Maryland Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawyer
Motorcycle accidents can often be deadly for riders. Without the surrounding structure of a car and other safety equipment to keep them safe, a rider can sustain serious injuries in a motorcycle crash, especially when traveling at highway speeds. If you lost a loved one to a motorcycle accident in Maryland, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your loss and the financial damages their death caused you and your family.
Call the Maryland motorcycle accident wrongful death attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. Our lawyers represent the families of deceased motorcycle accident victims and fight to get them compensation and justice from the at-fault parties. For a free legal consultation on your potential case, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
Motorcycle Death Statistics for Maryland
Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than other vehicles. the freedom and power that they exude comes at the cost of safety and protection.
In Maryland, motorcycles make up approximately 2.5% of all registered vehicles. Despite that small number, motorcyclists are involved in 15% of all deadly accidents. In fact, one out of every 25 motorcycle accidents results in death.
Motorcyclists also have a reputation for being reckless, speeding down the Maryland highways and weaving through slower lanes of traffic.
However, in many cases, a motorcyclist is not to blame for an accident. If your loved one was killed in a motorcycle crash, you should not just assume they were operating their bike carelessly.
It is essential to have an attorney who understands the prejudices facing motorcycle riders. If you lost a loved one in an accident, our experienced Maryland motorcycle accident attorney will carefully review your case’s facts and fight for your rights.
Common Causes of Deadly Motorcycle Crashes in Maryland
Many of the common reasons motorcycle accidents occur in Maryland are very similar to the reasons why automobile accidents happen. However, there is a disparity in the severity of injuries, especially fatal injuries, when a motorcycle is involved in an accident. the difference should be immediately apparent – a motorcycle does not provide the same protection to its rider that a car or SUV affords its drivers or passengers.
In addition to the lack of protection, motorcycles have a much smaller profile on the road. This smaller silhouette makes them harder to see. it is also not uncommon for other drivers to misjudge the speed and physical distance between their vehicle and a motorcyclist.
Weather is another factor that most drivers take for granted.
While a severe rainstorm might limit visibility and cause a motorist to slow down, it does not present nearly the same level of danger that it does to a motorcyclist. Even the remnants of a bad thunderstorm could be extremely hazardous to a person on a motorcycle. Slippery roads or deep puddles could easily cause a motorcyclist to lose their balance. Some of the more common causes of fatal motorcycle accidents in Maryland are listed below.
Left-hand Turn Collisions
Many accidents involving motor vehicles occur at intersections, where traffic patterns cross and motorists are attempting to turn through oncoming traffic. When these types of accidents involved cars, they often result in damage to the vehicles and some superficial injuries. However, they are rarely deadly.
When a left-hand turn accident happens between a car or larger vehicle and a motorcycle, the injuries are usually more severe or fatal. When a motorcycle collides with an oncoming car turning into an intersection, the rider is usually thrown from the bike. In some cases, the motorcyclist impacts the other vehicle, resulting in catastrophic or deadly injuries.
Head-on collisions are the most devastating accidents that can occur. When two cars collide into each other, the injuries are usually severe or fatal. When the other vehicle involved is a motorcycle, the rider is afforded no protection other than their helmet. Even at low speeds, a head-on collision with a motorcycle is usually deadly for the rider.
Speeding or Reckless Driving
Motorcyclists have a reputation for operating their bikes at high speeds and recklessly. However, many accidents involving motorcycles are caused by other motorists driving their vehicles at excessive speeds.
Once again, a motorcyclist has no protection when struck by a speeding car. Any slight contact at a high speed could result in throwing the rider onto the ground and into moving traffic. Additionally, a motorist might not be able to react in time to avoid a motorcycle if they are driving too fast. In many situations, the death of a rider is directly related to the vehicle’s speed that caused the accident.
As stated above, some things that pose no danger to a person driving a car present a deadly risk to a motorcyclist. Road debris and hazards are usually much more dangerous to someone operating a motorcycle.
A piece of wood or an uneven pavement might go unnoticed by someone driving a car. However, the same hazard could prove fatal to a motorcyclist. If a construction crew leaves debris on the roadway, they could be held liable for any injuries that occur.
While the practice of lane splitting, or lane sharing, is prohibited under Maryland law, it still happens. Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist travels between two moving lanes of traffic, resulting in a very small space between the motorcycle and the two vehicles on either side. A slight distraction or shift in position could prove deadly for the motorcyclist who is squeezed between two fast-moving cars.
Suing for Deadly Motorcycle Accidents in Maryland
Victims of auto accidents are typically entitled to sue the driver who caused the crash to recover compensation for vehicle damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering that the crash caused.
