Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accident Case Law

Historically, the state and federal government were entitled to immunity from most types of liability. Thus, unless a government entity specifically consented to being named in a lawsuit, the case would be dismissed by the court. However, about a century ago the federal government, as well as all the state governments, passed laws called tort claims acts. These laws enumerated certain types of claims that could be brought against a government. The Maryland Tort Claims Act allows certain types of personal injury accidents to be filed against the state, including some Maryland motorcycle accidents.

Most states follow one of two types of tort claims acts. The first type allows for a very narrow range of claims to be filed against the government. However, if a claim is allowed, the plaintiff can typically recover significant damages against the government. Maryland’s tort claims act operates differently in that it allows for a very broad range of claims to be pursued against the government, but implements a fairly low damages cap in these cases. Thus, many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs are able to recover, but few recover enough money to fully compensate them for their injuries.

To successfully file a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against a government entity, the plaintiff must comply with the procedural requirements set out in the tort claims act. The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) typically requires the plaintiff to provide notice of the claim, including her theory of liability and what damages she is seeking. If a plaintiff fails to follow these procedures, her case will likely be dismissed. And if this occurs after the statute of limitations has run, she will be left without any means of recovery. Thus, ensuring total compliance with the MTCA is essential. A recent case illustrates the difficulties plaintiffs can run into when proper notice is not provided.

After someone is injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, the law allows for the accident victim to pursue a claim for compensation against any parties responsible for the accident. Statistics show that motorcyclists are more likely than other motorists to be involved in a single-vehicle crash. In addition, motorcyclists may be more susceptible to hazards presented by dangerously designed roads. A recent case illustrates the types of issues that can come up when a motorcyclist files a personal injury lawsuit against a city based on dangerously designed roads.

As the court described the facts, the plaintiff was traveling northbound in the left lane on a divided highway. As the plaintiff neared an intersection, he noticed there was a southbound SUV slowly approaching the intersection. The SUV began to make a left turn in front of the motorcycle, cutting the plaintiff off. Having no time to avoid the collision, the plaintiff’s bike slammed into the passenger’s side of the SUV. After the accident, the driver of the SUV claimed that his vision of approaching traffic was obscured by several trees and their wooden supports in the highway’s center median.

The plaintiff initiated a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, including the driver of the SUV and the city where the accident occurred. The plaintiff claimed that the city was negligent in designing the road and placing the trees in the center median where they could obstruct motorists’ view of oncoming traffic.

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court released an opinion illustrating why some Maryland motorcycle accident cases may require the testimony from an expert witness. The case involved a motorcycle accident that was allegedly caused by a defective tire and made worse by the fact that the helmets worn by the plaintiffs were also defective. However, the court concluded that the plaintiffs’ case against the defendants was insufficient as a matter of law because the plaintiffs failed to present any expert witness testimony establishing causation.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiffs were on a cross-country motorcycle trip. While riding through Nebraska, one of the motorcycle’s tires became punctured, causing the tire to deflate rapidly. As a result, the driver of the motorcycle lost control and crashed into the center median. Both plaintiffs were wearing helmets; however, they each sustained serious head injuries.

A few months after the accident, the plaintiffs received notice that the helmets they had worn during the crash were recalled. The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against several parties who manufactured, marketed, distributed, and sold the helmets and motorcycle. The plaintiffs claimed that a defective tire caused the accident, and that their injuries were worsened because the helmets were defective.

When someone purchases a Maryland auto insurance policy, the insured must provide the insurance company with the make and model of each vehicle that they want to be insured. Typically, people choose to purchase insurance on each of their vehicles; however, it is not uncommon for a vehicle owner to choose not to name a vehicle in a policy. This may be because the vehicle is used only seasonally or is used exclusively by someone who is away on military leave or at college.

When an insurance company writes a policy, the coverage will generally extend to all vehicles named under the policy. However, if a policyholder chooses not to name a vehicle in the policy, the insurance company will likely exclude that vehicle from coverage. This is commonly referred to as the “owned but not insured” exclusion. A recent case illustrates how this exclusion could impact an injury victim’s ability to recover for their injuries.

According to the court’s opinion, a teenager died after he was involved in a fatal accident while he was operating a 49cc moped. The teenager’s family filed a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, recovering the policy maximum of $100,000. The teenager’s family also filed an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim against their own insurance carrier, seeking benefits for the loss of their son’s life.

