Articles Posted in Multi-vehicle Accidents

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.

Vintage MotorcycleThe 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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When an collision between two vehicles occurs, those in the immediate vicinity of the accident may have a difficult time avoiding the effects of the accident. These multi-vehicle crashes, or chain-reaction accidents, have a capability to inflict massive damage and threaten the lives of all involved. This is especially true regarding motorcyclists, who, due to the nature of their vehicles, have less protection and may require additional distance to come to a complete and controlled stop.

Motorcycle CrashThat being the case, a motorcyclist who is unable to avoid a collision is not necessarily at fault for his inability to do so. Neither is a motorcyclist to blame for the injuries they sustained in an accident, even if the injuries would not have been as severe had the motorcyclist been driving a car or a truck. Instead, courts will look at whether the motorcyclist did anything to cause the accident. If it is determined that the motorcyclist was merely a victim and did not contribute to the accident, the motorcyclist or their surviving family members may be entitled to monetary compensation from the at-fault driver or drivers.

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Insurance companies are in the business of providing insurance, meaning that they are expected to turn a profit. As a result, insurance companies are constantly looking for ways to minimize the amount they must pay out regarding claims made against the people the company insures. In a recent case, an insurance company was successful in convincing a court that a chain-reaction accident was a single “accident” under the policy, and thus any recovery by the multiple plaintiffs involved was significantly limited.

car-991635_960_720Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association:  The Facts

Back in April 2011, three vehicles were involved in a serious chain-reaction car accident that claimed the life of one and injured several others. According to the court’s written opinion, the driver of an SUV was traveling the wrong way on the highway when he struck an oncoming semi-truck. The truck’s driver had attempted to avoid the collision, but he was unable to do so, and the SUV struck the rear driver’s side portion of the truck.

Moments later, a motorcyclist approached the scene of the accident. The motorcyclist saw the truck pulled off to the side of the road with its hazard lights on, but he was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV, which now lay sideways blocking several lanes of traffic. The motorcyclist collided with the SUV. As a result of his injuries, the motorcyclist had to have one of his legs amputated below the knee. The driver of the semi-truck also suffered lingering pain in his shoulder. Sadly, the driver of the SUV died in the accident.

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The phrase “intentional accident” does not make a lot of sense. Indeed, when most people think of an accident, they think of one party being negligent, such as by forgetting to stop at a stop sign, failing to see another oncoming motorist, or being ignorant of a traffic sign. However, some accidents are seemingly intentional in nature and require a second look.

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Road rage is an increasingly common phenomenon across the United States. Studies have hypothesized regarding the causes and reasons why road rage is seen more today than in the past, with most theories coming back to the fact that we live a fairly high-stress lifestyle as Americans and that there are so many motorists on the road today. However, there is never an excuse to intentionally cause an accident or put other motorists at risk.

Road rage and other forms of aggressive driving are especially dangerous to the motorcyclists on the road. With little to protect them from a fall, motorcyclists often endure serious, life-threatening injuries after being involved in an accident. To think that another person intentionally puts someone at this level of risk is astonishing, but it does happen.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Iowa issued an opinion involving a multi-vehicle motorcycle accident that required the court to determine if two collisions separated by a few seconds should count as one “accident,” as defined in the at-fault party’s insurance policy. In the case, Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association, the court ultimately determined that the chain-reaction collisions should count as just one accident. Thus, all injured parties will be subject to the single per-accident limit of the at-fault party’s insurance policy.

on-the-road-1513470The Facts of the Case

The original collision occurred when a semi-truck collided head-on with an SUV that was traveling the wrong way down the highway. After the initial collision, the semi-truck was pushed off to the shoulder of the road, and the destroyed SUV remained in the middle of the highway. Just a few moments later, a motorcyclist came down the highway and was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV’s wreckage. Sadly, the driver of the SUV was killed in the accident. The motorcyclist and the truck driver were both seriously injured as a result.

The motorcyclist and the truck driver both filed claims with the deceased driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for their property damage as well as for their injuries. Prior to settling those claims, the two plaintiff parties asked the court to issue an order that the two collisions constituted two separate accidents under the SUV’s insurance policy.

