Articles Posted in Fatal Bicycle Accidents

It is vital to take basic steps to protect yourself when you are driving or riding in a car or on a bike. One simple thing you can do every time you drive is to ensure that you are wearing your seatbelt, especially when you’re in the front of the car. Seatbelts significantly decrease the risk of fetal injuries in the event of a crash, while forgoing a seatbelt while in a car can increase your risk of death in a car accident by as high as 45%. Thousands of drivers in Maryland experience severe or fatal accidents annually due to their failure to wear seatbelts. Additionally, it is vital to wear a helmet if you are riding a motorcycle or bike. The small silhouette of these smaller vehicles makes them much more likely to be hit by others on the road, especially large automobiles such as buses.

How Many People Are Injured in Acidnets Involving Busses and Large Vehicles?

Automobile accidents involving large vehicles, such as buses, are extremely dangerous. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 4,100 people were killed in large vehicle crashes last year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has found that there were more than 500,000 crashes nationwide involving large vehicles, with approximately 107,000 resulting in injuries. Buses are much larger than standard passenger vehicles, averaging 20 to 30 times bigger, creating massive crashes when they impact other vehicles. The difference in the size of the vehicles can prevent bus drivers from seeing smaller cars and bikes, while also resulting in more severe impact when crashes do occur. Most deaths in large vehicle crashes are from occupants of passenger vehicles. Of those killed in such accidents, roughly 82% are people in smaller vehicles. A recent article discussed a fatal crash involving a bus and a bicycle rider.

According to the news article, the accident occurred early in the morning on Tuesday, December 5, around 7:00 am. The 15-year-old boy was hit and killed by a school bus early in the morning while trying to cross the street on a bicycle, according to the Lakeland Police Department. Emergency personnel responded to the scene, including Polk County Fire Rescue and the Lakeland Fire Department. Unfortunately, the teen was later pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health. According to the Lakeland Police Chief, the teen was apparently riding his bike to school when the crash happened. It seems as though he was trying to move from the highway’s turning lane into the inside lane where the bus was traveling westbound when the collision occurred.

In our line of work, we often see firsthand how the carelessness of others can create devastating consequences for a loved one’s family and friends. Just one misstep can take away an innocent person’s life, and while there is no amount of money that can make up for the resulting loss, it is important for beneficiaries to explore their options for potential compensation after a collision.

Senseless accidents happen much too frequently, especially in more urban and populated areas. Recently, a bicyclist in Michigan was riding at around 10:30 one evening when a car crashed into him from behind. According to reports and to witnesses, the vehicle hit the bicyclist and dragged him for several blocks. The bicyclist was then left lying on the road with significant injuries. First responders rushed to the scene, and the victim was taken to the hospital. The driver quickly left the scene of the crime.

Unfortunately, the bicyclist later died from his injuries. Police were later able to locate the vehicle that had caused the accident and took the driver into custody. He was charged with driving while intoxicated causing death as well as hit and run causing death.

Drivers of cars share the roads with not only the drivers of other motor vehicles but also with bicyclists and pedestrians. In today’s world, it is common to see increased use of bicycles as a way to commute. Unsurprisingly, when an accident occurs between a motor vehicle and a bike, it is very likely the cyclist will be the person who is injured in such a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicyclist deaths are highest during the summer months between June and September. In addition, NHTSA reports that nearly three-quarters of all bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas and that failing to yield the right of way is the highest factor in fatal crashes involving bicycles, followed by bicyclists not being visible.

According to a recent news article, a 42-year-old driver was recently criminally charged in a deadly bike accident in Michigan that injured three and killed two bicyclists who were participating in the Make a Wish Bicycle Tour. The Tour was a three-day endurance ride that covered most of the state of Michigan. The 42-year-old driver was heading north when a UPS truck in front of her began to slow down. According to officials, the accident took place on a straight roadway where there were no vision obstructions. The driver moved into the other lane in an attempt to try and go around the UPS truck and ran into a group of bicyclists. The driver has been charged with two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, one count of operating while intoxicated, and a second offense notice operating while intoxicated.

