Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accident

It is well known that when someone is injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligent driving, Maryland law allows them to sue the responsible driver in a civil lawsuit. These lawsuits, if successful, can result in the plaintiff receiving monetary compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering they experienced as a result of the accident. However, there are certain barriers to when injured victims can and cannot sue. One important barrier is the concept of governmental immunity. If the negligent or responsible driver who caused the injuries works for the government, then they generally cannot be sued for causing Maryland car accidents if they were acting within the scope of their employment.

Recently, a state supreme court considered this scope of employment doctrine in a case highlighting its importance. According to the court’s written opinion, the defendant was a State Trooper who had a vehicle given to him by the state police office. He was allowed to drive this vehicle when he was off duty, but was subject to standard operating procedures and guidelines, including being required to maintain radio contact at all times and respond to emergencies if needed. The defendant had finished work for the day and was driving to his son’s baseball game when he decided to pass a vehicle in front of him. As he switched lanes, he noticed a motorcycle in the lane heading towards him, and so he slowed down and went back to his own lane. However, the oncoming motorcycle had already locked its brakes, swerved side to side, and then rolled over, ejecting both the driver and the passenger, who suffered subsequent injures.

The driver of the motorcycle filed suit against the trooper, alleging negligence in operating his vehicle. The trooper, in response, filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that he was acting within the scope of employment while driving his state vehicle and was thus immune from personal liability. The trial court agreed and granted the motion, but the court of appeals reversed. The case was appealed to the state supreme court.

In the wake of a serious Maryland car accident, accident victims face many difficulties. Of course, these include overcoming the physical and emotional injuries that come along with being involved in a serious accident. However, even after an accident victim has physically recovered as best they can, before they can obtain compensation for their injuries they will likely have to deal with one or more insurance companies.

While Maryland car insurance is required by law and, in theory, operates to the benefit of Maryland accident victims. In reality, insurance companies are for-profit corporations that are motivated by their bottom line. To remain profitable, insurance companies must make more in monthly premiums than they pay out in claims. Thus, insurance companies routinely dispute motorists’ claims or attempt to settle them for as little as possible. A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court illustrates the difficulties a motorist had when trying to file a claim under an underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance policy.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident that was allegedly caused by another driver. The at-fault driver had insufficient insurance coverage to adequately compensate the plaintiff for the injuries he sustained in the accident. The also plaintiff had two insurance policies, one with Allstate as well as a UIM policy with the defendant insurance company.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a case involving a motorcyclist who was killed after he fell off his motorcycle and was struck by a car. At issue in the case was whether the man’s insurance coverage was triggered. The lower court determined that it was not, but on appeal, the court held that there were material issues that should be submitted to a jury for resolution.

The Facts of the Case

The accident victim was riding his motorcycle when a garbage can fell off a truck and got stuck in the wheel of his motorcycle. The man lost control of the motorcycle, fell off, and rolled to a stop in an adjacent lane. Before he could get up, he was struck by a passing vehicle.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. It could not be determined whether he died as a result of falling off the motorcycle onto the pavement, or whether he survived the initial fall and was killed when he was struck by the passing motorist.

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In a recent car accident case, Kubert v. Best, et. al, Sup. Ct. NJ, App. Div. (2013) , a New Jersey appeals court examined whether an individual sending text messages to a driver may be held liable for any resulting accidents caused as a result. The state has laws forbidding texting while driving, as we have in Maryland.

The panel of judges created a new standard of liability in the case, which involved a car accident that took place in 2009. The accident occurred when an 18 year old young man accidentally crossed the center line, colliding into a motorcycle that was carrying a husband and wife. The accident caused both of the individuals to lose their left legs, as a result of the injuries they sustained in the crash.

Later obtained evidence, including phone records, demonstrated that the driver had been actively texting with a 17 year old female friend. After the injured couple settled with the driver in the accident, they claimed that the young woman was also at fault in the accident, for distracting the driver with texts. The trial judge found that the young girl did not owe the injured couple any duty to stop texting, even if she knew that the young man was driving.

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Most drivers in the Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., areas know that they could be involved in a passenger car or commercial truck accident some time during their driving careers. Accepting risks, at least reasonable risks, is all part and parcel of living in the modern world. One hundred years ago automobile accidents were few and far between, since cars were new to the scene and accidents occurred at slower speeds.

These days car, truck and motorcycle wrecks can happen at much higher speeds than in the pioneering days of internal combustion. Fortunately for us, and unlike our ancestors, advances in medical science can significantly improve an accident victim’s chances for survival following a severe or near-fatal traffic collision. This doesn’t mean necessarily that doctors and healthcare professionals can completely reverse the damaging effects of a bad car crash; there are significant downside risks for any personal injury victim.

Case in point: the head and spinal injuries that can take place during a high-speed automobile, truck or motorcycle crash. Closed-head injuries can be some of the most vexing when it comes to returning a victim to normal function, even in these days of advanced medical procedures and treatment techniques. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand how so many drivers and passengers can end up paralyzed for extended periods, if not for life.