In the case of a deadly crash, the victim might not be able to file a lawsuit, but their surviving family typically can. the parents, children, or spouse of the deceased can typically file a lawsuit on their behalf. In addition, they can claim damages that they personally suffered from the death of a loved one.
These cases are often called “wrongful death” lawsuits, though this often combines two types of lawsuits: an action from wrongful death and a survival action. the distinction between the two is a technical legal issue; what is important to you is that your lawyer can help you determine which to file and make sure that they are filed properly to maximize the damages you can seek.
In addition to the damages your loved one would have been able to sue for – pain and suffering, medical expenses, etc. – you can also sue for harms you and your family faced from the crash.
This often includes the lost support – both economic and intangible. That means suing for the deceased’s lost wages, lost companionship, lost counsel and emotional support, lost spousal services and lost household tasks.
You can also sue for other expenses incurred, such as funeral and burial costs. Many of these expenses and lost benefits would not have occurred if your loved one had survived the crash, so the parties responsible for the accident should pay for these costs.
After an auto accident, you might think that you need to file a claim with the insurance companies to get compensation for the damages. In many cases in Maryland, there is no requirement to go through insurance. Instead, you can file a lawsuit in court, especially if there was a death in the accident.
This can open additional areas of damage, such as pain and suffering damages, that the insurance policy might not cover. When there is insurance that covers the at-fault driver, but you sue instead, the insurance company may still pay the damages and provide the defendant with a lawyer.
These insurance companies will often try to settle claims at a reduced rate instead of going to trial, but your attorney can help counsel you on whether their settlement offers are fair or fall short of the damages you are entitled to claim.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Death Case in MD
To succeed in a lawsuit for wrongful death from a motorcycle accident, you typically must prove that the defendant was at fault for the crash and caused the death. To do so, you must generally prove four major elements of the case to show “negligence,” the basis of most wrongful death lawsuits:
- The defendant owed the victim a legal duty.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The breach of duty caused injuries and death.
- The victim and their family suffered damages the court can order compensation for.
The legal duty discussed in this type of case can usually be supplied in two ways. First, all drivers on the road have a legal duty to conduct their vehicles with the care and skill that a reasonably prudent driver in their situation would.
That means avoiding dangerous moves, driving at a reasonable speed, and keeping a proper lookout to avoid hitting other vehicles and pedestrians. Second, drivers are required to follow traffic laws. Tailgating, speeding, running red lights, failing to yield, and other violations of Maryland traffic law can put other drivers at risk and qualify as a breach of duty.
The specific facts of the crash will often define who was at fault and what they did wrong. In some cases, courts see both sides as having committed errors, which might be detrimental to your case in some lawsuits. it is vital to work with an attorney who can express what happened in terms of the defendant’s negligence and help protect your claim against counterclaims that the deceased caused the crash.
If you can prove that the at-fault driver caused the accident, you may be entitled to claim all damages that resulted from the accident. That includes the costs of injury and medical care and the effects on your family discussed above. You must also prove these damages in court before the court can award you compensation.
Contributory Negligence and Wrongful Motorcycle Deaths in Maryland
Any personal injury lawsuit, including a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Maryland, will be impacted by the state’s adherence to the harsh doctrine of “contributory negligence.” Under this doctrine, if an injured person is found to be partially responsible for the accident, then they are prohibited from collecting any compensation from the defendant. the percentage of fault does not matter.
A jury could find that a truck driver was 95% responsible for the accident and that a motorcyclist contributed 5% to the accident. This finding would mean that the motorcyclist’s or their family’s claim could be denied.
It is crucial to have our experienced Maryland wrongful death attorney representing your rights. Furthermore, you need an attorney that has pursued personal injury and wrongful death claims for motorcyclists and their families.
Defense attorneys and insurance companies will try and establish that the motorcyclist was at least partially responsible for the accident. the attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras understand the prejudice that motorcyclists face regarding their perceived recklessness.
Our office will thoroughly examine the facts surrounding the accident’s circumstances to prepare for the arguments the defense might raise. While the doctrine of contributory negligence is challenging to overcome, it is not impossible.
Call Our Maryland Motorcycle Wrongful Death Attorneys to Schedule a Free Consultation
If your loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident in Maryland, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Our Maryland motorcycle wrongful death lawyers represent the families of victims of deadly motorcycle crashes and fight to get them compensation for the loss of a loved one. For a free legal consultation and more information about how to proceed with your case, call us today at (410) 694-7291.