Articles Posted in Bicycle-Car Accidents

With the number of serious traffic accidents in tens of thousands every year across this nation, it’s surprising that the death rate from car, truck and motorcycle accidents is not higher than it already is. While alcohol and drug use contributes to a vast number of injury- and fatality-related roadway collisions, the percentage of distracted driving incidents has been rising on its own as one of several major factors in modern-day automobile and commercial trucking wrecks.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we understand how even the most innocuous distraction — such as a crying child, spilled coffee or in-car conversation — can draw a driver’s attention away from the task at hand. More than a few motorists and their passengers have been killed thanks to a moments loss of focus on the highway.

While the number and frequency of auto and trucking accidents on our nation’s roads can at times be amazing, it is the actions of police, fire and other emergency personnel that can make the difference between a serious car or truck crash and a fatal one. Part of the response equation can involve the often cited medevac helicopter flights that ferry critically injured victims of traffic accidents from accident scenes all around the country to medical facilities for rapid, and hopefully life-saving treatment.

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As personal injury lawyers representing victims of traffic accidents in Maryland and Washington, D.C., we know that recovering from a serious car, truck or motorcycle wreck involves more than just being treated for severe or life-threatening injuries, but also means facing the possibility of persistent and sometimes chronic pain for months or years after the initial collision.

Nearly anyone who has been severely injured in an automobile or trucking-related traffic collision will likely tell you that the pain associated with certain injuries can continue on, long after the physical wounds have more or less healed. Nerve damage and other medical and neurological complications can make even day-to-day tasks painful and sometimes difficult to complete.

For anyone injured in a car, truck or pedestrian accident, these are concerns that should always be considered when pursuing a personal injury claim against another negligent party. An article published not long ago brought this topic to the fore, if only because it applies to many individuals in similar situations here in Maryland and around the rest of the country.

The report focuses on a Westminster, MD, man who has had to deal with what medical professionals refer to as chronic pain syndrome. Suffering from full-body complex regional pain syndrome, Michael Harris follows a regimen of aquatic therapy exercises, as well as other physical therapies, in an effort to alleviate the pain resulting from complications after an auto accident back in August 2007.

According to the article, Mr. Harris was apparently caught up in a 2007 car wreck when the vehicle in which he was riding was struck from behind by a drunken driver. The crash happened at an intersection along a stretch of Maryland Rte 140. The victim’s vehicle was reportedly stopped at the intersection waiting for a red light when the crash occurred.

As a result of the crash, Harris received several injuries, including a ruptured spinal disc. Some time after the wreck, doctors discovered that a piece of bone was impinging on the nerves in the man’s back, causing significant pain and discomfort. Harris apparently began to experience a number of associated symptoms, including tingling in his arms all the way to his fingertips, as well as numbness in his upper limbs. Unfortunately, these initial symptoms only got worse as time progressed following the car crash.

Subsequent pain throughout the man’s body included severe shooting pains felt all the way down his right leg, plus complaints of a sharp, “burning sensation” in other portions of his anatomy, as well as excessive sweating and changes in body temperature. His legs and hands also experienced swelling and color changes.

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We touched on this in a previous item, but the problem of hit-and-run automobile and commercial truck collisions is nothing to take lightly, especially in urban areas like Annapolis, Frederick and Washington, D.C. The question for more people is why would someone who apparently knows full well that he or she just struck another person with a motor vehicle not stop to lend aid or at the very least call 911 to report the incident and wait at the scene of the crash until the police arrive.

Personal responsibility, or the lack of it, is the underlying issue here. As members of society we all have a responsibility to our neighbors and fellow citizens. Without this basic trait, an individual shows that he may have less of an appreciation for life and the rules of a civilized society than those around him.

Of course, self preservation can be one explanation for running from the scene of a hit-and-run accident, especially one that proves fatal to the victim, but this is not looked upon by the community as a redeeming characteristic; nor does law enforcement or the judicial system find such behavior acceptable. As Baltimore car and motorcycle accident attorneys, as well as Maryland personal injury lawyers, we find it a sad commentary on our modern times when we see so many cases of fatal and near-fatal hit-and-run crashes across this state.

A recent article lists a number of serious traffic accidents that have occurred during the past year in the county. These accidents have killed numerous people and left others seriously injured. There is little excuse for the actions of those responsible, yet the list is bound to get longer as the year comes to an end. We can only hope that the trend my reverse at some point, but that is something no one can predict.

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Here in Baltimore, as in many other cities and towns across the state, car-pedestrian and car-bicycle accidents occur on an alarmingly frequent basis. While every traffic accident can pose serious medical issues for those involved, pedestrian crashes are particularly difficult to walk away from. As Maryland automobile and trucking accident lawyers, we know the extent to which a victim of such a collision may be injured, prevention is the best approach.

