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While every accident is different, generally speaking Maryland motorcycle accidents often result in very serious injuries. In most cases, a motorist who causes a motorcycle accident will not have the financial means necessary to pay for the damages sustained in the crash. This is why it is so auto insurance is so important.

Maryland law requires that all motorists maintain a certain amount of insurance on their vehicle to compensate anyone who may be injured as a result of the driver’s negligence. In Maryland, there are three types of mandatory car insurance:

  • Liability: this coverage compensates those who have been injured as a result of the insured’s negligence
  • Property Damage: this coverage compensates accident victims for the damage to their property caused by the insured’s negligence; and
  • Un/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Protection: this coverage kicks in when another motorist’s liability insurance coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the insured for the injuries they sustained in an accident.

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One of the most frustrating aspects of being involved in a Maryland motorcycle accident is dealing with insurance companies. Vehicle insurance is required in Maryland, and for a good reason. However, unfortunately, insurance companies often make the recovery process harder on accident victims by creating additional stress and anxiety.

After being involved in a Maryland motorcycle accident, accident victims often have sustained serious injuries and have missed time away from work. However, life’s expenses do not stop and, when combined with potentially astronomical medical bills, accident victims find themselves in a difficult financial position. Too often, insurance companies prey upon these vulnerabilities be denying a claim they know that the accident victim will not have time to pursue or offering an accident victim a low-ball settlement offer in hopes of making the case go away.

A recent case illustrates the lengths that insurance companies will go to in an attempt to avoid financial responsibility for an accident.

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For those who are fortunate enough to be awake and sufficiently oriented to know what has just happened, the moments immediately following a Maryland motorcycle accident can be stressful. An accident victim will have almost certainly sustained serious injuries themselves, their motorcycle may not be anywhere near them, and there may also be concern about a passenger. While this is an incredibly stressful and anxiety-producing time, there are a few essential things that all Maryland motorcyclist should keep in mind after an accident.

Seek Medical Treatment

Motorcycle accident victims may not immediately realize that they have sustained serious injuries after an accident. In some cases, adrenaline kicks in and masks pain that would be otherwise intolerable. Some accident victims who sustain a blow to the head may have suffered a concussion or other brain injury. The signs and symptoms of these may not be readily apparent, but may get worse if untreated. Additionally, proof that an accident victim received medical treatment immediately after an accident strengthens their case.

Report the Accident

Calling the police after a Maryland motorcycle accident can help provide an accident victim with an objective account of what the scene of the accident looked like. Police will also obtain all the necessary information from the other drives involved, which will be required for filing a personal injury lawsuit down the road.

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Being involved in any Maryland bicycle accident is often a very traumatic experience. Hit-and-run accidents are no exception. In fact, for several reasons, Maryland hit-and-run accidents are considered by most to be one of the most traumatic types of motorcycle accidents.

A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver is involved in an accident and then leaves the scene before checking to see if anyone else involved in the crash requires medical care. Because the identity of the at-fault motorist is not initially known, accident victims cannot focus solely on their recovery, and must work with law enforcement to help them locate the hit-and-run driver.

Often, police can locate a hit-and-run driver eventually, although that is not always the case. In the event that a Maryland hit-and-run driver is not ever found, an accident victim may still be able to pursue a claim for compensation. However, rather than file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company – as would be the case if the at-fault motorist was known – a hit-and-run accident victim must file a claim with their own insurance company, under the uninsured motorist provision. An experienced Maryland personal injury attorney can help those injured in a hit-and-run accident to pursue a claim.

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Maryland law imposes a duty on landowners to keep their property safe for those whom they invite onto their land. This includes both a duty to remedy any known dangers, as well as a duty to warn visitors about any hazards that may not be readily apparent. However, under Maryland’s recreational use statute, landowners who allow the public to use their land for recreational purposes cannot be held liable by those who are injured on their property as long as the landowner does not charge a fee for the use of their land.

The Maryland recreational use statute is not absolute, and there is an exception for a landowner’s “willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition.” A recent decision issued by a federal appellate court discusses this exception and when it may apply.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was seriously injured in a bicycle accident that occurred on land that was owned and maintained by the Air Force Academy. Evidently, the plaintiff was riding his bike along a bicycle path when he encountered a large sinkhole. The sinkhole spanned the width of the path and, despite its large size, was difficult for riders to see as they approached it.

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Anytime someone gets in a vehicle – whether it be a car, truck or motorcycle – there is a risk of being involved in a Maryland auto accident. While any accident poses a risk of serious injury to those involved, motorcycle accidents result in a disproportionate amount of fatalities due to the lack of protection motorcycles offer riders.

