The death of a loved one is tragic. In Maryland motor vehicle crashes, the party at fault for the crash should be held responsible for their actions. The wrongful death statute in Maryland allows certain family members to recover compensation after the family members’ death. The purpose of the statute is “to compensate the families of the decedents, as opposed to the estates of the decedents.” Therefore, a wrongful death claim is a separate claim that can be brought by the decedent’s family.

Old-School BicycleThe law allows for certain beneficiaries to file a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Primary beneficiaries are defined as the spouses, parents, or children of the deceased person. If no primary beneficiaries exist, Maryland law permits secondary beneficiaries to pursue a claim. A secondary plaintiff is any other person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was wholly dependent on the decedent.

In order to prove liability, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s wrongful act resulted in their loved one’s death. Under the statute, a wrongful act is an “act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the injured party to maintain an action and recover damages” if the person had not died. Plaintiffs may recover damages for not only pecuniary losses but also pain and suffering, loss of companionship, parental care, guidance, and more.

Continue Reading

Drunk drivers pose a serious risk to everyone on the road; however, bicyclists are at an especially high risk of being seriously injured or killed if they are involved in a Maryland drunk driving accident. Not just are bicyclists more likely to be injured if they are struck by a drunk driver, but also, due to their slim profile, they are more likely to be overlooked by an intoxicated driver. Additionally, since most bicyclists ride near the side of the lane or on the road’s shoulder, a drunk driver could easily drift off the road and into a biker.

Bicycle CrashWhile Maryland law permits the victims of drunk driving accidents to seek compensation for their injuries through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit, filing a case is by no means a guarantee. For example, the other driver’s insurance company may defend against the lawsuit if it believes that there may be a way to avoid paying out what may be a large sum of money. If an insurance company believes that the accident victim was partially at fault for the accident – even if the other driver was intoxicated – it may defend the case on behalf of the other driver.

In some cases, insurance companies will pretend to be on an accident victim’s side and present an offer to settle the case if the accident victim agrees not to sue. Accident victims should be wary of these offers, especially when they are made early in the process, since they are often low-ball offers designed to settle for as little money as possible. With the assistance of a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney, accident victims can ensure that they are treated fairly throughout the process and stand a good chance of recovering fully for their injuries.

Continue Reading

When a motorist negligently causes an accident with a motorcyclist, resulting in injuries to the motorcyclist, the at-fault driver may be held liable for their negligent actions through a Maryland motorcycle accident lawsuit. However, when the at-fault party is a government employee, there are often additional complications, due to government immunity that attaches in some situations.

Police CarGovernment Immunity in Maryland Motorcycle Accidents

It used to be that governments and their employees were never liable for any accident that occurred while carrying out official government business. However, with the passage of the Maryland Tort Claims Act, this official government immunity is waived in certain circumstances.

Under the MTCA, small claims against the government are permitted as long as liability does not exceed $200,000 per claim. It is important to note that these claims will not be automatically approved, and most need to be litigated before compensation will be available. Claims under the MTCA have strict notice and timeliness requirements that must be followed, or cases will be dismissed. Anyone considering filing a Maryland personal injury claim against a government entity should consult with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

When Maryland motorists get behind the wheel, they assume a duty to the other drivers they encounter along their journey, including motorcyclists. Motorcyclists in particular are at an increased danger of suffering serious or fatal injuries following an accident, due to the lack of protection motorcycles afford riders. When it comes to Maryland motorcycle accidents, there are many causes; however, certain common traffic situations pose a heightened risk.

Stop LightA large percentage of Maryland motorcycle accidents occur at traffic intersections when another motorist runs a red light or makes a left-hand turn in front of an approaching motorcycle. These failure-to-yield accidents account for over half of all fatal motorcycle accidents. In part, these accidents are so common because motorists are not accustomed to sharing the road with motorcycles and may have a difficult time assessing the speed at which an approaching motorcycle is traveling.

Another common cause of failure-to-yield motorcycle accidents is aggressive driving, which may be a manifestation of drunk or intoxicated driving. In any event, when a motorist causes a serious or fatal Maryland motorcycle accident, the surviving loved ones affected by the accident may be able to pursue a Maryland personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault motorist. Successful parties may receive compensation for medical bills, missed work, and any pain and suffering caused by the accident.