What Are Drivers' Responsibilities to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident?

All road users should take steps to keep themselves and others safe. There are certain safety precautions that cyclists should take, and certain precautions that drivers of motor vehicles should take in order to make the roads a safer place for everyone. Cyclists should be sure to always begin their bike ride by putting on a helmet that properly fits so that they can have some protection. Wearing bright clothing, reflective gear, and having reflectors on your bike can be other safety precautions taken by bicyclists. Drivers of cars share the road with cyclists and should be sure to yield to bicyclists. When turning right on red, drivers should look to the right and behind them to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching, in addition to stopping completely and looking left-right-left, and behind before making the right turn on red. Drivers should be sure to give cyclists room. Finally, under no circumstances should drivers get behind the wheel while intoxicated, and if someone is planning to drink, they should be sure to arrange alternate transportation that does not include them behind the wheel.

Two-wheeled vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles are more likely to be involved in accidents with other vehicles. In the event that a two-wheeled vehicle is involved in a crash, the likelihood that the crash results in serious injury or death is also increased. Motorcycle and bicycle riders should use extreme caution when operating their vehicles on public roadways, as the consequences of someone else’s negligence can be catastrophic. A recently published local news report discusses a fatal collision between a bicyclist and a motor vehicle that occurred in February 2022 in Delaware.

According to the recently published news report, the accident occurred when a 30-year-old Maryland man was cycling in the middle of a small road in Newark, DE. The driver of a motor vehicle approached the bicyclist from behind and attempted to pass on the left by entering into the other lane. Before the vehicle was able to perform the pass, the bicyclist veered to the left and was ultimately struck by the motor vehicle and ejected from his bicycle. Emergency crews were called to the scene after the accident, but the bicyclist’s injuries were too severe to be treated and he succumbed to his injuries in the crash. The article states that the driver of the motor vehicle was not injured in the crash, and does not mention that any charges have been filed against the motorist.

When cars, trucks and other motor vehicles approach a bicycle or other two-wheeled vehicle that is taking up a full lane, the driver of the motor vehicle must allow the smaller vehicle the full use of the lane. Motor vehicle drivers still can attempt to pass a smaller vehicle, but only if traffic laws and conditions allow it to be done safely. A bicyclist who is traveling in the middle of a roadway that is divided by two yellow lines must be allowed to take up the whole lane, and a passing attempt would be illegal. If a driver attempts to pass another vehicle illegally and it results in an accident, the driver of the larger vehicle may be held accountable with criminal charges or in a civil lawsuit for their failure to yield the right of way to the smaller vehicle.

Although cold temperatures mean fewer pedestrians and bikers are out and about this time of year, drivers should still remain vigilant when traveling. Drivers, however, should not entirely dismiss the possibility of pedestrians or cyclists just because of colder weather. In fact, these cooler months call for more vigilance from both pedestrians and drivers alike. Winter weather often means shorter days, lower visibility, and poorer weather conditions—all of which can contribute to increasing the possibility that an accident takes place.

According to a recent news report, a 13-year-old boy died after a truck hit him while he was on his bicycle. Local authorities reported that around 7pm, the driver of the truck was driving east past an intersection when the front of his truck crashed into the back of the child’s bicycle. According to witness reports, when the accident took place, the driver was trying to avoid the child’s friend, who was also riding a bicycle, but failed to do so and struck the 13-year-old boy instead. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, they noted that it was likely the crash was an accident, given low visibility and the limited shoulder along the road. The accident remains under investigation.

How Many Fatal Bicycle Accidents Are There Each Year?

Based on national statistics, the number of preventable deaths from bicycle transportation incidents has increased significantly over the last few years. In the last decade, rates of bicycle deaths from motor accidents increased 37 percent, from 793 deaths in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019. Steady increases have been taking place every year also, with the highest number of deaths taking place annually in warmer months when more bikers and pedestrians are out and about.

