A wrongful death claim is a claim brought after a person’s death that was caused by a defendant’s wrongful act. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a family member may be able to recover financial compensation due to their family member’s untimely death. A wrongful death claim is meant to compensate grieving family members, allowing them to recover for acts that would have entitled the decedent to recover compensation if they had survived.

A Maryland wrongful death claim is generally filed by a primary beneficiary. Spouses, parents, and children are considered “primary” plaintiffs under the Act. In a case where the decedent has no spouse, parent, or child, a wrongful death claim may be filed by another person who was substantially dependent upon the decedent and was related to the deceased person by blood or by marriage. These plaintiffs are considered secondary beneficiaries, which is why they can only recover if no primary beneficiary exists. Only one wrongful death claim can be filed based on the death of one decedent. Normally, the wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the death of the decedent.

In a wrongful death case, a defendant can, and often will, argue that the decedent is partially at fault for their death. Because Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff may be barred from recovering altogether in a wrongful death case if the decedent is found to have been partially responsible for their death.

Losing a loved one in a Maryland motorcycle or bicycle accident is undeniably tragic. While many cyclists go out every day and return home safe and sound, the sad reality is that one careless mistake on the road—either by the cyclist or someone else—can lead to an immense tragedy. For example, a father and his daughter were recently killed while riding their bicycle home, according to a recent news report. The 61-year-old man had picked up his 13-year-old daughter from a friend’s house, and they were riding back home with the girl on the handlebars of the bike. As they were crossing a road, they were struck by a Dodge Dart and thrown from the bicycle. Both died from their injuries.

This case illustrates how quickly multiple lives can change when an accident occurs. While riding a bicycle or motorcycle is a popular form of transportation, it can also be dangerous—those riding may be more prone to death or serious injuries when accidents occur, because they lack the protection of a car’s exterior and are more likely to be thrown onto the road.

When tragic accidents such as the one described above occur and result in a fatality, Maryland law allows the family of the deceased to file a specific type of civil lawsuit called a wrongful death suit. A wrongful death suit seeks damages from the defendant who caused or contributed to the wrongful death of the deceased. In this case, the wrongful death suit would likely be filed against the driver of the Dodge Dart. These suits generally must prove that the defendant was negligent and breached the standard duty of care that a reasonably careful person would adhere to, thus causing the accident. In proving a case, plaintiffs may rely on evidence that the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign, ran a red light, drove while somehow distracted by their phone, or did something else careless that caused the crash.

July has seen some intense weather on the Eastern United States, as severe storms have traveled all across the coast, including Maryland. With the climate changing, severe weather is thought to become more and more common across the United States, and summer rainstorms are just one example. While severe storms can cause a lot of damage to property, power lines, and infrastructure, it is important to recognize that they are also associated with higher rates of Maryland accidents. This is particularly of concern for Maryland motorcyclists—who may be at increased risk when driving in a storm.

For example, a fatal motorcycle accident occurred earlier this month. The accident was caused in part by the severe storms passing over the area. According to a local news report, the accident occurred on a Sunday afternoon. The motorcyclist had decided to park beneath an overpass to stay dry and wait out the storm. However, another vehicle tragically lost control in the severe weather and hit the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist died, and there is no publicly available information on the status of the driver who hit him.

The tragic accident above shows how quickly a storm can create dangerous driving conditions, and how quickly those conditions can lead to a fatal crash. One of the biggest concerns for motorcyclists driving in Maryland is visibility. Because motorcyclists are smaller than the typical vehicle on the road, there may be times when other cars or trucks are unaware of them while passing or merging, causing a deadly crash. This is especially of concern when weather conditions result in reduced visibility. Rain, hail, sleet, or snow can all interfere with a driver’s visibility. Sometimes, they may not see the motorcyclist at all, or until it’s too late. Additionally, intense weather conditions can make it difficult to swerve to avoid an accident or even stay straight on the road. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries due to their relative lack of protection and barriers between them and the road or other vehicles.

Motorcyclists injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident are entitled by state law to file a civil negligence suit against whoever they believe caused the accident. These lawsuits, if successful, can result in an accident victim obtaining compensation for their pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, lost wages and more. Unlike criminal lawsuits, the purpose of personal injury lawsuits is to make the plaintiff whole, not to punish the defendant, and so damages typically only cover the amount of harm the plaintiff actually suffered.

In rare cases, a court may allow punitive damages, which are additional damages awarded to the plaintiffs in order to “punish” the defendant for particularly egregious behavior. Punitive damages are rare, and only appropriate in cases where the defendant’s conduct was especially wanton and malicious, rather than just negligent.