However, with densely populated areas like Annapolis, Frederick and Gaithersburg, avoiding injuries or deaths due to car, truck and motorcycle accidents is a tall order. Although car-to-car and truck-to-car accidents are more frequent than car-to-pedestrian or truck-to-bicycle collisions, the latter can be many times more dangerous for the berson on foot or riding their bike.

According to reports, authorities in Anne Arundel County have been attempting to raise awareness in the area of pedestrian and biking safety; particularly in the eastern portion of Anne Arundel, which sees more than its share of fatal pedestrian crashes.

The latest statistics show that eight persons on foot and one cyclist were killed in motor vehicle crashes this year to date across the county; four of those deaths occurred in the earner half of the county, which is where police have been targeting pedestrian and bicycle safety following these fatal accidents.

Based on news items, police in towns such as Brooklyn Park, MD, were given the assignment to stop motor vehicle drivers, as well as walkers, jogger and bikers whenever an officer observed someone violating the rules of the road. This included not only motorists who may have been ignoring bike lanes, but also pedestrians who are seen jaywalking in the street. Issuing of warnings has generally been the order of the day; however officers have not been shy about writing tickets for more egregious offenses.

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How often have we all read the words, “Accident victims were evacuated to local hospitals by Medevac helicopter,” yet it’s not often that people give much thought to the life-saving advantages of a medical chopper flight to a not-so-local hospital. While many readers might consider medevac services truly useful only when an individual is injured in car accident that occurs in a remote part of the countryside, such as a state park or other more rural setting, it’s not uncommon to have emergency responders call for a medical evacuation chopper in instances where the best medical care more than a 30-minute ambulance ride from the scene of a severe car or pedestrian traffic accident.

The fact is, medevac helicopters can get a person injured in an auto accident to the right medical facility for treatment of specific or life-threatening injuries. It can be said that in a percentage of accidents, just taking an injured driver or passenger to the closest hospital may not be in that person’s best interest. This is especially clear in cases of traumatic brain injury — also known as closed-head injury — where the nearest local medical facility is poorly equipped for such specific and critical care.

As Baltimore auto accident lawyers and Maryland personal injury attorneys, I and my staff understand the importance of getting a car, truck or motorcycle accident victim stabilized as quickly as possible to avoid future complications. So many factors come into play following a highway collision that only the medical personnel at the scene can assess each victim and determine the most immediate and effective care.

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Traffic accidents that take innocent lives are some of the most regrettable events anyone has to face. Recently, the Maryland legislature assed House Bill 363 that essential says drivers who are found guilty of being grossly negligent in fatal car crashes will be facing a new prison term option from courts across the state.

According to news reports, the general assembly approved the bill that calls for “grossly negligent” drivers who are determined to have caused a fatal traffic accident will be looking at mandatory jail time. Previously, even reckless drivers’ actions were found to have resulted in a deadly automobile or motorcycle crash were not always help to account for another person’s death.

Under Maryland’s current statutes, a motorist could be facing jail following a fatal car-bike crash, but only if it can be proven that the defendant was grossly negligent. Many experts have suggested that some of the state’s prosecuting attorneys feel gross negligence is an extremely high standard to reach in court. The approach, according to earlier reports, was to get lower the standard to something closer to “substantial deviation from the standard of care.”

Naturally, demonstrating “substantial negligence” is typically more difficult than “ordinary negligence,” however it is easier than meeting the standard for “gross negligence.” It has been suggested that the standard of substantial negligence would apply to more instances of, say, vehicular homicides in which the defendant was found to be going twice the speed limit on a winding country road, or passing a slower vehicle on a blind curve.

Nevertheless, the new jail-time penalties likely to be used by state and local prosecutors’ offices may begin to make a dent in what seems to have become the painful and all too common occurrence of deadly car-bicycle accidents. The goal, as suggested by many observers, is to thwart the sometimes reckless behavior of motorists and even to reduce or eliminate fatal biking accidents, not unlike the way that DWI and DUI laws have helped to reduce the number alcohol-related traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities.

As Maryland auto and motorcycle accident attorneys and Washington, D.C., injury lawyers, my office has seen the results of road accidents involving passenger cars, commercial trucks and bicycle riders enough to know that new laws designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians are a step in the right direction.

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Bodily injuries suffered as a result of an automobile accident can range from minor cuts and bruises, to broken bones and closed-head injuries. The latter, also referred to as traumatic brain injuries, can spell serious trouble for victims of traffic collisions. Yet as scary as head trauma can be, the recovery can turn out to be quite amazing, according to some experts.

As a Baltimore car and truck accident lawyer and Maryland personal injury attorney, I and my colleagues have seen the aftermath of many car, truck and motorcycle wrecks, as well as the human toll. But as the story of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has shown, the road to recovery from traumatic brain injury can be just this side of miraculous.

While it’s surely too early to tell — according to medical professionals a patient’s progress in this area is best measured at the six- to 12-month mark following a closed-head injury — Ms. Giffords progress shows that there is hope for many people who have suffered serious trauma to the brain.