According to the most recent government statistics, there are approximately 1,450 Maryland motorcycle accidents each year. In 2017, there were 85 people killed in Maryland motorcycle accidents. While this may not seem like a high number, consider the fact that there are only about 123,000 motorcycles registered in the State of Maryland compared to almost 2 million cars and trucks.

When someone is killed in a Maryland motorcycle accident, their surviving family members may be able to pursue a claim for financial compensation through a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Under Maryland Code Section 3-904, a wrongful death claim is primarily for the benefit of a surviving spouse, child or parent. These are considered “primary beneficiaries.” If, however, there are no primary beneficiaries, a claim may be brought by “any person related to the deceased person by blood or marriage who was substantially dependent upon the deceased.”

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Maryland is a state that values higher education. Indeed, according to the most recent data, there are over 50 colleges across Maryland. Bicycles have long been the preferred method of travel for budget-conscious college students, especially in colleges and universities in large urban centers such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Thus, it isn’t surprising that many Maryland bicycle accidents occur on or around college campuses.

For the most part, colleges do a good job ensuring that bike travel on campus is safe. This means providing bike lanes, signage, and driver education about the presence of bicyclists and how to safely drive in an area where there is a large population of bicyclists. However, despite these efforts, Maryland bicycle accidents continue to occur.

When a bicyclist is injured in a Maryland bicycle accident, they can pursue a claim for compensation against one or more parties. Generally, this includes the driver that struck them, as well as any other potentially liable party such as the college or university, the driver’s employer, or another motorist that was involved in the collision. However, it is essential that an injured bicyclist understand Maryland’s strict contributory negligence laws and how they can preclude an injured cyclist from recovering for their injuries.

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Over the past couple of years, scooter-share companies have popped up in cities across the United States. A scooter-share is based on the popular dockless bike-share concept, in which someone can rent a bicycle for an hourly fee and then click a button on their phone when they are done using the scooter. Part of the appeal is that renters can locate a scooter on their phone through a GPS device that is installed on the scooter. This also allows users to leave the scooter anywhere they want.

While scooters are not particularly difficult to ride, there is certainly the potential for danger in allowing a large number of scooters to share the already crowded roads in Baltimore. Of course, scooter use is regulated, and riders are subject to a 15 mph speed limit on roads with a speed limit under 30 mph. On larger roads with a higher speed limit, scooters are permitted to drive on the sidewalk, but must travel below six mph. This also raises the concern of scooter-pedestrian accidents.

Not surprisingly, since the inception of the scooter-share program in Baltimore, there has been an increase in the number of Maryland scooter accidents. According to a recent news report, Baltimore lawmakers have had enough of these scooter accidents, many of which have been linked to uninitiated operators traveling at unsafe speeds.

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As we continue to shifts toward being a more environmentally aware society, more and more people are relying on bicycles as a primary source of transportation. Indeed, many of the large cities across Maryland and Virginia are in the process of making their streets more bike-friendly by installing additional signage, widening roads, and creating bicycle lanes. These efforts go a long way in reducing the number of Maryland bicycle accidents; however, the risks are still present.

When it comes to determining who is at fault in a Maryland bicycle accident, the legal doctrine of negligence applies. Thus, a bicycle accident victim can pursue a claim against any party who violated a duty of care that was owed the bicyclist, so long as that party’s conduct was a contributing factor in causing the accident.

Certainly, in some Maryland bicycle accidents determining potentially negligent parties is a simple task. However, accident victims should be aware that there may be additional parties who could be held liable. For example, if an accident was caused in part by a poorly maintained road, the local government responsible for maintaining the road may be a potential defendant. Maryland accident victims should note, however, that cases naming government entities as defendants must comply with certain additional procedural requirements.

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It is often said that over 95% of all cases are resolved through some kind of settlement agreement. Thus, it is almost a certainty that an accident victim will be made at least one offer to settle their case before it reaches trial. Settlement negotiations are consequently an essential part of a Maryland motorcycle case, even if the agreement is not accepted.

There are several reasons why so many cases settle. Primarily, it is because insurance companies are the ones defending most personal injury cases. Insurance companies are for-profit companies and, because of the nature of their business, they prefer to know what their exposure will be. That being the case, if an insurance company can settle a case for a known dollar amount, it may be willing to do so to avoid taking the case to trial and the possibility of a much larger verdict.

While this sounds reasonable in theory, in practice insurance companies tend to prey upon the desperation and suffering of accident victims. Many accident victims do not know the ins and outs of the insurance business, and by approaching accident victims at a very vulnerable time, insurance companies hope to settle claims for far less than they may be worth. A recent article discusses a motorcycle accident victim’s decision to turn down a settlement offer and take the case to trial. Of course, each case is different, and injury victims should only decide what to do with their claim after consulting with a dedicated Maryland motorcycle accident attorney.

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