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Earlier last month in Prince Frederick, a multi-vehicle accident injured several people, including one man on a Kawasaki motorcycle. According to one local news source, the accident took place on Route 231, near Skipjack Road.

motorcycle---blur-focus-1099136-mEvidently, a Ford Focus was stopped on the single-lane road waiting to make a left-hand turn. As an SUV was approaching the Ford from the rear, the SUV entered onto the median to pass the Ford. The SUV passed successfully, but a van immediately behind the SUV didn’t see that the Ford was in the middle of the road until it was too late. The van collided with the Ford and pushed it into oncoming traffic, where it struck a Honda Civic.

The cars were spread across the road as a result of the collision, and oncoming vehicles were unable to stop in time. Eventually, another two vehicles were involved in the accident. Finally, the van that caused the initial collision was pushed into a passing motorcycle, ejecting the rider.

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Earlier this month in Baltimore, a police chase of a scooter resulted in one officer being seriously injured after the cruiser he was riding in crashed. According to a report by one local news source, the chase started when the officers noticed that the scooter was “unregistered and without the proper safety equipment in contrary to the law.”

yellow-scooter-1007233-mIt all began when the police approached a group of people standing around their dirt bikes and scooters. One of the men in the group took off as police approached. After noticing the scooter was not in compliance with the law, the officers attempted to stop its driver. However, rather than pull over immediately, the driver led police on a brief chase.

Police lost track of the driver for a few moments, and when another unit caught up with the scooter, the chase continued. After a few minutes, the officers on the scene were instructed to call off the chase by their sergeant, but they continued to follow the scooter.

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Earlier this week in Ellicott City, one Elkridge man was critically injured when he was struck by an SUV while riding his motorcycle on Tridelphia Road. According to a report by one local news source, the accident occurred around 2:30 in the afternoon when a Ford SUV made a left turn from Tridelphia Road onto West Ann Drive.

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Evidently, the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed and was attempting to pass a slower motorist when the accident occurred. Preliminary reports indicate that the motorcyclist may have crossed over a double-yellow line in order to pass the slower motorist. As the motorcyclist passed the slower vehicle, the two vehicles collided.

The motorcyclist was taken to the hospital in critical condition. His current status is not known. The driver of the SUV was not injured and remained on the scene until emergency responders arrived. There is no indication as to whether the driver of the SUV will face any charges or citations for her involvement in the crash.

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Earlier this month in New Jersey, a motorcyclist was killed when a Ford Ranger attempted to make a left turn in front of the rider, causing the rider to collide with the side of the truck. According to a report by NJ.com, the accident occurred around six in the evening around East Veterans Highway and South Hope Chapel Road.

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Evidently, the truck’s driver attempted to make a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist, cutting him off and leaving him no option but to slam into the side of the truck. The motorcyclist was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died of the injuries he sustained in the accident.

As police were investigating the accident scene, a woman drove over several of the cones and into the area where police were investigating. Upon stopping her, police determined that she was driving under the influence of drugs. The woman was cited for driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, possession of marijuana under 50 grams, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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Earlier this week, a woman who was responsible for the death of a motorcyclist pled guilty to negligent driving and was required to pay $500 for her role in the accident. Evidently, back in 2013, the woman was texting as she left the parking lot of her employer, telling her mother that she didn’t feel well. Two minutes later, she pulled out onto a busy highway and cut off a motorcyclist, causing him to run into the side of her car and fly off the bike.

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The motorcyclist was killed in the accident, but according to a report by WBALTV, the driver of the car is facing only a $500 penalty. She was initially charged with six offenses: negligent manslaughter by motor vehicle, criminal negligent manslaughter, reckless driving, negligent driving, failure to yield the right of way, and text messaging while driving. The woman struck a deal with prosecutors where she plead guilty to a low-level offense in exchange for their dropping all the other charges.

The family of the victim was sorely disappointed by the especially lenient sentence handed down by the judge. However, the judge had little discretion to do anything else, since it was the prosecution who offered the woman the plea bargain. The family told reporters that they just wanted a jury to hear what happened and to let the jury decide. They didn’t care whether she was found guilty or not but just wanted the case to go to trial.

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