Depending on how you read the data, Baltimore pedestrians either have a lot to celebrate or a fair amount of caution yet to exercise when traversing the city’s crosswalks. According to Transportation for America, a pedestrian and bicycle safety group, more than 76,000 Americans have died over the past 15 years just crossing the street in their own communities.

My office provides legal services to individuals injured in pedestrian accidents caused by negligent passenger car drivers or as a result of a commercial trucking accident. As Maryland injury attorneys, we understand the pain and suffering that can follow a pedestrian-automobile accident, as well as the associated medical costs for treatment and rehabilitation.

The published report on pedestrian injuries and fatalities across the country ranked a number of metropolitan areas in terms of frequency of accidents involving persons on foot. In discussing the issue of pedestrian injuries, the authors of the study sum up the total number of deaths as being the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing with a full passenger load once every month or so. It’s shocking to say the least.

Calling out the total number of deaths in this decade, Transportation for America points out that nearly 4,000 children under 16 years have been killed so far in the 2000s. Based on their figures, the authors observed that in children, elderly and infirm individuals, and ethnic minorities are over-represented in the totals.

The study is quick to address the fact that many pedestrian deaths are typically termed “accidents,” which indicates an error either on the part of the vehicle operator or the person on foot. However, the authors make a strong point that quite a large percentage of these so-called accidents occurred along roadways that were “dangerous by design.” In other words, the blame should perhaps be shifted to the poor roadway and sidewalk design, rather than to the users of those streets and walkways.

It has become more and more prevalent that communities are retrofitting poorly designed roadways into more complete streets. This is being done through the addition of sidewalks and bicycle lanes, reduction of crossing distances and the installation of trees and crosswalks to make walking and biking safer and more inviting.

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Annapolis

A Glen Burnie motorist received a reduced 60-day jail sentence for his part in a near-fatal automobile collision in early 2008. The 24-year-old defendant, Jeffrey David Johnson Jr., pleaded guilty recently for his responsibility for inflicting a life-threatening injury while under the influence of alcohol — a blood test taken after the accident recorded the man’s blood-alcohol content at 0.25 percent, three times the legal limit in Maryland. Being auto injury attorneys in the Baltimore area, our office has represented many clients injured by drunk drivers even after a criminal trial has been concluded.

According to reports, the accident took place in the early morning of March 15 last year as Johnson was heading southbound on Crain Highway. The defendant’s car reportedly hit another vehicle attempting to make a left-hand turn from the northbound lane onto Old State Road. A passenger in the other vehicle was critically injured in the crash. The judge suspended all but 60 days of the two-year sentence due to the other driver not yielding right of way to southbound traffic.

Millersville

A 66-year-old driver was injured recently during a late-morning crash on Cecil Avenue, which caused one occupant to be trapped in the wreckage and left two other passengers with minor injuries. According to Anne Arundel county fire officials, emergency personnel received a call just before 11 a.m. in the area of Waugh Chapel. The woman’s injuries were listed as serious, but not life-threatening.

Odenton
For reasons as yet unknown, a pickup truck crashed into a local 7-Eleven convenience store during a mid-August afternoon. One person received minor injuries after the truck drove into the building. Firefighters were called to the scene where they transported the victim to Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie for treatment of minor injuries
Arnold

A bicycle rider from Cape St. Claire received serious and life-threatening injuries when she was struck in the face by the sideview mirror of an E-350 full-size van driven by an Annapolis resident. The accident occurred on College Parkway at Bellerive Drive shortly before noon on August 11. Emergency crews responded to the accident where they treated Shamika Baker, 22, for a severe head injury and then transported her to a local hospital. According to reports, police suspect alcohol may have been a factor, though the 42-year-old driver of the van, Shane Killeen, had not yet been charged.

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A sad story of a fatal bicycle accident in Ocean City, MD, came across the wires recently and points to the dangers inherent any time a bike rider travels on public roads. It happened on Maryland’s Coastal Highway as 23-year-old Kristin Anne Stormer was taking a leisurely summer ride. While riding her bicycle along a pedestrian crosswalk, she was struck and killed by a southbound delivery truck.

As a Maryland auto accident lawyer, I’ve represented numerous individuals who have been injured in automobile-bicycle accidents. Although the roadway in question has a 35mph posted speed limit, at those relatively low speeds even a small car, much less a full-size delivery truck, can seriously injure or kill someone on a bike. Without knowing the specific details, it’s hard to say if the truck driver was responsible for this woman’s sad and unfortunate death.

Summer is a great time to out and about. But whether you’re riding a bike, a motorcycle or driving a car, even a relaxing trip along the coast must be done with a degree of caution. As motor vehicle operators and as bicycle riders, we all have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road. In this case, reports state that the woman may have been listening to an iPod while riding her bike. This is can be a dangerous activity for anyone operating a vehicle in traffic and it is actually illegal in Maryland.

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