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.

Vintage MotorcycleMost 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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Probably anyone who knows how to ride a motorcycle remembers navigating their first set of railroad tracks. To be sure, even railroad tracks that are no longer used pose a potential threat to motorcyclists, who can lose traction and skid out over the smooth surface of the tracks unless they are crossed in a perpendicular direction. However, active railroad tracks present a much more serious danger to all motorists, including Maryland motorcyclists.

Railroad TracksWhile not necessarily one of the top causes of Maryland bicycle accidents, several bicyclists and motorcyclists are involved in accidents on or near railroad crossings each year. While most of these accidents do not involve speeding trains, the danger is still present, and motorcyclists should take precautions whenever crossing railroad tracks. This is especially because a motorcyclist may not be able to hear a train’s horn over the sound of the bike’s engine.

Of course, not all the burden of avoiding an accident rests with the motorcyclist. The railroad company is responsible for the maintenance of a track, and local government agencies are tasked with ensuring that railroad crossings are safely designed to reduce the risk of an accident. When a motorcycle accident occurs on or near a railroad track, anyone injured as a result of the accident should reach out to a dedicated Maryland motorcycle accident attorney to discuss their case.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents a very important issue for the victims of Maryland bicycle accidents. The case required the court to interpret and apply the state’s recreational use statute, determining if the conduct of the government defendant in charge of maintaining the land where the plaintiff sustained his injuries rose to the level of “willful or wanton.”

Bike TrailFinding that the government’s conduct was not willful or wanton, the court determined that the government agency was entitled to immunity and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was riding his bicycle on a mixed-use trail on a summer morning. As the plaintiff approached a pedestrian on the trail, he rang his bell and began to pass the pedestrian by moving into the middle of the trail. However, as the plaintiff steered the bike to the middle of the trail, the bike’s tire got caught in a crack that was about three inches wide and two inches deep, and ran approximately four feet in the direction of travel. As the bike’s wheel got caught, the plaintiff lost his balance and fell, injuring his shoulder.

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While many Maryland motorcycle accidents are clearly the fault of one party or another, other accidents present more a complex situation. For example, if both of the drivers involved committed a traffic violation, it may be difficult to determine which party should be held responsible. Similarly, if there are no witnesses to an accident other than the operators of the vehicles, this may create a “he said, she said” situation requiring additional investigation.

On the RoadWhen it comes to establishing who was at fault for a motorcycle accident, the initial job rests with the police. However, in some cases, a police investigation comes up short, failing to name either party. Or in cases of a hit-and-run accident, the at-fault driver may not be located. In either event, an accident victim can always seek compensation through their own insurance policy. However, in some cases, an insurance company will deny a motorist’s claim, leaving them with no means of financial recovery.

If an insurance company denies a motorist’s claim or offers insufficient compensation to cover a victim’s injuries, the accident victim can file a personal injury claim. However, Maryland applies a strict legal doctrine when it comes to determining which parties are entitled to compensation. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, only motorists who are completely free from fault are able to recover damages for injuries they sustained in an accident. Thus, it is very important that motorcycle accident victims reach out to discuss their case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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Maryland bicycle accidents are occurring at a startling rate across the state. The majority of these accidents take place in larger urban areas, such as Baltimore or Washington, D.C., and most occur at intersections. Intersections present a particularly dangerous situation to bicyclists because many drivers are unfamiliar with the traffic laws as they pertain to bicyclists, and they assume that the bicyclist is going to yield to them. However, that is not what the law requires.

Garbage TruckAs a general rule, motorists must treat bicyclists as though they are any other vehicle on the road, with some exceptions. For example, motorists must take care in passing bicyclists and should leave ample room when pulling back in front of a bicyclist after passing. Additionally, motorists must leave at least three feet between their vehicle and the bicyclist. A driver’s failure to safely follow the traffic laws may result in their financial liability to anyone injured in an accident.

