In August, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report of an investigation into a motor vehicle accident that killed five bicyclists and injured four others. According to the report, nine cyclists in Michigan were riding in a four-foot-wide roadway shoulder when a pickup truck veered off the road and plowed into them from behind. In addition to the report, local news organizations have reported that the driver of the pickup truck is being charged with both second-degree murder and operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating pain medications and muscle relaxants.
The NTSB is a federal agency charged with investigating rail, air, and automobile crashes. According to a recent article, the agency chose to investigate the bicycling accident, due to an uptick in cycling on public roadways. The article also states that in 2013, over 900 bicyclists were killed in cycling accidents, and nearly 500,000 were treated for injuries in hospital emergency rooms. The NTSB last studied crashes involving cyclists in the early 1970s.
Bicycling Accidents on Maryland Roads
In Maryland, motor vehicle drivers owe bicyclists and pedestrians a duty of care while driving. This means that they must drive as a reasonable driver would under the same or similar circumstances. A failure to take such care is called negligence. Drivers who commit negligence may be liable for damages to injured bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers and their passengers.
Over the years, much attention has been paid to drunk driving. More recently, attention has also focused on “drugged driving.” Like drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous and may be used as proof of negligence in accident cases. In drugged driving cases, a driver may be liable for negligence if he or she is under the influence of illegal drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or even prescription medications. Any of these substances can cause a driver to have impaired judgement or decreased reaction time, and many cause drowsiness.
Under Maryland law, when a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other driver is injured by a negligent driver, he may be entitled to compensation, as long as he did not contribute to the accident in any way. In Maryland, there are two types of compensatory damages. Economic damages compensate a person for his out-of-pocket costs, like lost wages, unpaid medical bills, and reduced future earnings. Non-economic damages compensate injured parties for their “pain and suffering,” which includes a reduction or loss of enjoyment in life. If a spouse, child, or parent dies due to another driver’s negligence, he or she may be entitled to compensation for a loss of companionship as well.
As more Americans exercise to improve their health, and still more ride bicycles or walk to work to help save the environment, motor vehicles no longer share the roadways only with other cars. On top of that, many roads with increasing foot or bicycle traffic are not well marked, so many drivers are not aware of bicyclists and pedestrians until it is too late.
Have You or Someone You Love Been Injured By a Motor Vehicle?
When a bicyclist or pedestrian is injured by a car or truck, there is usually some level of carelessness or negligence underlying the accident. Sometimes accidents are complicated, but seasoned attorneys like those at Lebowitz & Mzhen are not intimidated or deterred when it comes to seeking compensation for their clients. The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen care about each and every one of their clients. Our attorneys take their time to get to know their clients in a way that is rare and reassuring. As a result, our clients know that they will be strongly represented in pursuing every penny of the compensation they deserve. For a free consultation, call Lebowitz & Mzhen at (800) 654-1949.
More Blog Posts:
Driver and Passenger Involved in Fatal Motorcycle Crash Apprehended After Attempting to Flee the Scene on Foot, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published September 8, 2016.
Roughly Half of All Motorcycle Accidents Occur at Intersections, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published August 18, 2016.