Gross Negligence in Maryland Motorcycle Accidents

Maryland motorcyclists and all other drivers must exercise reasonable care at any time that they are on the road. At times, a driver’s lack of care goes beyond simple negligence. Under Maryland law, gross negligence refers to willful and wanton misconduct, which is considered as something more than simple negligence, and closer to reckless conduct. Gross negligence signifies conduct “in reckless disregard of the consequences” and the actor’s lack of concern for the effect on another person’s life or property. It also suggests a disregard of the consequences without any attempts to avoid them. Whether gross negligence was committed is fact-specific and is generally a question for a jury. A recent case is an example of a situation in which one state appeals court found that gross negligence may have resulted in a motorcycle crash.

According to the court’s opinion, a raceway obtained a license from a racing federation to hold federation-sanctioned motorcycle events. An association managed operations for the raceway. To control erosion, the association placed unmarked sandbags around the raceway. The association did not have any staff with experience or training in track safety, and the placement of sandbags violated federation standards. The plaintiff was competing in a motorcycle racing event and lost control of his motorcycle. He entered the safety zone, collided with the sandbags, and suffered serious injuries. He was not warned of the sandbags, which were the same color as the track.

The plaintiff filed a claim that alleged that the association was liable for gross negligence and that the county was liable for a dangerous condition of public property. After a trial court dismissed the claim, a state court of appeals reversed. The appeals court found that it might have been grossly negligent for the association to divert money to operations instead of erosion protection and to rely on the assessments of an executive with no track safety training. In addition, the raceway association could be found liable for a dangerous condition.

The appeals court reasoned that the presence of sandbags on or near the track was not an inherent risk of amateur motorcycle track racing, and the unmarked sandbags in an intended safety zone substantially increased the risk of injury to the motorcycle racers beyond the risks inherent in motorcycle racing. The court noted that the track was dry that day, the association postponed safety upgrades to the track, and the association diverted funds to operating expenses rather than funding track upgrades.

Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Crash?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Maryland motorcycle crash, consider contacting an experienced motorcycle accident attorney for immediate assistance with your claim. The person or entity responsible should be held accountable. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, our injury attorneys are proud to assist motorcycle accident victims with getting their lives back on track. Our lawyers have over 20 years of experience representing victims and their families in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. region. Call us for a free consultation at 800-654-1949 or contact us online.

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