Articles Posted in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

Legal News GavelWhen 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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Each year, about 60 people are killed in Maryland motorcycle accidents. Improper lane changes, including passing another motorist where it is prohibited or unsafe to do so, account for a large number of these fatal accidents.

A motorist may make an improper lane change for a number of reasons. The most common types of improper lane changes are illegal passing and changing lanes without signaling. In each of these cases, other motorists are put in serious danger. While most of the time, those who make an improper lane change do not end up causing a serious accident, when an accident does occur, the motorist can be held liable for any resulting injuries.Legal News Gavel

Recovering compensation in a Maryland motorcycle accident lawsuit is much like any other personal injury lawsuit. However, motorcycle accident victims often encounter a difficulty that the drivers of other vehicles do not:  the stigma that is associated with riding a motorcycle. When people hear about a motorcycle accident, they often think “I wonder how fast the motorcyclist was going?” as though the default is that the motorcyclist was somehow at fault. Of course, that is not how the law views motorcycle accidents, and an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney can assist motorcycle accident victims in proving that they were a victim of another motorist’s negligence.

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When someone gets on the back of a motorcycle, the last thing they are expecting is that they are going to be injured or killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident. Indeed, the vast majority of motorcycle operators are responsible motorists, but not everyone appreciates the risks involved in operating a motorcycle, and some motorcyclists take unacceptable risks.

Legal News GavelA passenger who is injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident may have a claim for damages against several parties. If the accident was caused by another driver, that driver and their insurance company may be on the hook for any injuries sustained by the victim.

In single-vehicle motorcycle accidents, passengers may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the driver of the motorcycle and the driver’s insurance company. In the event that the at-fault party does not have adequate insurance coverage, the passenger may be able to also file a claim with their own insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision.

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Earlier this month, one woman was killed and another man seriously injured when they were cut off by a vehicle making a left turn in front of the motorcycle the two were riding. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, responding officers found one helmet at the scene that had been improperly secured by one of the victims.

Legal News GavelThis tragic case brings up an important issue that many defendants in Maryland motorcycle accident cases try to raise:  the fact that the victim was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. To be sure, all motorcyclists should wear a helmet to protect themselves when they are riding. And it is true that, in some cases, a helmet can prevent serious or fatal injuries. However, under Maryland law, evidence of helmet non-use is inadmissible in a personal injury trial.

If wearing a helmet is required by law in Maryland, why then is the fact that a motorcyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet inadmissible in a personal injury trial? The answer has to do with how liability is determined in Maryland personal injury lawsuits.

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When a motorist causes a Maryland motorcycle accident, they may face two types of liability:  criminal and civil. A criminal case is brought by the local prosecuting authority and is intended to punish an at-fault motorist for the conduct that caused the accident. Thus, when a motorist is found guilty of a criminal offense, they may be fined, placed on probation, or sentenced to a term of incarceration. While criminal cases following motorcycle accidents are appropriate in some cases, the focus of these cases is not to help the accident victim recover from their injuries.

Legal News GavelIf a motorcycle accident victim hopes to seek compensation for their injuries, they should file a civil Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Unlike criminal cases, the sole purpose of a civil lawsuit is to provide the victims of another person’s negligence with compensation for their injuries. This may include amounts for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and a decrease in the enjoyment of life, as well as for any pain and suffering the accident victim has endured as a result of the accident.

In some cases, a driver may face both civil and criminal liability for their role in causing an accident. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a civil case for damages is not contingent upon the filing of a criminal case against the same driver. Similarly, even if a motorist is found not to have been criminally liable for an accident, an accident victim may still be able to succeed in a civil case for damages because civil cases are held to a lower standard of proof than criminal cases.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving allegations that a local police department was liable for an accident that resulted from a high-speed chase that was initiated by police officers. The case is important for all potential Maryland motorcycle accident plaintiffs to understand because it illustrates the importance of ensuring that all procedural requirements are met when pursing a claim against a state or local government.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were riding a motorcycle on the highway when they were struck head-on by another motorist who was traveling the wrong way. One of the motorcyclists was killed in the accident, and the other was seriously injured. As it turns out, the other motorist was fleeing from police when he entered the highway going the wrong direction. As soon as the motorist got on the highway, police abandoned their pursuit.

