Causation is a necessary element in any Maryland motorcycle crash case alleging the negligence of another party. An essential part is proving that the other party’s actions caused the plaintiff’s damages, which means both proving a cause-in-fact and a legally cognizable cause. Proving a cause-in-fact means proving that the other party’s actions were the actual cause of the damages, whereas legal cause means proving that the defendant’s actions were sufficiently related to the damages to hold the party liable. This inquiry often requires a consideration of whether the plaintiff’s damages were a foreseeable result of the party’s actions. Even if another party’s actions are proven to be the cause-in-fact of the plaintiff’s damages, a court may still find the party is not liable because it is not fair or because it is bad policy.

In addition to proving causation, in a negligence case, a plaintiff still has to prove that the party owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the defendant’s actions amounted to a breach of the relevant standard of care, and the plaintiff suffered damages. A plaintiff has to prove all elements in a negligence claim, and must prove each element by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that a plaintiff must prove what caused the crash, rather than proving only that another party’s actions were merely a possible cause of the crash.

Motorcycle Driver Killed After Crash with Debris

Maryland motorcyclists and all other drivers must exercise reasonable care at any time that they are on the road. At times, a driver’s lack of care goes beyond simple negligence. Under Maryland law, gross negligence refers to willful and wanton misconduct, which is considered as something more than simple negligence, and closer to reckless conduct. Gross negligence signifies conduct “in reckless disregard of the consequences” and the actor’s lack of concern for the effect on another person’s life or property. It also suggests a disregard of the consequences without any attempts to avoid them. Whether gross negligence was committed is fact-specific and is generally a question for a jury. A recent case is an example of a situation in which one state appeals court found that gross negligence may have resulted in a motorcycle crash.

According to the court’s opinion, a raceway obtained a license from a racing federation to hold federation-sanctioned motorcycle events. An association managed operations for the raceway. To control erosion, the association placed unmarked sandbags around the raceway. The association did not have any staff with experience or training in track safety, and the placement of sandbags violated federation standards. The plaintiff was competing in a motorcycle racing event and lost control of his motorcycle. He entered the safety zone, collided with the sandbags, and suffered serious injuries. He was not warned of the sandbags, which were the same color as the track.

The plaintiff filed a claim that alleged that the association was liable for gross negligence and that the county was liable for a dangerous condition of public property. After a trial court dismissed the claim, a state court of appeals reversed. The appeals court found that it might have been grossly negligent for the association to divert money to operations instead of erosion protection and to rely on the assessments of an executive with no track safety training. In addition, the raceway association could be found liable for a dangerous condition.

Maryland drivers are at risk of getting into an accident because of something that they may not even be able to see:  ice. As the weather gets colder, roads are more likely to ice over, which can cause cars, trucks, bicyclists, or even pedestrians to slip and slide. Ice also can potentially cause a serious Maryland motorcycle accident. Ice on the roads, which can be present even if it’s not freezing cold outside, stops tires from getting a good grip, reducing even a skilled driver’s ability to steer and stop.

Weather conditions involving ice, snow, and freezing rain are some of the most dangerous conditions for Maryland residents. In fact, icy roads are responsible for more than twice as many fatalities each year as tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, and severe thunderstorms combined.

For example, a doctor was recently killed when he wiped out on a patch of ice while riding his bicycle. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the doctor, a 50-year-old pediatrician, was riding his bike at around 8:40 in the morning when the bike slipped on ice, causing him to fall. Unfortunately, he fell right in front of a school bus full of children, which hit and killed him. The driver and passengers of the bus were unharmed. The accident brought attention to the dangers posed by ice on the roadways.

A college student recently made headlines for inventing a helmet that may reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths that result from motorcycle accidents. According to a local news report, a 21-year-old student was inspired to design the helmet—called ConTekt—when his friend got into a motorcycle accident. After the crash, his friend couldn’t move and thus couldn’t reach his phone to call for help. The motorcyclist’s position on the highway made him invisible to other motorists, and he lay there injured, unsure of what to do. ConTekt aims to solve this problem; the helmet uses technology to contact 911 the moment that the wearer hits the ground, giving accident victims “a lifeline without risking any injury by moving.”

