If you’ve spent much time on a motorcycle, you know that one of the most dangerous traffic situations for riders involves left-hand turns. While there is no data indicating the number of Maryland motorcycle accidents that involve left turns, the number is significant. While riders injured in a motorcycle collision are entitled to bring a personal injury claim for damages after an accident, there are often complicated issues presented by left-turn motorcycle accidents.

Why Are Left-Hand Turns So Dangerous?

Left-hand turns are dangerous for all drivers, but especially motorcyclists. Not only that, but these turns present a hazard both when a motorcycle is making the left turn as well as when they are traveling straight through an intersection approaching another vehicle that is making a left.

When a motorist makes a left turn at an intersection, they must yield the right-of-way to the oncoming vehicle. This much is common knowledge. However, both riders and drivers of cars and trucks tend to get confused once the light turns yellow. For the motorist in the intersection waiting to make a left turn, there is certainly a sense of urgency to complete the turn and get out of the intersection. However, until the light turns red, the left-turning motorist must continue to yield to any vehicles traveling straight.

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Collisions with animals are common in Maryland and can be dangerous for everyone on the road. Motorcyclists and their passengers are especially at risk of injury or death in the event of a collision with a large or small animal that causes the bike to go out of control. A recent motorcycle-animal collision involving a deer led to the tragic deaths of a rider and his passenger.

According to a local news article discussing the accident, the motorcycle rider was traveling on a roadway in a sparsely populated area at night when a deer ran out into the road in front of the motorcycle. The rider was unable to avoid colliding with the deer and he and a passenger were thrown off the bike after the motorcycle struck the animal and cut it in half. When authorities arrived on the scene, both the rider and his passenger were pronounced dead. The article does not state whether the two deceased people were wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

In the event of a Maryland motorcycle accident, a collision with an animal is not covered by insurance in the same way as collisions involving other vehicles. The property damage to a bike from an animal collision would not be covered by standard collision coverage, and a motorcycle owner would need to obtain comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to a vehicle caused by something other than a collision with another vehicle (this could also include damage caused by vandalism, theft, or a flood, for example). Injuries or deaths that occur as a result of a motorcycle colliding with an animal will be covered under a liability policy for bodily injury, in a similar manner to other types of collisions.

Earlier this month, the criminal case associated with a December 2020 fatal bicycle accident we wrote about on this blog came to a close when the defendant was sentenced to 40 years in prison. While the crash and case did not occur in Maryland, the experiences of the loved one and the subsequent legal consequences for the defendant are applicable to the Maryland bicycle crashes that happen almost every day.

According to the New York Times, the original accident occurred on the morning of December 10 when the 45-year-old man driving a truck under the influence of methamphetamine crashed into a group of cyclists. The cyclists were part of a larger group taking part in an annual 130-mile ride. Five of them died on the highway as a result of the crash, and several others were injured. The deceased were identified as a 39-year-old woman and four men, aged 41, 48, 57, and 57. The driver was initially charged with five counts of driving under the influence resulting in death, and other assorted charges, which could have resulted in a sentence of more than 100 years in prison. But the defendant reached a deal with prosecutors and pled guilty to two counts of driving under the influence resulting in death instead.

The New York Times reported on the significant pain and grief the relatives of the victims experienced as a result of losing their loved ones. For example, one widow told the judge in the case that she still kept her husband’s ashes in an urn on a dresser next to her bed and his toothbrush and razor on the bathroom sink, unable to handle the pain of removing any of it. Other relatives are similarly dealing with the grief, and surviving cyclists are having to work through the trauma of the experience—and seeing their friends killed—in addition to recovering physically from their injuries. Because of the sheer amount of pain this accident caused, many individuals may wonder if the criminal sentence actually does anything to help the families recover from this devastating loss.

From early childhood, people learn the importance of wearing helmets when riding a bicycle or motorcycle. While the risks of riding a motorcycle without a helmet are widely recognized, many people continue to ride motorcycles without an appropriate helmet. Although helmets cannot prevent a Maryland motorcycle accident, they can reduce the likelihood of serious injuries and death.