The surviving motorcyclist believed she had a claim against the police department, arguing that it was responsible for the accident because the officers were negligent in initiating the pursuit. However, the plaintiff did not provide notice of the claim to the local government, as was required by law, but instead proceeded to file a personal injury claim with the court.

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Maryland offers thousands of miles of beautiful wooded roads, perfect for those looking to take a relaxing ride. However, anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on a motorcycle knows the anxiety that comes along with driving a motorcycle. No matter how confident a motorcyclist is in their own abilities, there is always the chance that another driver will cause an unavoidable accident.

Legal News GavelAs with other auto accidents, there are many causes of Maryland motorcycle accidents. However, many of the major causes of motorcycle accidents are different from the causes of car accidents. For example, one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is when a driver makes a lane change into a motorcyclist. While this does occur among cars and trucks, it is much less common because these vehicles have a much larger profile and are easier to spot. Another common danger motorcyclists face is a car door that suddenly opens directly into a motorcyclist’s path, leaving little to no time for reaction.

Of course, other causes, such as drunk driving and distracted driving, are constant threats regardless of which type of vehicle a motorist is operating. In fact, it is estimated that these two causes alone explain about half of all motorcycle accidents. Lawmakers have tried to reduce instances of drunk and distracted driving by criminalizing the conduct, but some motorists do not seem to get the point.

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Not all accidents are created equal. Indeed, Maryland law attaches criminal consequences only to some types of accidents, such as Maryland DUI accidents and hit-and-run accidents. Other types of accidents, while not necessarily excusable, will not result in criminal charges, even if someone is found to have been at fault. This shows that, in the eyes of the law, there are various levels of culpability depending on the type of accident involved.

Legal News GavelHit-and-run accidents are among the most strictly punished types of accidents, and for good reason. When someone flees the scene of an accident, they are not only attempting to evade financial and potentially legal responsibility for their actions, but they are also putting people’s lives in jeopardy by failing to get accident victims the help they desperately need.

As noted above, Maryland hit-and-run accidents can be punished criminally by the local prosecutor’s office. However, the victims of a Maryland hit-and-run accident can also pursue a civil claim for financial compensation from the at-fault party once they are located. Hit-and-run lawsuits can, although not always, present unique legal issues, especially when the identity of the driver is at issue. Thus, it is important for anyone considering a Maryland hit-and-run lawsuit to speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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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.

Legal News GavelIt’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 many Maryland motorcycle accidents are clearly the fault of one party or another, other accidents present more a complex situation. For example, if both of the drivers involved committed a traffic violation, it may be difficult to determine which party should be held responsible. Similarly, if there are no witnesses to an accident other than the operators of the vehicles, this may create a “he said, she said” situation requiring additional investigation.

Legal News GavelWhen it comes to establishing who was at fault for a motorcycle accident, the initial job rests with the police. However, in some cases, a police investigation comes up short, failing to name either party. Or in cases of a hit-and-run accident, the at-fault driver may not be located. In either event, an accident victim can always seek compensation through their own insurance policy. However, in some cases, an insurance company will deny a motorist’s claim, leaving them with no means of financial recovery.

If an insurance company denies a motorist’s claim or offers insufficient compensation to cover a victim’s injuries, the accident victim can file a personal injury claim. However, Maryland applies a strict legal doctrine when it comes to determining which parties are entitled to compensation. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, only motorists who are completely free from fault are able to recover damages for injuries they sustained in an accident. Thus, it is very important that motorcycle accident victims reach out to discuss their case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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