Articles Posted in Fatal Bicycle Accidents

bicycle accidentEach accident is different, and when it comes to determining which party was responsible for causing a Maryland bicycle accident, courts consider a number of factors. Of course, accidents involving drunk driving, or other violations of the traffic law, make determining fault easier; however, even in these situations the accident victim may encounter a difficult time recovering financial compensation for their injuries.

The reason Maryland bicycle accident victims may have a difficult time is due to the state’s contributory negligence rule. Under Maryland law, anyone who is even the slightest bit at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries is precluded by law from recovering from any other party involved in the accident.

Most other states employ a much more victim-friendly approach, under which a partially at-fault accident victim can be awarded damages for their injuries, but the amount of damages awarded will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. Under Maryland law, however, even a bicycle accident victim who is determined to be just five percent at fault will be precluded from obtaining compensation for their injuries.

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bicyclistMost Maryland motorcycle accidents involve only one person on the motorcycle because, while motorcycles are designed to carry a single passenger, they are more commonly operated by the driver alone. However, each year, there are hundreds of motorcycle accidents in which there is a passenger on the bike who is injured in the accident. In single-vehicle accidents or accidents in which the motorcyclist was at fault, the accident victim may look to the driver of the motorcycle for compensation for their injuries.

A motorcycle passenger can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver based on the driver’s violation of the duty he owed to the passenger. All drivers owe a duty of care to those whom they share the road with, and this includes passengers. When a driver’s negligence causes an accident, they can be held liable for any injuries that were caused as a result.

In most of these cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be responsible for the accident victim’s injuries. Of course, dealing with an insurance company following a serious motorcycle accident can be difficult, especially when the insurance company denies the claim or refuses to engage in meaningful settlement negotiations. In these situations, a Maryland personal injury attorney can assist accident victims in obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.

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While many accidents are solely the fault of one party, some Maryland bicycle accidents are results of both parties having been negligent in some way. In most states, this would not necessarily present a major problem for the bicyclist because they would be able to file a claim against the driver even if the bicyclist shared fault for the accident. However, in Maryland, accident victims who are determined to be even the slightest bit at fault for the accident resulting in their injuries are completely precluded from recovering compensation for their injuries.

Legal News GavelIf this sounds harsh, that is because it is. In fact, most states employ a more relaxed analysis when determining which accident victims can pursue a claim of compensation after an accident, called the comparative fault model. Under a pure comparative fault analysis, an accident victim can bring a lawsuit against anyone they believe to be responsible for their injuries. If the jury determines that the plaintiff is also at fault, the jury will reduce the plaintiff’s total recovery amount by their percentage of fault.

Maryland, however, employs a contributory negligence model. As stated above, under a contributory negligence analysis, if the plaintiff is found to be at all responsible for the accident, the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed. This is even the case if the plaintiff is determined to be 1% at fault.

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No matter which types of vehicles are involved, Maryland hit-and-run accidents can be deadly. However, when a motorist strikes a bicyclist and then leaves the scene without making sure that the cyclist needs medical care, the chance of the accident resulting in serious injuries or death greatly increases.

Legal News GavelOf course, leaving the scene of a serious accident is not just shocking to the conscience, but it is also against the law. Under Maryland Transportation Code section 20-102, drivers involved in accidents that result in bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death are required to remain at the scene of the accident. This is regardless of who was at fault.

Additionally, any driver involved in an accident resulting in any bodily injury must also “render reasonable assistance” to anyone injured in the accident, and they must also provide their name, address, insurance information, and driver’s license. The penalty for failing to comply with these statutes can result in up to a $10,000 fine and 10 years’ imprisonment.

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Maryland bicycle accidents are a major concern across the state. Indeed, cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are constantly taking steps to make their roads more bike-friendly in hopes of reducing the number of serious and fatal Maryland bicycle accidents. There are many causes of bicycle accidents, but most commonly these accidents are caused by distracted drivers.

Legal News GavelEarlier this month, one man was killed and another woman seriously injured after they were struck by a pick-up truck while participating in a bike race. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the driver of the pick-up truck evidently lost control of the vehicle and ended up crossing into oncoming traffic and driving on the gravel median on the opposite side of the road.

As the driver realized he was outside his lane, he attempted to get back into his lane, overcorrected, and ended up striking two bicyclists. The bicyclists were participating in a race at the time and were among many other bicyclists on the road at the time.

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Probably anyone who knows how to ride a motorcycle remembers navigating their first set of railroad tracks. To be sure, even railroad tracks that are no longer used pose a potential threat to motorcyclists, who can lose traction and skid out over the smooth surface of the tracks unless they are crossed in a perpendicular direction. However, active railroad tracks present a much more serious danger to all motorists, including Maryland motorcyclists.