While every accident is different, generally speaking Maryland motorcycle accidents often result in very serious injuries. In most cases, a motorist who causes a motorcycle accident will not have the financial means necessary to pay for the damages sustained in the crash. This is why it is so auto insurance is so important.

Maryland law requires that all motorists maintain a certain amount of insurance on their vehicle to compensate anyone who may be injured as a result of the driver’s negligence. In Maryland, there are three types of mandatory car insurance:

  • Liability: this coverage compensates those who have been injured as a result of the insured’s negligence
  • Property Damage: this coverage compensates accident victims for the damage to their property caused by the insured’s negligence; and
  • Un/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Protection: this coverage kicks in when another motorist’s liability insurance coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the insured for the injuries they sustained in an accident.

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One of the most frustrating aspects of being involved in a Maryland motorcycle accident is dealing with insurance companies. Vehicle insurance is required in Maryland, and for a good reason. However, unfortunately, insurance companies often make the recovery process harder on accident victims by creating additional stress and anxiety.

After being involved in a Maryland motorcycle accident, accident victims often have sustained serious injuries and have missed time away from work. However, life’s expenses do not stop and, when combined with potentially astronomical medical bills, accident victims find themselves in a difficult financial position. Too often, insurance companies prey upon these vulnerabilities be denying a claim they know that the accident victim will not have time to pursue or offering an accident victim a low-ball settlement offer in hopes of making the case go away.

A recent case illustrates the lengths that insurance companies will go to in an attempt to avoid financial responsibility for an accident.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to determine if a group of city contractors that designed and landscaped the foliage around an intersection could be held liable after a motorist was killed at the intersection. Ultimately, the court concluded that because the city approved the work and the alleged hazard was readily apparent, the contractors were absolved from liability.

The case is important for Maryland car accident victims because, while the exact doctrine applied in Maryland differs slightly from that which was applied in this case, the concepts and considerations underlying the court’s rationale are consistent with Maryland law.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the mother of a man who died after being struck by a truck upon entering an intersection on his motorcycle. The plaintiff claimed that the foliage surrounding the intersection obstructed the motorists’ view of the intersection as they approached, causing the accident.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises an important issue for Maryland motorcycle accident victims who believe that their injuries were due to a poorly designed road or intersection. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff established that the government’s negligent planning and design of the road were the proximate cause of her injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a northbound motorcycle being driven by her husband. The couple approached an intersection in which they did not have a stop sign. At the same time, a pick-up truck was traveling in a perpendicular direction and had stopped at a stop sign. The driver of the pick-up truck looked both ways before entering the intersection; however, as he pulled into the intersection, the plaintiff and her husband collided with the side of the truck.

The plaintiff was seriously injured, and her husband died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the government in charge of designing and maintaining the road, claiming that the road was negligently designed. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the government was negligent in failing to install a four-way stop at the intersection, allowing too high a speed limit, and failing to provide adequate signage in advance of the intersection.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raised an interesting perspective on an issue that commonly comes up in Maryland motorcycle accidents. The case involved an accident victim’s claim that he was an “occupant” in the vehicle that struck him because, after the collision, the man landed atop the car, which was insured by the defendant insurance company.

While the court rejected the plaintiff’s creative argument, the case illustrates the type of outside-the-box thinking that can sometimes be successful in Maryland personal injury cases.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was stopped at a red light when he was rear-ended by the defendant’s vehicle. After the collision, the plaintiff fell backwards, landing on the hood of the defendant’s car and rolling up the windshield before falling onto the ground. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries in the accident and filed a personal injury claim against the defendant.

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As a general matter, Maryland government employees, entities, and organizations are entitled to immunity from Maryland personal injury lawsuits. However, under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA), accident victims can pursue a claim for compensation against the government in certain limited situations.

Under the MTCA, victims can pursue a variety of claims against government entities up to the statutory limit of $400,000 per claimant per incident. However, certain conduct is removed from the MTCA and will not be covered. Namely, this is if the person or entity that caused the injury acted with malice or gross negligence or took actions not within the scope of the person’s employment. Other important exceptions also apply, and anyone considering a claim against a government agency or official in Maryland should consult with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.

A recent case discusses one motorcycle accident plaintiff’s difficulties when attempting to bring a lawsuit against a local government for the condition of the roads that she believed caused the accident. While the state’s tort claims act involved in the case is different from Maryland’s, the case illustrates some of the common difficulties plaintiffs have when attempting to bring a lawsuit against a government entity.

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