Continue Reading

Bicyclists and motorcycles are the most vulnerable vehicles on the road. Between the lack of protection and the slim profile of bikes and motorcycles, riders who are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident often suffer serious injuries. While helmets can help reduce the chances of being seriously injured or killed in some cases, a helmet can only do so much to protect the victims of a Maryland bicycle accident.

BikeMost often, when a motorcyclist or bicyclist is killed in a traffic accident, family members are left behind not just with the grief of recently losing someone but also with many questions. Adding to the anxiety is the prospect of paying for potentially astronomical medical expenses and taking care of the final arrangements for the recently departed.

Maryland’s wrongful death law allows for surviving loved ones to seek compensation from an at-fault party responsible for the accident resulting in their loved one’s death. Most immediate family members are able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, including spouses, parents, and children. More distant family members may also be able to bring a Maryland wrongful death claim if the accident victim has no close family members.

Continue Reading

One of the most common questions we see in Maryland motorcycle accidents is whether the fact that an accident victim was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident can be used against the accident victim at trial. While states across the nation are split on this question – with some states not yet having arrived at a definitive answer – Maryland courts generally do not allow evidence of helmet non-use to show that the motorcyclist was negligent.

Motorcycle HelmetCourts that prevent helmet non-use evidence from being considered at trial understand that the benefits of wearing a helmet are common knowledge, and people are aware that helmets can help save a rider’s life in some circumstances. However, the legal question in Maryland motorcycle accidents is whether the defendant breached a duty of care that he owed to the accident victim, and whether the defendant’s breach of the duty resulted in the accident victim’s injuries. This inquiry does not necessarily require courts to look at whether the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

In fact, several courts have determined that when helmet non-use evidence is presented to a jury, it may have the unintended consequence of essentially requiring a plaintiff to prove that they could not have prevented their own injuries through helmet use. This is not how the law should be applied, so these courts prevent helmet non-use evidence to prevent this unfair result.

Continue Reading

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.

Yield SignAs 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:

Continue Reading

Last month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion affirming a lower court’s decision to enter summary judgment in favor of a motorcycle accident victim. While the court determined that the driver who caused the accident was individually liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, the court also held that the trust for which the at-fault driver was a trustee could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

motorcycleThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who was driving his motorcycle eastbound in the slow lane of the Route 50 highway. The defendant, who was operating a flatbed truck, was facing northbound on a perpendicular street, preparing to make a left turn to head westbound on Route 50. As the defendant pulled out into the eastbound lanes of traffic, he cut off the motorcyclist, who collided with the front driver’s-side quarter-panel of the truck. The motorcyclist was seriously injured and taken to the hospital, where he later passed away.

The responding police officer surveyed the accident scene, finding that the motorcyclist tried to brake before colliding with the truck but was unable to come to a stop in time. The officer determined that the defendant was at fault and issued a citation for failing to yield to the motorcyclist.

Continue Reading

Anyone familiar with riding a motorcycle knows that there are certain unavoidable dangers that confront riders every time they get on a bike. Whether it is an intoxicated or distracted driver or a motorist who misjudges the speed at which a motorcyclist is traveling, many of the risks facing motorcyclists are beyond their control. However, of all of the dangers out there, one of the biggest dangers to motorcyclists is aggressive or distracted drivers.

HandlebarsDistracted driving is a broad term used to describe any time a motorist’s attention is diverted anywhere other than the road ahead of them. The reasons for distracted driving vary, but commonly distracted driving involves the use of a cell phone to talk or text. In some cases, a driver can be distracted by other passengers, by eating or drinking, or by adjusting the volume on the radio or the coordinates on the GPS system. In any event, distracted driving is dangerous, and the law discourages the behavior by allowing anyone injured by a distracted driver to hold the distracted driver accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.

Of course, proving that a driver was distracted is not always easy, and it is best left to an experienced personal injury attorney. With an attorney’s help, accident victims may be able to obtain cell-phone records, traffic-camera footage, or witness testimony to establish that another driver was not paying attention.

Continue Reading

Contact Information