Earlier this month, the criminal case associated with a December 2020 fatal bicycle accident we wrote about on this blog came to a close when the defendant was sentenced to 40 years in prison. While the crash and case did not occur in Maryland, the experiences of the loved one and the subsequent legal consequences for the defendant are applicable to the Maryland bicycle crashes that happen almost every day.

According to the New York Times, the original accident occurred on the morning of December 10 when the 45-year-old man driving a truck under the influence of methamphetamine crashed into a group of cyclists. The cyclists were part of a larger group taking part in an annual 130-mile ride. Five of them died on the highway as a result of the crash, and several others were injured. The deceased were identified as a 39-year-old woman and four men, aged 41, 48, 57, and 57. The driver was initially charged with five counts of driving under the influence resulting in death, and other assorted charges, which could have resulted in a sentence of more than 100 years in prison. But the defendant reached a deal with prosecutors and pled guilty to two counts of driving under the influence resulting in death instead.

The New York Times reported on the significant pain and grief the relatives of the victims experienced as a result of losing their loved ones. For example, one widow told the judge in the case that she still kept her husband’s ashes in an urn on a dresser next to her bed and his toothbrush and razor on the bathroom sink, unable to handle the pain of removing any of it. Other relatives are similarly dealing with the grief, and surviving cyclists are having to work through the trauma of the experience—and seeing their friends killed—in addition to recovering physically from their injuries. Because of the sheer amount of pain this accident caused, many individuals may wonder if the criminal sentence actually does anything to help the families recover from this devastating loss.

Last Thursday, a group of 20 bicyclists engaged in an annual tradition involving riding the 130-mile stretch between Henderson, Nevada and Nipton, California, and back. But tragically, this tradition was interrupted when a box truck slammed into the group of cyclists who were riding on the shoulder of U.S. 95. In total, five cyclists were fatally wounded, and another four were seriously injured—including one who was initially in critical condition but is now fortunately stable. This accident sheds light on the sobering reality of Maryland bicycle accidents.

According to the New York Times, investigators are unsure how or why the truck hit the cyclists. However, through a preliminary investigation, they know that the driver left his lane, collided with the group of cyclists from behind, and then hit another car that was driving alongside the cyclists. The driver also collided with another group of cyclists that were riding in front of the Subaru. At this point, nothing indicates that the driver was impaired, and Highway Patrol reported that the driver stayed at the scene of the accident and is being cooperative.

Even as the investigation continues, the tragedy of the accident is almost insurmountable. One cyclist, who organized the ride and was cycling ahead of his friends when the crash occurred, said in a phone interview that he could immediately tell three of his fellow cyclists were killed instantly. He explained that he had to watch two die in front of him. He also reported that, although he was a police officer in the area for 22 years, he had never responded to a crash this bad.

In the United States, there are two main types of court cases: criminal and civil. Criminal cases are brought by the government against defendants who have allegedly committed a crime. If someone commits (or is suspected of committing) a bank robbery, for example, they might be arrested and charged with robbery, and if they are found guilty, they may be sentenced to jail. Civil cases, on the other hand, are when someone sues someone else. Like criminal cases, civil cases may or may not go to trial, but a civil defendant cannot be sentenced to jail. Instead, they are typically ordered to pay a certain amount of money to the plaintiff who brought the suit. While this difference between the types of cases is relatively clear, it can become complicated in Maryland bicycle accidents, when one accident could potentially lead to both types of cases.

For example, take a bicycle accident that occurred last month. According to a local news report, the crash happened on a Friday morning, when a bicyclist was riding northbound on the edge of the road and was struck by a vehicle. Tragically, the bicyclist, a 35-year-old man, suffered severe injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. A few days later, state police arrested a 27-year-old man thought to have been the vehicle’s driver. He was booked with failure to report a crash, hit-and-run driving, switching his license plate, driving under suspension, obstruction of justice, and negligent homicide. While it is too soon to know for sure, state prosecutors may choose to pursue a criminal case against him, and the defendant could be facing jail time and/or fines.