Legal News GavelWhile not necessarily one of the top causes of Maryland bicycle accidents, several bicyclists and motorcyclists are involved in accidents on or near railroad crossings each year. While most of these accidents do not involve speeding trains, the danger is still present, and motorcyclists should take precautions whenever crossing railroad tracks. This is especially because a motorcyclist may not be able to hear a train’s horn over the sound of the bike’s engine.

Of course, not all the burden of avoiding an accident rests with the motorcyclist. The railroad company is responsible for the maintenance of a track, and local government agencies are tasked with ensuring that railroad crossings are safely designed to reduce the risk of an accident. When a motorcycle accident occurs on or near a railroad track, anyone injured as a result of the accident should reach out to a dedicated Maryland motorcycle accident attorney to discuss their case.

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Given the increase in gas prices as well as the increase in environmental awareness, more and more people are eschewing gas-guzzling cars and hopping on their bikes to get to work. Riding a bike to work comes with a number of benefits, including saving money, getting exercise, and developing a closer connection with the community. However, biking also comes with its share of hazards, especially when biking in urban areas.

Legal News GavelEach year, there are over 800 Maryland bicycle accidents across the state, with over 650 of those accidents resulting in the bicyclist being injured. Unfortunately, the data also suggest that the number of bicycle accidents in Maryland seems to be increasing. While the most recent data suggests that bicycle fatalities are fairly low, this number is likely to increase as more people choose bicycles as a preferred method of commuting. Over 85% of those accidents occur in the metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

On top of the generally applicable traffic laws that apply in all situations, Maryland lawmakers have enacted several rules to protect bicyclists, including the following requirements:

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Most cyclists fairly believe that as long as they have insurance, they will be covered in the event of a Maryland bicycle accident. However, insurance contracts can be tricky, and insurance companies often try to interpret insurance contracts in their own favor, potentially limiting the amount of coverage provided to a motorist and at the same time limiting the insurance company’s overall risk.

Legal News GavelIn some cases, the insurance company has little to do but settle a case fairly. However, other cases present unique situations in which an insurance company’s clever argument may result in a decrease in the company’s obligations. A recent case illustrates one insurance company’s attempt to characterize the deaths of two bicyclists as a single “accident” under the terms of the policy.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in the case was the surviving wife of a man who was killed in a bicycle accident that was caused by a negligent driver. At the time of the accident, both the plaintiff and her husband were riding on the shoulder of the road. Weather conditions were clear. At some point, a driver came from behind at about 50 miles per hour and first struck the plaintiff’s husband. He was thrown about 165 feet from his bike.

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Drunk drivers pose a serious risk to everyone on the road; however, bicyclists are at an especially high risk of being seriously injured or killed if they are involved in a Maryland drunk driving accident. Not just are bicyclists more likely to be injured if they are struck by a drunk driver, but also, due to their slim profile, they are more likely to be overlooked by an intoxicated driver. Additionally, since most bicyclists ride near the side of the lane or on the road’s shoulder, a drunk driver could easily drift off the road and into a biker.

Legal News GavelWhile Maryland law permits the victims of drunk driving accidents to seek compensation for their injuries through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit, filing a case is by no means a guarantee. For example, the other driver’s insurance company may defend against the lawsuit if it believes that there may be a way to avoid paying out what may be a large sum of money. If an insurance company believes that the accident victim was partially at fault for the accident – even if the other driver was intoxicated – it may defend the case on behalf of the other driver.

In some cases, insurance companies will pretend to be on an accident victim’s side and present an offer to settle the case if the accident victim agrees not to sue. Accident victims should be wary of these offers, especially when they are made early in the process, since they are often low-ball offers designed to settle for as little money as possible. With the assistance of a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney, accident victims can ensure that they are treated fairly throughout the process and stand a good chance of recovering fully for their injuries.

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Bicyclists and motorcycles are the most vulnerable vehicles on the road. Between the lack of protection and the slim profile of bikes and motorcycles, riders who are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident often suffer serious injuries. While helmets can help reduce the chances of being seriously injured or killed in some cases, a helmet can only do so much to protect the victims of a Maryland bicycle accident.

Legal News GavelMost often, when a motorcyclist or bicyclist is killed in a traffic accident, family members are left behind not just with the grief of recently losing someone but also with many questions. Adding to the anxiety is the prospect of paying for potentially astronomical medical expenses and taking care of the final arrangements for the recently departed.

Maryland’s wrongful death law allows for surviving loved ones to seek compensation from an at-fault party responsible for the accident resulting in their loved one’s death. Most immediate family members are able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, including spouses, parents, and children. More distant family members may also be able to bring a Maryland wrongful death claim if the accident victim has no close family members.

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