Settlement Reached in Bicycle Accident Case Involving Garbage Truck

Earlier last month, a settlement agreement was reached in a case involving a man who was struck by a garbage truck while riding his bicycle on the shoulder of the road. According to a local news report covering the accident and subsequent personal injury case, the parties agreed to settle the lawsuit for $2.6 million.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Kentucky issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case that illustrates a very important principle that also applies to many Maryland motorcycle accident cases. The case required the appellate court to determine if sufficient evidence existed to support the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant. Finding that sufficient evidence did exist, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Fallen TreeThe Facts of the Case

A few days after a major wind storm, the plaintiff was injured when he struck a fallen tree in the middle of the roadway. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the county engineer, as well as the engineer’s supervisor, arguing that they were negligent in failing to follow their duty to maintain a clear roadway.

Initially, the engineer argued that he was entitled to government immunity because he did not believe tree removal to be a part of his job. However, that issue was appealed, and it was determined that the engineer was not entitled to government immunity merely because he was unaware of his full duties. After that decision, the case was sent back to the trial court to proceed toward trial.

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Given the increase in gas prices as well as the increase in environmental awareness, more and more people are eschewing gas-guzzling cars and hopping on their bikes to get to work. Riding a bike to work comes with a number of benefits, including saving money, getting exercise, and developing a closer connection with the community. However, biking also comes with its share of hazards, especially when biking in urban areas.

Girl on BikeEach year, there are over 800 Maryland bicycle accidents across the state, with over 650 of those accidents resulting in the bicyclist being injured. Unfortunately, the data also suggest that the number of bicycle accidents in Maryland seems to be increasing. While the most recent data suggests that bicycle fatalities are fairly low, this number is likely to increase as more people choose bicycles as a preferred method of commuting. Over 85% of those accidents occur in the metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

On top of the generally applicable traffic laws that apply in all situations, Maryland lawmakers have enacted several rules to protect bicyclists, including the following requirements:

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit that presented an interesting issue that many Maryland bicycle accident plaintiffs encounter when seeking compensation for their injuries. The case involved the interpretation of a recreational use statute and required the court to determine whether the trail where the plaintiff was injured was covered under the statute’s grant of immunity. Ultimately, the court concluded that the trail where the plaintiff’s injury occurred was not the type the legislature intended to include within the statute’s text. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Bike TrailThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured while riding with a group of friends on a paved biking trail. Evidently, there was an area of the trail where the pavement had started to break away, due to vegetation that grew up through the pavement. The trail was paved and was painted with a yellow line to designate directional travel. The path was also used by an electric company to access power lines that ran to nearby neighborhoods. The path intersected not just with other mixed-use paths but also with several roads.

As the plaintiff was riding behind a friend, her friend fell off her bike, causing the plaintiff to fall as well. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of the fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the city that was in charge of maintaining the path.

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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.

MotorcyclistTo 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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Semi-trucks present a danger to all motorists with whom they share the road. In part, this is due to their large and cumbersome size, which does not lend itself to being easily maneuvered in the event of an emergency situation. Additionally, the enormous size of these trucks creates large blind spots that can make it difficult for truck drivers to safely change lanes and make turns.

MotorcyclistWhile all motorists are at risk of being involved in a Maryland truck accident, perhaps none face as high a risk as motorcyclists. With their slim profile, motorcyclists are too often not seen by motorists in cars, let alone truck drivers dealing with blind spots that are several times the size of cars. Despite the difficulties truck drivers face when operating their vehicles on a crowded highway, truck drivers are always required to operate their rig in a safe and responsible manner. This includes making sure that all blind spots are clear before making a turn or lane change.

When a Maryland truck driver fails to take the adequate precautions when changing lanes or turning, they may be held liable for any injuries that were caused as a result of their negligence through a Maryland truck accident lawsuit. These cases can present a number of complex legal issues, including the determination of which parties should be named in the lawsuit. In some cases, a truck driver’s employer can be named as an additional defendant, potentially increasing the likelihood of a full and fair recovery.

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