly seen in cases involving a case against an employer for the negligent actions of an employee. However, the relationship between the parties need not be that of employer/employee for vicarious liability to apply; a party may also be held liable for the negligent actions of their agent.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when he was involved in a motorcycle accident with a taxi-cab driver who was operating a cab marked with the defendant’s logos. According to the facts as discussed in the appellate opinion, the taxi-cab driver made a left turn directly in front of the plaintiff, causing the vehicles to collide.

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One of the most common causes of serious or fatal motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle is that vehicle’s failure to yield to the motorcyclist. Whether it is because the motorist is unfamiliar with sharing the road with motorcyclists, fails to see the motorcyclist, or misjudges the speed at which a motorcycle is traveling, the root cause is the same:  negligence on the part of the motorist.

When a motorcyclist is injured in a motorcycle accident, the unfortunate reality is that people will often initially look for ways to blame the motorcyclist. For whatever reason, all motorcyclists get a bad reputation, although very few motorcyclists drive recklessly. In fact, less than half of all motorcycle accidents are caused by motorcyclist error. Regardless, from the police who investigate the accidents to the news media who report on them, it is all too common to see accidents prematurely labeled as the motorcyclist’s fault.

Motorcyclists who have been injured in a serious accident may be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries through a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Even if the police investigating the accident seemed biased and failed to issue a citation to the other motorist, a personal injury lawsuit may still be possible.

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A 19-year-old Connecticut woman was arrested last month after she collided with a man on a scooter while driving her car on a state highway near New London, Connecticut. The rider was ejected from his scooter, suffered serious injuries, and remains hospitalized in critical condition. According to a local news report, the driver of the car remained at the scene of the accident and appeared intoxicated when police and emergency officials arrived. Evidently, she was charged with DUI and released on a promise to appear. Although her current charges do not incorporate the serious injury that she caused to the motorcyclist, prosecutors may decide to press more serious charges, especially if new evidence is uncovered or the victim’s condition worsens.

Drunk Drivers Are a Danger to Everyone on the Road, Especially to Motorcyclists and Scooter Riders

Thousands of people are killed every year in alcohol-related road accidents. Although most drunk driving injuries are suffered by people in cars and trucks, motorcyclists are at a greater danger individually than people in other vehicles.

Any motorcycle or scooter enthusiast knows that other drivers sometimes fail to notice them or yield the right of way. Alcohol intoxication is described by the World Health Organization as causing symptoms that include loss of coordination, reduction in motor and visual abilities, delayed reaction time, and poor judgment. All of these effects of alcohol make the dangers motorcyclists face from cars even worse. A drunk driver with impaired judgment and delayed reaction time may decide not to check her mirrors before changing lanes or may drive at excessive speeds and without regard for others on the road. Motorcyclists and other two-wheeled vehicle riders must be vigilant to always look out for other drivers who are driving dangerously and may be drunk.

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Motorcycle accidents are a scary thought. With nothing to protect the rider except a helmet, a serious or fatal injury is often the result of an accident. While there are certainly many causes of serious or fatal motorcycle accidents, one of the most common causes is another motorist’s failure to see or failure to yield the right-of-way to a motorcyclist. In fact, by some estimates, these two causes combined account for almost half of all motorcycle accidents.

The general rule is that vehicles are required to yield to those vehicles with the right-of-way. While the situations giving rise to a potential failure-to-yield accident are countless, a few of the more common scenarios are:

  • Intersections with one or more stop signs;
  • Situations that require one vehicle to merge into another lane, such as a highway on-ramp or off-ramp;
  • Parking lots;
  • Pulling out of a driveway or shopping center exit;
  • Any time a vehicle makes a left turn in front of a motorcycle; and
  • Whenever there is a posted “Yield” sign.

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Earlier this month, an accident in Harmans, Maryland resulted in one Hanover man losing his life when the motorcycle on which he was riding was struck by a passenger vehicle. According to one local news report, the accident took place at around four in the afternoon near the intersection of Dorsey Road and Sandalwood Court.

Evidently, the motorcyclist was driving his 2011 Harley Davidson westbound on Dorsey Road when a minivan pulling out of a driveway slammed into the motorcycle. The driver was thrown from the bike and was found on the road by emergency responders, who immediately took him to Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore. Despite their best efforts, the man was pronounced dead a few days later. The driver of the minivan was not injured in the accident.

The motorcyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, and police have ruled out alcohol and speed as potential causes for the fatal accident. Police do believe, however, that the accident was caused by a failure of the minivan driver to yield to the motorcyclist as the minivan pulled out of the driveway into traffic. Police are still in the middle of their investigation and are working with the prosecutor’s office to determine if criminal charges are appropriate in the wake of the fatal accident.

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Earlier this month in Alexandria, Virginia, a motorcyclist was injured when he was struck by a car that was in the process of making a left turn. According to one local news source, the accident occurred at around 4:30 in the afternoon at the Church of Saint Clement on N. Quaker Lane.

Evidently, the motorcyclist was heading north when a car made a left turn and struck the motorcyclist. As the rider flew off the bike, the bike crashed through the window of a nearby daycare. There were 10 children and their teacher in the daycare at the time, and five of them suffered minor injuries that required they be taken to the hospital. The motorcyclist was also taken to the hospital and admitted in serious condition.

Police told reporters that they have been keeping an eye on that intersection for some time, since it is known as a dangerous area. In fact, they mentioned that drivers come down the hill and make the left turn at high speeds too often, putting other motorists at risk. The cause of this accident still remains under investigation. Police expect to have a result in the near future.

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