For an example of a case that might result in punitive damages, take a recent tragic motorcycle accident that sent a couple to the hospital with severe injuries. According to a local news report covering the incident, a couple on a motorcycle was hit from behind by a black Jeep, throwing them from the motorcycle and onto the road. The couple suffered severe injuries and were taken to the hospital. The driver of the motorcycle had his head split open in two places and will have to learn to walk again after breaking his leg and ankle. His girlfriend and passenger suffered internal bleeding, a broken leg, a broken arm, and now has to wear a neck brace.

A statute of limitations is a law that prescribes a period of time in which a certain type of legal claim must be filed. Statues of limitations may be longer or short depending in the type of claim. For instance, for medical malpractice claims, the claim must be filed within the earlier of five years of the date of injury or within three years of the date the injury was discovered. The purpose of statutes of limitations is to limit the ability to bring a suit indefinitely in order to provide fairness and predictability for potential defendants. In a Maryland motorcycle crash case, generally there is a three-year statute of limitations. This three-year statute of limitations applies in both personal injury cases and in wrongful death cases in Maryland.

In general, an accident victim cannot file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed. However, there are exceptions to late filings in some cases. First, the clock generally starts when the injury or death occurred—but not always. For example, if an injury could not reasonably have been discovered, the statute of limitations may not start until the injury reasonably should have been discovered. An exception may also apply if the injured person was incapacitated and unable to file a claim. After a crash, it is important to have a potential Maryland personal injury claim evaluated by a Maryland personal injury attorney to assess whether another person or entity may be responsible for your injuries, as well as to verify the applicable statute of limitations and whether an exception may apply.

Maryland Army National Guard Solider Dies in Motorcycle Crash

A Maryland Army National Guard solider was killed in a recent off-duty crash in Owings Mills, Maryland, as reported by one news source. According to police, the solider was riding on his motorcycle southbound on a boulevard when he lost control of his bike. He was thrown from his motorcycle and hit by a vehicle traveling northbound on the same road. He was transported to a local hospital where he later died. At this point, it is unclear why the motorcyclist lost control of the bike, and why the motorist was unable to avoid hitting the biker. The accident is still under investigation.

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Last month, tragedy struck in Maryland as a 77-year-old cyclist died after crashing into a turning Jeep in Severna Park. According to a local news report covering the incident, the cyclist was riding east on Shore Road when the driver of the Jeep, a 47-year-old man, tried to turn right into his driveway. The cyclist was riding behind the Jeep and smashed into the side of it, causing severe injuries. At the scene of the crash, paramedics took the victim to Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and he was brought to the Shock Trauma Center. Unfortunately, he died shortly after. This incident sheds light on the risks bicyclists and motorcyclists face in Maryland.

Tragic incidents like this are unfortunately not all that uncommon in Maryland. Every year in Maryland, an average of 816 bicycle crashes occur per year, 80 percent of which result in injury or death. Motorcycle accidents are also far too common, with an average of 276 individuals seriously injured and 70 individuals killed in these accidents every year. One of the reasons these accidents are so concerning and damaging is because of the lack of protection around a cyclist’s body. Unlike those driving in cars or trucks, who may be protected from direct impact with another vehicle or the road, cyclists have no barrier between their bodies and the road or other vehicles. For this reason, a crash involving a bicycle or motorcycle may end up being more serious and more deadly than a crash between two cars.

Those driving bicycles and motorcycles should be sure to take precautionary steps and be as safe as possible on the road. All cyclists should wear protective gear such as helmets, which can be the difference between life and death when a crash occurs. Additionally, cyclists (as well as all drivers, regardless of the vehicle) should always drive while sober and avoid intoxicated driving, which increases the chance for injury. Lastly, cyclists should avoid swerving in and out between lanes of traffic and cars and trucks on the road. Doing so increases the chances that they may be hit while a car merges or switches lanes. Those driving cars and trucks can also do their part to reduce cyclist accidents as well. Staying vigilant and attentive while driving, to ensure that they are aware of all others on the road, can go a long way in preventing accidents and saving lives.

Although bicycles are a popular form of transportation in Maryland, bike accidents can cause devastating injuries or even death. While many cyclists ride every day without getting in an accident, crashes with other negligent drivers can occur out of the blue and cause significant damage, especially since cyclists have minimal protection compared to drivers in cars or trucks. When these accidents occur, injured victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident. This typically, although not always, is the other driver involved in the crash. To win these personal injury suits, plaintiffs usually must prove that the other driver was negligent and that their negligence led to the accident. However, sometimes defendants can be difficult and refuse to cooperate in the suit, further frustrating the plaintiff’s recovery efforts.

For example, take the recent tragic case of a 16-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a car when riding his bike in April of this year. According to local news reports covering the story, the boy was riding his bike and attempting to cross in the crosswalk when a car entered the intersection, hitting him with the front driver’s side. The cyclist hit the front of the car, rolling onto the windshield, and then fell onto the sidewalk. He died later that day.

