Articles Posted in Motorcycle Injury Accidents

Motorcyclists have the very same rights to use the roads as other motorists, and this means that other motorists must yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists when necessary. However, each year, there are thousands of motorcycle accidents involving a motorist’s failure to yield to a motorcyclist.

Legal News GavelOf all Maryland motorcycle accidents, the most common are when a motorcyclist is traveling straight and another vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist. Indeed, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data suggests that approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle are caused by the driver making a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist.

Left-turn motorcycle accidents are common for a number of reasons. First, motorists may not be accustomed to sharing the road with motorcycles, which have a slimmer profile than cars. This often results in a motorist’s inability to accurately gauge how fast a motorcycle is traveling at the moment the motorist decides to initiate a left-hand turn. Another common reason for left-turn motorcycle accidents is the motorist’s failure to see an approaching motorcycle. This is often due to distracted driving on the motorist’s part.

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When a parent allows a child to use their car, they are trusting that the child will operate the vehicle responsibly. However, history has proven that this is not always the case. In fact, due to the inherent risks of sharing the road with motorcycles, many Maryland motorcycle accidents are caused by young and inexperienced drivers.

Legal News GavelMost people assume that when a child causes a motorcycle accident, the child’s parents can be held civilly liable for any damage and injuries caused by the accident, which are often quite serious. In a recent case, a state appellate court discussed when a parent may be liable for their child’s accident. That court applied the “family purpose doctrine,” which confers liability onto the owner of the vehicle that the related minor was operating when causing the accident. This is a blanket rule that applies by default, making it easier for accident victims to recover compensation for their injuries from a minor’s parents. However, under Maryland personal injury law, a different standard is applied.

Maryland employs a different doctrine, entitled negligent entrustment, when determining if a parent can be held liable for the negligent acts of their children. The question in a negligent entrustment analysis is 1.) whether the teen driver was incompetent to operate a motor vehicle, and 2.) whether the parent knew about the incompetence. The idea is that Maryland lawmakers have determined that a parent should not be liable for a child’s negligence unless the minor’s inability to safely operate a vehicle was known to the parent at the time they allowed the child to use the vehicle.

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The chances are that anyone who drives even a few miles a day has seen another motorist using a cell phone while driving. Despite the illegality of cell-phone use while driving, most motorists admit to using their phone at least occasionally while behind the wheel. Not only is using a cell phone while driving against the law, but it is also likely to cause a Maryland motorcycle accident.

Legal News GavelTo begin with, motorcycles are more difficult for motorists to see. Add to that a driver who is more focused on their cell phone than the road ahead of them, and the result is a greatly increased chance of being involved in a motorcycle accident. Of course, all Maryland drivers have an obligation to operate their vehicle in a safe manner, and a driver’s failure to do so may result in civil liability.

Maryland Motorcycle Accident Cases

In Maryland, anyone who has been injured in a motorcycle accident can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the party they believe to be responsible for their injuries. In order to succeed, an accident victim must be able to establish that the other driver was somehow negligent in the operation of their vehicle, and the other driver’s negligence caused the accident victim’s injuries.

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While all ages of drivers are capable of negligent driving, young drivers in particular present an especially high risk for Maryland motorcyclists. Indeed, it has long been understood that young drivers are responsible for the most Maryland motorcycle accidents when compared to other age groups. Some statistics have found that one in five teen motorists are involved in a collision of some sort each year.

Legal News GavelYoung drivers present such a high risk for a number of reasons. Of course, it goes without saying that young drivers have less experience driving. However, that factor alone does not totally account for the increased rate of accidents because new drivers who obtain a driver’s license later in life do not present as high a risk. Teens, as a group, are more likely to engage in several other risky behaviors while driving, including:

  • Driving while talking on a cell phone;
  • Texting while driving;
  • Talking to passengers in the rear seats;
  • Speeding;
  • Driving aggressively; and
  • Using poor judgment.

Can Parents Be Held Responsible for a Minor’s Accident?

In Maryland, a parent can usually only be held responsible for an accident caused by their minor child if the accident involves a crime. If there is no crime committed, it is likely that the parents of the minor will not be financially liable. However, to the extent that a child is on the parent’s insurance policy, the insurance company will be on the hook for the accident.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by several men who were injured in a multi-vehicle motorcycle collision they claimed was caused by the defendant’s aggressive driving. Since the lower court prevented the defendant from admitting certain evidence, the appellate court was tasked with determining whether the evidence should have been excluded. Finding that it was improperly excluded, the case was reversed.