Uehara is on his way to producing the helmet for retail. Earlier this year, the invention won first prize at the University of Hawaii’s Breakthrough Innovation Challenge. The prize money, $2,000, will help Uehara obtain a patent for the helmet and develop a prototype. A cost analysis led him to predict that the helmet will retail around $700, which is less than the average for a similar quality helmet.

The helmet, once finalized, can help address the dangers that motorcyclists face every day. Motorcyclists are overrepresented in traffic fatalities, and their lack of protection compared to cars and trucks makes them uniquely susceptible to serious injuries when accidents occur. Helmets in general, even without the ability to call 911, can play an important role in protecting motorcyclists’ skulls and brains from traumatic injuries. In fact, Maryland has recognized the importance of helmets, and state law requires helmet use.

Although many people take left turns every day without issue, left turns can be a factor in many Maryland motorcycle accidents. Left turns have been a subject of research in recent years, including a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). In that study, the NHTSA found that in 22.2 percent of crashes studied, the critical pre-crash event was turning left. Turning right accounted for only 1.2 percent of crashes. One study carried out in New York City found that left turns were three times as likely to produce a serious injury or fatality compared to right turns, and left turns were twice as likely to cause a pedestrian or bicyclist fatality compared to right turns. According to that study, 108 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed by left-turning vehicles during a four-year period.

According to the senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, left turns are difficult because drivers have to make a number of decisions within a short period of time. Left turns are also particularly dangerous for pedestrians, since they have a walk light at the same time that a turning driver has a green light. Another researcher explained that the front piece of the car’s frame can obstruct pedestrians from view. The New York City study also found that the wide turn radius involved in left turns makes them more dangerous because it leads to higher speeds and exposes pedestrians more.

Left turns are also particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. According to statistics from the NHTSA, in 2013, there were 2,182 fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. In 922 of these cases (42 percent), the other vehicle was making a left turn while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking another vehicle.

In the tragic event of the death of a family member, a wrongful death claim may allow family members to recover compensation for the loss they suffered. Under Maryland’s Wrongful Death Act, a claim can be filed by certain family members against the parties at fault for the family member’s death. The Wrongful Death Act is intended to compensate family members of the decedent based on the losses suffered by the family members.

It is common for defendants in Maryland wrongful death claims to raise the fault of the victim as a defense. Maryland follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means that if a plaintiff is found to have been even the slightest bit negligent, the plaintiff is completely barred from recovery. Similarly, a person’s contributory negligence bars recovery of a subsequent wrongful death claim.

Another common issue is proving the elements of negligence in the absence of the victim’s testimony. Without the victim’s statement concerning what happened, families often have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove the case. This often requires the assistance of experts and investigators. A plaintiff has the burden to prove all the elements of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence, including whether the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Mere speculation cannot sustain a negligence claim. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s conduct failed to meet the standard of care, that the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s injuries, that the injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct, and that the plaintiff suffered injuries.

Earlier this year, the City of Baltimore approved four companies to operate scooter shares in the city: Lime, Jump, Spin, and Bolt. According to a news report at the time, the city selected these four companies out of the seven companies that applied for permits. Scooter shares are growing in popularity in Maryland and across the United States, especially in urban settings. Currently, scooter shares are located in well over 100 cities across the country. However, some are concerned that the presence of a scooter-share will drastically increase the number of Maryland scooter accidents.

A scooter share is a service that provides users the ability to rent an electric scooter on a short-term basis. While the concept is somewhat similar to bike shares in that users can pick up and drop off the scooters at whatever location is convenient for them, scooter shares are unique in that they are dockless. This means that they can be left anywhere, and users can open up the company’s app to locate the nearest scooter. The companies pay individuals to locate and charge scooters at their homes or businesses, keeping overhead costs low.