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Understanding as we do the crippling effects of car, truck and motorcycle collisions, there is nothing funny about being laid up in the hospital for days or weeks following a bad traffic wreck. The mere fact that one’s health, or the well-being of one’s family, may have been compromised due to the negligence of just one person should be enough to consider speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Here in the Baltimore area, I and my colleagues understand very well the negative outcome that a serious roadway accident can have on some individuals. Whether takes place in Owings Mills, Gaithersburg, Bowie or Washington, D.C., the long-term outcome could be temporary paralysis, chronic pain or permanent disability depending on the type of injuries sustained in the crash.

Every year, dozens upon dozens of Marylanders endure spinal cord injuries as a result of a variety of automobile and commercial trucking wrecks. These days, with the ever-increasing volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, being hurt as a result of a traffic collision seems to be less of a possibility and more of a certainty. This isn’t to say that overall vehicle safety has waned, but that increasing traffic density may tend to increase the odds of a random collision happening more often to occupants of passenger cars, city and charter buses and those individuals on foot.

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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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For drivers working or residing in cities such as Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., nobody needs to be reminded that high traffic volumes and congestion are a constant problem with little chance of letting up in the future. With high traffic density a fact of daily commuter life, it’s no surprise that car, truck and motorcycle accidents continue to occur on a regular basis.

As Maryland car and trucking accident attorneys, we know the frustration of being stuck in traffic following a major accident. But as personal injury lawyers, we also know that the victims of those “inconvenient” car and truck collisions are facing much more severe and painful recoveries; certainly more extended than the hour or so of delay the rest of us experience when a tie-up occurs due to a roadway accident.

It’s a matter of record that the driver and occupants riding in sedans, minivans, sport utility vehicles and other small passenger cars can be seriously injured or killed in a high-speed wreck with another motor vehicle. Although Maryland motorists have faced the prospect of physical injury for decades ever since the first horseless carriage hit another vehicle, the fact remains: car accidents can result in broken bones, deep cuts and laceration, back injury and closed-head trauma.

Of course, when a traffic accident does occur — whether between two cars, a truck and a bicycle, or a single-vehicle crash caused by a defective automotive component – the victims are often overwhelmed from the event. Still, if at all possible, it is important to make note of the facts following a car crash or commercial trucking wreck so that it is easier to determine if that motor vehicle collision was a result of a negligent act or the carelessness of another motorist.

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Highway deaths in and around Baltimore, Rockville, the District, and Frederick, MD, occur for dozens of reasons every month. Many of these fatal car, motorcycle and commercial trucking accidents could possibly be avoided or mitigated in one way or another, but sadly not all. Drunken driving contributes to a significant percentage of car, truck and motorcycle crashes, a result of which is a substantial number of occupant injuries including closed-head trauma, spinal cord damage, and internal injuries.

A local Annapolis bar was in the news recently as law enforcement and the public focused on the serving of alcohol to underage patrons. According to news articles, the Acme Bar and Grill is under fairly intense scrutiny for an episode that occurred this past summer. Based on reports, the bar allegedly served several underage customers on June 15, two of whom died in a motorcycle wreck just minutes after walking out of that drinking establishment.

The incident raised serious questions about the bar’s practices vis-à-vis serving underage individuals, in particular those who may go out and drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated. While personal responsibility is a fine ideal, the law stipulates that people under the age of 21 cannot be served liquor legally. Criminal charges are not unusual in cases like this where a young person has been injured or died after being sold alcohol at a bar, liquor store or restaurant.

According to news articles, last summer’s incident involved two people allegedly known to at least one of the bar’s staff to be underage. Events following the entry of 20-year-old
Craig Eney, Jr., and 19-year-old Kelcey Silva transpired rather quickly, based on police reports. After stopping by the bar around in the early morning hours of that fateful day, both individuals consumed sufficient alcohol to raise their blood-alcohol content (BAC) to levels exceeding the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

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During the summer months is when we tend to see a greater frequency of car-motorcycle accidents here in Maryland. Of course, most every motorcycle rider knows that his or her chosen pastime can be fraught with risks, but when managed well those risks can be minimized, though not always eliminated. Much of what anybody on the road depends is the skills and alertness of other drivers; hopefully for most of us, motorists, truckers and bikers alike all do their part to be vigilant and safety conscious.

Unfortunately, as we all know too well, this is not always the case. As personal injury lawyers serving the residents of Maryland and Washington, D.C., I and my colleagues see our share of serious and sometimes fatal bike, auto and commercial truck wrecks in the news every week. Especially in the case of bikers, the stakes are high as far as bodily injury goes.

A motorcyclist who tangles with a larger motor vehicle such as an SUV, minivan or commercial delivery truck can receive any number of injuries ranging from lacerations and contusions to neck, back and closed-head trauma, otherwise known as traumatic brain injury. Recovery from the latter types of injuries can be a long and costly road for the victim as well as his or her family. In some cases, the individual may never be the same, having been permanently disabled due to another driver’s negligence.

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