Articles Posted in Multi-vehicle Accidents

A Maryland chain-reaction car accident is one in which an initial collision between two or more vehicles starts a series of events in motion that ultimately causes subsequent accidents. Motorcyclists are especially at risk for getting involved in a chain-reaction accident because they are often unable to stop in time or steer clear of an upcoming collision.

Chain reaction accidents can be very dangerous, especially for motorcyclists who lack the protection provided by a car’s steel frame. Even an accident involving relatively slow speeds can throw a motorcyclist off their bike and onto the pavement, where they are at risk for being hit by another vehicle. In this situation, even wearing a helmet will not fully protect a rider from serious injury or death.

Everyone shares the responsibility to make the road a safe place. Motorists must maintain constant awareness of their surroundings, and should be sure to leave other vehicles with enough room to stop or take evasive actions, when necessary. However, in reality, motorists who travel on busy Maryland roads every day often adopt aggressive driving habits that put motorcycles at risk. When a motorist’s dangerous driving causes or contributes to a Maryland motorcycle accident, that motorist may be liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries.

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.

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.

As 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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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.

The 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.

That 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.

Hughes 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.

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.

The 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.

Evidently, 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.”

It 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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