There are many reasons some motorcyclists choose not to wear protective gear, and the reasons may include vanity, overconfidence, and discomfort. A significant number of motorcycle accidents occur on shorter trips, thus making it even more critical that riders wear helmets on every trip. Wearing protective gear can significantly reduce the likelihood of severe and long-lasting injuries and death.

In addition to the health and safety benefit, motorcyclists should wear helmets to ensure that they do not receive a citation for violating Maryland’s helmet laws. Section 21-1306 of the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code (Code) gives the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MVACS) the authority to create helmet safety standards. Under the Code, motorcycle helmets must have a chin or neck strap that fastens when the motorcycle is moving MVACS has additional standards that motorcyclists must comply with. Moreover, the United States Department of Transportation advises that motorcycle helmets fit tightly and have a safety certification. While motorcyclists who violate these standards may receive a citation and fine, evidence of helmet use cannot be used as evidence of contributory negligence, which means that a motorcyclist’s helmet use will not impact their likelihood of recovery in a personal injury lawsuit.

Under Maryland case law, courts will impose a presumption of negligence on a rear driver in cases where that driver strikes a vehicle that is stopped in front of them. The presumption allows the fact-finder (either the judge or the jury) to infer that the driver of the rear vehicle was negligent. Maryland rear-end collisions and “fender bender” accidents are the most frequently occurring type of collision in the state. Despite the rate of occurrence, these accidents can result in serious physical and property damage.

Accident reconstructionists explain that rear-ending a stopped vehicle can be the equivalent of hitting a concrete wall at half the speed the moving car was traveling. In an effort to reduce the severity of these accidents, Maryland traffic law § 21-310(a)(2005 mandates that motorists should not follow another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent.” Further, the statute explains that motorists should have regard for the speed of the vehicles around them and the highway’s condition.

Although the law permits the presumption of negligence in a rear-end accident, there are some cases where the accident was not the rear driver’s fault. For example, a recent news report described a motorcycle collision where it is unclear who was at fault. The preliminary investigation revealed that a motorcycle driver was traveling north when he hit the back of a sedan. The motorcyclist died at the accident scene, and the sedan driver and passenger did not suffer any injuries. Police state that an investigation of the accident is continuing.

Motorcycles are a great way to get around, especially during this time of year. However, hopping on a bike also carries its fair share of risks. Motorcycles don’t offer rides the same protection as other vehicles and, not surprisingly, serious injuries are very common in Maryland motorcycle accidents.

Not only are motorcycle accidents more serious than accidents involving other vehicles, but they also happen more frequently. Due to the smaller profile of motorcycles, many drivers have a hard time noticing a rider, and, even if they do, they may have a more difficult time assessing their speed. This is one reason why left-turn motorcycle accidents are so common – drivers misjudge the speed of an oncoming motorcyclist and cut them off.

Recently, a motorcycle accident in Mechanicsville, MD, resulted in a rider suffering serious injuries. According to a local news report, the accident occurred at 6:35 p.m. on Memorial Day near the 27000 block of Three Notch Road, in the area of Old Village Road.

Online shopping is one of the most lucrative streams of commerce in the United States. The steady increase in online shopping options combined with competition for quick delivery turnarounds has made the presence of delivery trucks ubiquitous throughout the United States. However, the demand has led to an increase in truck congestion and Maryland delivery truck accidents. After the United States Postal Service, FedEx is the next largest delivery company in America. In most cases, these large delivery companies take steps to ensure the safety of their fleet and the training of their drivers. However, consumer demand in conjunction with company expectations makes accidents an inevitable consequence of modern-day shopping.

For example, recent news reports described a catastrophic accident between a FedEx delivery truck and a motorcyclist. According to witness and police accounts, the motorcyclist was traveling east when a westbound delivery truck turned left into the biker’s bath. The motorcycle slammed into the front of the truck, ejecting the biker from his motorcycle. The delivery truck driver did not suffer physical injuries, but the motorcyclist remains in the hospital in critical condition.

The aftermath of these accidents largely depends on the type of delivery truck involved in the accident. FedEx maintains a variety of vehicles in its fleet, including small trucks, truck tractors-, trailers, and vans. In addition to small parcels and letters, these vans often transport household items, building supplies, machinery, agricultural supplies, and food items. When these trucks are involved in an accident, their cargo may become dislodged, posing a potentially serious health and safety risk to those in its vicinity.