By allowing four scooter-share companies to operate, Baltimore seemingly embraces the scooter-share concept. To be sure, electric scooters provide a convenient way for many commuters and tourists to get around. They also do little to contribute to traffic and pollution, and are seen by many as an excellent supplement to public transit for those not within walking distance of a bus stop or train station. However, scooter shares also present some valid concerns.

While there are many causes of Maryland motorcycle accidents, accidents involving another vehicle making a left turn into or in front of a motorcycle are among the most common. In most cases, these accidents are the result of a negligent motorist who fails to take notice of the motorcycle or accurately gauge the speed at which it is approaching. Indeed, experts estimate that roughly 40 percent of all motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle are due to the vehicle making a left turn. Maryland left-turn motorcycle accidents result in hundreds of injuries each year, most of which are entirely preventable.

Most left-turn accidents are the result of a driver not accurately being able to assess the speed of an oncoming motorcycle. Motorists are used to driving around other cars and trucks, and have a built-in sense of how quickly these vehicles move. Thus, most of the time, motorists can safely assess the speed of an oncoming car or truck and determine whether they have enough time to complete their left turn. However, the slim profile of a motorcycle challenges motorists’ assumptions because motorcycles often appear to be approaching more slowly than they are.

Another cause of left-turn motorcycle accidents is a driver’s failure to notice an oncoming motorcycle. Again, due to their slim profile, motorcycles may go unnoticed when approaching an intersection. In this situation, motorists may think they have a clear intersection when they do not. Regardless of the cause, left-turn motorcycle accidents are most often the fault of the turning motorist, as vehicles making left turns must yield the right-of-way to those going straight through an intersection. However, if a motorcyclist is speeding as he travels through the intersection, that may result in the motorcyclist losing the right-of-way, essentially making the accident their fault.

The doctrine of sovereign immunity protects state and local governments from many lawsuits. In cases against the state, in order for a Maryland motorcycle injury claim to go forward in court, the government has to specifically waive immunity for such a claim. Sovereign immunity protects not only the state, but also its employees as long as they are acting in their official capacity and their actions are without malice or gross negligence.

Local governments, such as cities as counties are also generally protected by immunity. However, unlike the state government, under Maryland law, local governments only benefit from immunity when they perform governmental functions, as opposed to proprietary functions. Courts have held that governmental functions are those that are sanctioned by the legislature, are solely for the benefit of the public, and have no element of private interest. Other courts have stated that the distinction is between acts that are performed for the common good as opposed to those that are done for the benefit or profit of a corporation.

For example, the operation and maintenance of public parks, swimming pools, and police forces are normally considered governmental functions, and thus are protected under immunity. However, whether a function is governmental or proprietary is often not clear, and has been the subject of much litigation.

Maryland’s recreational use statute (RUS) is designed to encourage property owners to make their land available to the public for educational and recreational use by limiting the property owner’s liability in certain circumstances. Maryland’s RUS can pose significant challenges to individuals that suffer injuries while visiting recreational properties. Under this statute, landowners that make their land available for recreational use do not owe their visitors a duty of care to keep their land safe or provide them warnings. In effect, landowners in these cases owe their visitors the same level of care that they would owe a trespasser. This means that landowners in these situations must only refrain from willful or wanton behavior that may hurt the visitor.

For example, in a recent opinion, an state appellate court addressed the defendant’s claim of immunity based on the state’s RUS. In that case, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a university after a university employee hit her with a university-owned vehicle. The university argued that, amongst other issues, they were not liable under the RUS. The court found in favor of the university, finding that the RUS applied, and the university only owed her a duty to not engage in bad faith, malicious intent, and gross negligence.

Maryland’s RUS is broad, and injured plaintiffs must understand the impact that their classification has on the outcome of their case. The statute protects owners if they allow visitors on their land for “any recreational purpose.” This means that, for example, if a person suffers injuries at their neighbor’s house while riding their neighbor’s dirt bike, the neighbor may be able to assert the RUS to limit their liability.

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