Articles Posted in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

In the tragic event of the death of a family member, a wrongful death claim may allow family members to recover compensation for the loss they suffered. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a claim can be filed by certain family members against the parties at fault for the family member’s death. The Wrongful Death Act is intended to compensate family members of the decedent based on the losses suffered by the family members.

It is common for defendants in Maryland wrongful death claims to raise the fault of the victim as a defense. Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means that if a plaintiff is found to have been even the slightest bit negligent, the plaintiff is completely barred from recovery. Similarly, a person’s contributory negligence bars recovery of a subsequent wrongful death claim.

Another common issue is proving the elements of negligence in the absence of the victim’s testimony. Without the victim’s statement concerning what happened, families often have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove the case. This often requires the assistance of experts and investigators. A plaintiff has the burden to prove all the elements of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence, including whether the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Mere speculation cannot sustain a negligence claim. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care, that the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries, that the injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct, and that the plaintiff suffered injuries.

While there are many causes of Maryland motorcycle accidents, accidents involving another vehicle making a left turn into or in front of a motorcycle are among the most common. In most cases, these accidents are the result of a negligent motorist who fails to take notice of the motorcycle or accurately gauge the speed at which it is approaching. Indeed, experts estimate that roughly 40 percent of all motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle are due to the vehicle making a left turn. Maryland left-turn motorcycle accidents result in hundreds of injuries each year, most of which are entirely preventable.

Most left-turn accidents are the result of a driver not accurately being able to assess the speed of an oncoming motorcycle. Motorists are used to driving around other cars and trucks, and have a built-in sense of how quickly these vehicles move. Thus, most of the time, motorists can safely assess the speed of an oncoming car or truck and determine whether they have enough time to complete their left turn. However, the slim profile of a motorcycle challenges motorists’ assumptions because motorcycles often appear to be approaching more slowly than they are.

Another cause of left-turn motorcycle accidents is a driver’s failure to notice an oncoming motorcycle. Again, due to their slim profile, motorcycles may go unnoticed when approaching an intersection. In this situation, motorists may think they have a clear intersection when they do not. Regardless of the cause, left-turn motorcycle accidents are most often the fault of the turning motorist, as vehicles making left turns must yield the right-of-way to those going straight through an intersection. However, if a motorcyclist is speeding as he travels through the intersection, that may result in the motorcyclist losing the right-of-way, essentially making the accident their fault.

When someone causes a serious or fatal Maryland motorcycle accident, the accident may form the basis of a criminal charge against the at-fault driver. However, while judges in criminal cases can order restitution in some situations, the objective of a criminal case is not to compensate the victim for the damages they sustained. Instead, the criminal justice system is primarily concerned with punishing a defendant for violating the law.

A defendant in a criminal matter may also face a civil claim brought by those who were injured in the accident. These are often referred to as personal injury claims. Unlike a criminal case, the focus of a personal injury case is to compensate an accident victim for the damages they sustained as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Often, this includes damages amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, as well as for any emotional pain and suffering caused by the accident.

When a negligent driver’s negligence or recklessness causes a fatal accident, the accident victim’s surviving loved ones can bring a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. These claims are very similar to negligence claims except that wrongful death cases allow different types of damages, and the process of filing the case is slightly different. The takeaway is that accident victims are not limited by the state’s decision to pursue a criminal conviction against an at-fault driver, and can pursue their own claim against the motorist in civil court.

A Baltimore, Maryland news article recently reported a tragic drunk driving accident. Evidently, a 21-year-old woman under the influence of alcohol killed a motorcyclist after pulling out in front of him. The woman was driving a GMC box truck when she failed to yield to the motorcycle driver. She collided with the man, and he died on impact. The woman was arrested and charged with various crimes, including driving under the influence, driving while impaired, failure to yield, and manslaughter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people die in alcohol-related car accidents every day. Despite measures to prevent drunk driving, there is approximately one fatality every hour. Many Maryland drivers have to navigate typical hazards and congested traffic daily, impaired drivers only heighten the risk of a severe car accident.

Under Maryland law, adult drivers over the age of 21 with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more are considered impaired. A Maryland driver under the legal drinking age who has a BAC level .02 or higher could face a driving under the influence charge. If they have a BAC of .07%, they may face a DUI charge.

Although reckless driving puts everyone on the road at risk, it poses an extraordinary danger to motorcyclists who have very little protection from a potential crash. Unfortunately, Maryland motorcycle accidents are often fatal, although many are completely preventable. While it’s impossible to ensure that all motorists drive carefully to avoid potentially tragic accidents, the reality is that sometimes accidents will happen. However, when accidents happen as a result of reckless driving, Maryland law allows victims to hold the reckless driver responsible for the harm caused.

Motorcyclists who are injured as a result of another driver’s recklessness can file a negligence action against the driver which, if successful, can result in monetary compensation for their injuries. All drivers in Maryland are expected to exercise reasonable caution while on the roads, acting as careful as an ordinarily prudent person would under the circumstances. If a driver’s failure to drive safely results in an accident, any accident victims can pursue a claim of negligence. To be successful in such a claim, a plaintiff must prove that the driver had a duty to act carefully in the situation, the defendant failed to act carefully, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

Take, for example, a recent motorcycle accident in Illinois. According to a local news report covering the accident, a motorcyclist and his passenger were driving south on a divided highway when the crash occurred. The driver of a Ford pickup truck, driving north on the same road, attempted to pass another car in a no-passing zone, and at a point where there was a curve in the road. Unfortunately, this resulted in a head-on crash with the motorcyclist. Both the operator and his passenger were thrown off of the motorcycle. The motorcyclist was seriously injured, and his passenger was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver of the pickup truck was uninjured.