Motorcycle crashes often result in severe injuries, and the aftermath can be overwhelming for Maryland motorcycle accident victims. However, there are time limits for filing lawsuits in Maryland, and a victim has to have time to gather evidence and prepare a claim. One consideration after a crash is whether an expert is required in the case.

An expert is not required in every case but may be necessary in some cases and very useful in others. Maryland courts have explained that expert testimony can be admitted if the court determines that the testimony will help the trier of fact (such as a jury) understand the evidence or decide a fact at issue in the case. A court will require expert testimony in cases where an issue is outside the common knowledge of a layperson. The expert also must be qualified to testify as an expert. Under Maryland court rules, a witness can testify if the witness’s knowledge, experience, education, skill, or training qualify the witness as an expert, the expert testimony is appropriate, and there is a sufficient factual basis for the testimony.

In a lawsuit after a Maryland motorcycle crash, an expert might not be necessary in a case where a driver was not looking at their phone and failing to keep their eyes on the road. However, an expert might be required, for example, to explain how a part malfunctioned on a motorcycle or how the crash caused the plaintiff’s alleged injuries. Under the civil procedure rules in Maryland, a party may require another party to identify any experts that are expected to be called at trial, to summarize their findings and opinions, and provide any written expert reports.

The unexpected death of a loved one is devastating. Although nothing can bring a loved one back, a wrongful death claim may allow certain family members to hold wrongful actors responsible for their actions and to recover financial losses after a Maryland motorcycle crash. In Maryland, a wrongful death claim generally can be filed by a spouse, parent, or child of the victim. A spouse, parent, or child is considered a “primary” plaintiff for the filing of a wrongful death claim. In cases in which the victim has no spouse, parent, or child who qualifies to bring a claim, a wrongful death claim may be brought by any family member who is related to the victim by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the victim. These individuals are considered to be “secondary” plaintiffs for the filing of a wrongful death claim—meaning that they can only file the claim if no primary plaintiff exists. There are also circumstances in which a certain family member may not qualify to bring a claim. Only one wrongful death claim may be filed based on the death of the victim.

A wrongful death claim is intended to compensate family members for their losses based on the victim’s death. It also provides an avenue for family members to hold others responsible for their wrongful actions. Generally, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the victim’s death. If the victim’s death was caused by an occupational disease, the claim must be filed within ten years of the victim’s death or within three years of the date when the cause of the victim’s death was discovered, whichever comes first.

Defendants in wrongful death cases will often argue that the victim was at least partially responsible for the victim’s death. In Maryland, recovery may be barred if a defendant is successful in proving that the victim was partially at fault. This means that family members often have to defend against such claims in addition to proving the defendant’s fault.

Left turns are generally made without any issue, but they are actually quite dangerous for Maryland motorcyclists. In fact, about one-fifth of all crashes in the United States are caused during a left turn, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Even more alarming, in 42 percent of all fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, the other vehicle was making a left turn while the motorcyclist was going straight, passing, or overtaking another vehicle, according to statistics from the NHTSA in 2013. This type of tragic left turn accident occurred last week, killing the motorcyclist in the crash.

According to one news source, the motorcyclist was killed in the left-turn crash with a truck. A preliminary investigation by local law enforcement indicated that the 21-year-old truck driver was attempting to make a left turn and crashed into the motorcyclist as the motorcyclist was driving straight in the opposite direction. Police are continuing to investigate the crash and no charges have been filed yet. The 46-year-old motorcyclist had been riding a 2003 Harley Davidson and died at the scene of the crash.

Left turns are dangerous because drivers have to decide a number of things in a short period of time, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The NHTSA advises drivers to make sure to take the time to look in one’s rear and side-view mirrors and to wait until drivers can see around any obstructions and to scan the roadway for all users, including pedestrians and motorcyclists, who can be hard to see. The NHTSA reports that 41% of all motorcycle crashes are due to drivers reportedly failing to see motorcycles. Drivers may be distracted or it may be that weather, signage, or other parties played a role in the crash. Drivers may also have been under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or medication. There are a number of factors and assigning blame and liability for the crash can be complicated in a personal injury lawsuit.

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