Legal News GavelThe below case is important for Maryland motorcycle accident plaintiffs because it illustrates how important pre-trial discovery motions can be. Indeed, many cases are won and lost before the jury is even empaneled. This is because a party that loses a pre-trial evidentiary ruling may be more willing to consider a settlement offer, reducing the risk of taking the case to trial.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were three men who left the bar at around 11:00 p.m. Two men were driving a motorcycle, and the third was a passenger on the back of one of the motorcycles. The passenger was on the rear of a bike that was operated by a driver who only had a learner’s permit and was not legally permitted to carry a passenger.

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In the Washington, D.C. area, it is not uncommon to see government workers conducting official business while out on the road. Inevitably, government workers – like other drivers – will get involved in motor vehicle accidents. In these situations, the question often arises of when an accident victim can hold the government responsible for the actions of an employee.

Legal News GavelAs a general rule, state and federal governments cannot be sued without their consent. However, almost all states – as well as the federal government – have passed a series of laws that explain when a government will agree to be sued. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, the federal government waives its immunity in cases involving personal injuries caused by employees under certain circumstances.

In order for immunity to be waived, an accident victim must show that the government employee was engaging in a ministerial task that was within the course of their employment when the injury occurred. This can be broken down into two elements:

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While all motorcycle accidents have the potential to result in serious injuries or death, hit-and-run accidents are especially dangerous. Primarily, this is because depending on the surrounding circumstances, the injured motorcyclist may be left on the side of the road with no way to contact authorities.

MotorcycleAs a general rule, a motorist who is involved in an accident of any kind must stop after the accident and exchange information with the other motorists involved in the accident. Additionally, motorists may have a duty to ensure that anyone who was injured in the accident receives timely medical attention. Most often, this includes calling 911 to make sure that the authorities are aware of the accident and can send the appropriate medical personnel.

When a motorist is involved in an accident and fails to stop and render assistance to the other parties involved, that driver may be held liable for any injuries resulting from the accident. This may even be the case if the motorist was not the one who was solely responsible for causing the accident.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in South Dakota issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case that was brought by a man who was injured when he was unable to stop in time to avoid a line of traffic that had built up as a result of a previous accident. The case was brought against the drunk driver who had caused the original accident. However, due to numerous factors, the court held that the drunk driver’s negligent actions were not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

At around 3:00 p.m. on August 5, 2012, an intoxicated motorcyclist failed to negotiate a curve in the highway and ended up driving off the road into a ditch. There was no indication that the motorcycle or any debris was remaining in the road following the accident. The Highway Patrol responded, and the motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Highway Patrol began an accident reconstruction project at around 4:00 p.m., and at this time, traffic was flowing in both directions. A highway patrol officer was stationed to the east of the accident to warn approaching motorists.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Mississippi issued a written opinion that should serve as a warning to anyone injured in a motorcycle accident and planning on filing a claim with either the other driver’s insurance company or even their own insurance company. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss how an insurance policy’s per-person limit can limit or prevent derivative claims from being filed by the loved ones of the injured party.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The case was filed by two plaintiffs, who were married. The husband was involved in a motorcycle accident that was caused by another party. His wife was not with him at the time of the accident. After the accident, three insurance provisions were triggered:

  • The at-fault driver’s policy;
  • The plaintiffs’ insurance policy that covered the motorcycle; and
  • The plaintiffs’ insurance company that covered two other vehicles.

Both of the plaintiffs’ policies had an underinsured motorist provision, whereby the policy would compensate the policyholder in the event that an at-fault driver’s insurance coverage was insufficient to cover the policyholder’s injuries.

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All motorcycle accidents are terrible, but hit-and-run accidents are some of the worst, not just because the hit-and-run driver has shown a total disregard for the safety and wellbeing of a fellow motorist, but because the injured party might have to wait for minutes – or even hours – for help to arrive if they are unable to make the call themselves.

Legal News GavelWhile anyone injured in a hit-and-run accident may be entitled to compensation from the responsible party to help them cover the costs of their injuries, finding the at-fault individual is necessarily the first step in the process. In many cases, responding police personnel will look for eyewitnesses, nearby video footage, or even physical evidence left at the scene, such as damaged car parts. This evidence can be crucial in helping police locate the alleged hit-and-run driver.

Once a hit-and-run driver is located, establishing liability may be easier than in a traditional car accident, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident and injuries. For example, if an accident victim’s injuries were worsened due to the lack of timely medical care, this can likely be attributable to the hit-and-run driver. It is also important to keep in mind that it is illegal to leave the scene of any accident, regardless of who was at fault.

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