The victim’s family seemingly wanted to file a personal injury suit against the driver, which would likely require information from the defendant stored electronically on his car—including the speed of the vehicle, brake application, seat belt use, airbag deployment, and the steering angle. Typically, in a civil lawsuit, there is a “discovery” phase where this information may come to light. However, the driver refused to allow investigators to inspect the car. Because of this refusal, the family, plaintiffs in this case, first had to file a different lawsuit demanding access to the vehicle. According to this initial suit, the information located on the car was critical to the plaintiffs’ claim and also was at risk of being destroyed or erased by the defendant. The plaintiffs also alleged that this information was especially important because there were no eyewitnesses to the accident who could testify as to what happened.

According to a local news report, a woman was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident as she approached an intersection where a vehicle was stopped in a turn lane. The vehicle then moved into the path of the motorcycle, which resulted in the cyclist hitting the car. When officers arrived, they found the woman on the ground in the intersection. The victim was in life-threatening condition and later passed away at the hospital. Although this incident occurred in another state, similar accidents involving motorcycles claim lives every day in Maryland. In the wake of these tragedies, Maryland law allows families to file wrongful death lawsuits against responsible parties in the accident.

These cases allow for loved ones to seek relief for their harm, and Maryland law grants independent authority for spouses, parents, and children of the deceased to bring action against those accountable for the accident. Additionally, state law dictates that if the deceased did not have a surviving spouse, child, or parent, individuals related to the deceased through blood or marriage and those who were substantially dependent on the victim may also have grounds to sue.

Wrongful death lawsuits can provide the means for families to recover significant monetary damages. In Maryland, a variety of types of damages are recoverable. Following the loss of a loved one, finances can really add up – medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and property damage can be overwhelming and burdensome for families who are still recovering emotionally. However, wrongful death claims could assist in alleviating the burden for you and loved ones, and potential damages for pain and suffering could pave way for continued healing and recovery of those mourning the deceased.

In a trial following a Maryland motorcycle crash, a non-expert witness is limited in the testimony they are allowed to provide in court. Non-expert witnesses, or lay witnesses, are those not testifying as experts—because they have not been qualified by the court as experts. Under Maryland Rule 5-701, a lay witness may testify in the form of an opinion or an inference only when the opinion or inference is “rationally based on the perception of the witness,” and the testimony is “helpful to a clear understanding of the witness’s testimony or the determination of a fact in issue.” A lay witness may not provide an opinion that is based upon specialized knowledge, training, or experience, because the witness must be qualified as an expert to do so. Generally, a court has significant discretion to admit lay witness or expert witness opinion.

In a recent case before a state appellate court, the court considered whether several non-expert witnesses should have been allowed to testify about the speed of a motorcycle before a crash. In that case, a motorcyclist was riding his motorcycle when he crashed with another vehicle. The motorcyclist died as a result of his injuries, and his family filed a wrongful death claim and a negligence claim against the two occupants of the other vehicle. The case went to trial and the jury found in favor of the defendants.

On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the court should not have allowed the witnesses at trial to estimate the speed of the motorcycle. During the trial, several witnesses who heard the crash testified that just before the crash, the motorcyclist was driving fast, and was going about 80 to 100 miles per hour based on the sound of the motorcycle’s engine. A police officer who heard the crash also estimated that the motorcyclist was driving between 60 and 80 miles per hour before the crash.

When someone is injured or killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident, either the injury victim or their loved ones can bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the responsible party or parties. To establish liability, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant violated a duty of care that they owed to the accident victim, and that the defendant’s breach of that duty was the cause of the accident victim’s injury or death. This is the legal definition of negligence.

Even in situations where a defendant is negligent, the plaintiff may still run into problems pursing a claim for compensation. For example, under the Maryland doctrine of contributory negligence, an accident victim who shares responsibility in causing an accident cannot recover for their injuries. This is the case even if the accident victim is found to be just five or ten percent at fault. Maryland insurance companies routinely rely on principles of contributory negligence when looking for reasons to deny an insured’s claim. For this reason, it is crucial that accident victims or their family members work with an experienced Maryland motorcycle accident attorney who is familiar with the doctrine of contributory negligence and how to minimize any possible role an accident victim played in bringing about the accident resulting in their injuries or death.

Man Killed in Maryland Motorcycle Accident on Crain Highway

Earlier this month, one man was killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident when a minivan changed lanes, colliding with the motorcyclist. According to a local news report, both the motorcyclist and the minivan were heading southbound on Crain Highway just north of Capitol Raceway Road. As the minivan began to move over into the left-turn lane, it did not see that the motorcyclist was already occupying the lane.

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