In Maryland, the effects of a motorist’s reckless driving can often be severe, especially for those riding motorcycles. Indeed, Maryland motorcycle accidents are among the most fatal type of traffic accident, and reckless driving is a major cause of these accidents. Under section 21-901.1 of the Transportation Code, reckless driving is defined as driving a motor vehicle “[i]n wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property,” or “[i]n a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

Not only are drivers who drive recklessly subject to criminal penalties, but they may also be liable for negligence or gross negligence claims. Drivers in Maryland have a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. This duty requires drivers to exercise the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise under similar circumstances. The extent of a driver’s duty may change depending on conditions of the weather, the time of day, and other circumstances.

For an accident victim to succeed in a Maryland personal injury claim, they must show that the defendant acted negligently by acting or failing to act in a certain way. General negligence claims require showing that: the defendant had a legal duty to use a certain level of care toward the plaintiff; the defendant failed to meet the standard of care required; the plaintiff suffered damages; and the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s damages. In more extreme cases, gross negligence claims may be pursued. Gross negligence refers to willful and wanton misconduct, or a wanton or reckless disregard for others.

Motorcycle accidents are often traumatic and may lead to significant property damage and physical injuries. It is important that Maryland motorcycle accident victims receive immediate and continuous medical treatment for the injuries they sustain. Unfortunately, it is often impossible for an accident victim to receive the appropriate treatment when the culpable party leaves the scene of the accident. Because the injuries are often preventable, Maryland hit-and-run accidents are some of the most frustrating types of car accidents.

A hit-and-run accident occurs when one of the drivers involved in an accident intentionally leaves the scene without providing their pertinent identifying information or assisting someone else who was injured in the accident. A person might be considered a hit-and-run driver even if they were not at fault. However, most often, the person leaving the scene is the responsible party.

As noted above, in a hit-and-run accident an injured party may not receive appropriate medical treatment. This delay in treatment can lead to worsened injuries or even death. Moreover, the victim may have difficulty pursuing a claim for compensation without being able to identify the at-fault party.

Most Maryland motorcycle accidents are often unavoidable, in that there is nothing that can be done to prevent the accident. By the time another driver makes a mistake, it is typically too late. All a motorcyclist can do to protect themselves is take precautions to ensure that they have done everything in their control to reduce the chances of a fatal accident. This includes always wearing a helmet and keeping a lookout for dangerous drivers.

Of course, it isn’t a motorcyclist’s duty to avoid all accidents, and wearing a helmet doesn’t guarantee against injury. Motorcyclists have to rely on other drivers doing their part. Sadly, that is an expectation that is too frequently left unmet.

Late last month, an accident between a pickup truck and several motorcyclists killed seven and injured several others. According to a local news report, the accident occurred on a New Hampshire highway, just before 6:30 in the evening. Evidently, a group of 10 motorcycles was traveling eastbound as they approached a westbound pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer. The pickup truck inexplicably crossed over the center median and collided with the group of motorcycles. Seven drivers and passengers were killed, and three were hospitalized as a result of the accident.

Determining liability and the appropriate amount of damages in a Maryland multi-vehicle accident can be a complicated process. In many situations, other motorists will attempt to evade responsibility by blaming each other for causing the accident. This can make it more difficult for those injured in the accident to recover for their injuries. To avoid placing the burden of collecting from each defendant individually, Maryland follows the law of joint and several liability, meaning an accident victim can file a lawsuit for damages against both parties and recover the full amount of damages from any party the jury determines is liable.

Recently, an off-duty Maryland police officer died after he was hit by two vehicles on the Beltway. According to a local news report, the police officer was driving his motorcycle when a sedan lost control and veered into his lane. The driver of the sedan reported that he was trying to pass a slow-moving street sweeper. The police officer was thrown over a barrier and landed in the northbound lane. The police officer was then struck by two additional vehicles. He died from his injuries at the hospital later that evening. It is unclear which parties are at fault for the accident, but initial reports do not indicate that the police officer was responsible for the accident. Maryland State Police are still investigating the crash to determine what parties are at fault.

Maryland car accident victims can recover from multiple parties under the theory of joint and several liability. Joint and several liability allows a victim to recover damages either from each defendant separately or collectively. A typical scenario is when two drivers merge onto the highway and cause an accident or injury to a third driver. In these instances, a judge or jury will determine whether more than one party is responsible for the accident. If it is determined that multiple parties shared responsibility, each defendant will be responsible for all of the damages owed to the plaintiff.

The tragedy of losing a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle accident is an experience that no one should ever have to go through. However, on average, there are approximately 70 fatal Maryland motorcycle accidents each year. While some of these accidents are attributable to rider error, many involve negligent motorists who failed to take account of their surroundings.

Under Maryland law, when a person is killed due to another’s negligence, the surviving loved ones of the accident victim can pursue a Maryland wrongful death claim against all responsible parties. It is important the families of accident victims understand that Maryland law requires that a proper party file a wrongful death claim. Under Maryland Code § 3-904, a “primary beneficiary” must be the one to bring the claim. Primary beneficiaries are defined as the “wife, husband, parent, or child of the deceased.” If no primary beneficiary exists, “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased” can bring the claim. These are referred to as secondary beneficiaries.

Once a party establishes that they are a proper party, they must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions were the cause of their loved one’s death. In this sense, a wrongful death case is similar to a traditional Maryland personal injury case, requiring a plaintiff to establish the four elements of a negligence claim: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

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