Do Criminal Charges Affect a Personal Injury Case?

However, regardless of whether there is a criminal case, there may also be a civil case against the same defendant, resulting from the same accident. The existence of one type of case already arising from this crash does not preclude the other type of case. The victim’s family, in this instance, could potentially also bring a wrongful death claim against the defendant. In this case, if they were successful, the result would be focused not on punishing the defendant for his wrongs, but rather on making the plaintiffs whole. Thus, the typical damages in wrongful death cases are monetary compensation to cover pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and other direct costs resulting from the accident. Families may also obtain compensation for their non-economic, or emotional, damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Losing a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle or bicycle accident is undeniably tragic. While many cyclists go out every day and return home safe and sound, the sad reality is that one careless mistake on the road—either by the cyclist or someone else—can lead to an immense tragedy. For example, a father and his daughter were recently killed while riding their bicycle home, according to a recent news report. The 61-year-old man had picked up his 13-year-old daughter from a friend’s house, and they were riding back home with the girl on the handlebars of the bike. As they were crossing a road, they were struck by a Dodge Dart and thrown from the bicycle. Both died from their injuries.

This case illustrates how quickly multiple lives can change when an accident occurs. While riding a bicycle or motorcycle is a popular form of transportation, it can also be dangerous—those riding may be more prone to death or serious injuries when accidents occur, because they lack the protection of a car’s exterior and are more likely to be thrown onto the road.

When tragic accidents such as the one described above occur and result in a fatality, Maryland law allows the family of the deceased to file a specific type of civil lawsuit called a wrongful death suit. A wrongful death suit seeks damages from the defendant who caused or contributed to the wrongful death of the deceased. In this case, the wrongful death suit would likely be filed against the driver of the Dodge Dart. These suits generally must prove that the defendant was negligent and breached the standard duty of care that a reasonably careful person would adhere to, thus causing the accident. In proving a case, plaintiffs may rely on evidence that the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign, ran a red light, drove while somehow distracted by their phone, or did something else careless that caused the crash.

Last month, tragedy struck in Maryland as a 77-year-old cyclist died after crashing into a turning Jeep in Severna Park. According to a local news report covering the incident, the cyclist was riding east on Shore Road when the driver of the Jeep, a 47-year-old man, tried to turn right into his driveway. The cyclist was riding behind the Jeep and smashed into the side of it, causing severe injuries. At the scene of the crash, paramedics took the victim to Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and he was brought to the Shock Trauma Center. Unfortunately, he died shortly after. This incident sheds light on the risks bicyclists and motorcyclists face in Maryland.

Tragic incidents like this are unfortunately not all that uncommon in Maryland. Every year in Maryland, an average of 816 bicycle crashes occur per year, 80 percent of which result in injury or death. Motorcycle accidents are also far too common, with an average of 276 individuals seriously injured and 70 individuals killed in these accidents every year. One of the reasons these accidents are so concerning and damaging is because of the lack of protection around a cyclist’s body. Unlike those driving in cars or trucks, who may be protected from direct impact with another vehicle or the road, cyclists have no barrier between their bodies and the road or other vehicles. For this reason, a crash involving a bicycle or motorcycle may end up being more serious and more deadly than a crash between two cars.

Those driving bicycles and motorcycles should be sure to take precautionary steps and be as safe as possible on the road. All cyclists should wear protective gear such as helmets, which can be the difference between life and death when a crash occurs. Additionally, cyclists (as well as all drivers, regardless of the vehicle) should always drive while sober and avoid intoxicated driving, which increases the chance for injury. Lastly, cyclists should avoid swerving in and out between lanes of traffic and cars and trucks on the road. Doing so increases the chances that they may be hit while a car merges or switches lanes. Those driving cars and trucks can also do their part to reduce cyclist accidents as well. Staying vigilant and attentive while driving, to ensure that they are aware of all others on the road, can go a long way in preventing accidents and saving lives.

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