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Driving or riding a motorcycle can be a fun experience, but motorcyclists face unique risks while sharing the road with cars. The average motorcycle is about 80-100 inches long. When compared to other vehicles that motorcycles share the road with, other vehicles can range from a mid-sized sedan that can be around 14 feet long to large pick-up trucks that on average can be around 235 inches long. Although motorcycle accidents do not necessarily happen more frequently than other motor vehicle accidents, accidents involving motorcycles can be particularly devastating. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, motorcyclists were nearly 29 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle miles traveled. Motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles should take precautions and be mindful of others on the road to prevent devastating accidents.

In recent news, an accident occurred outside of Maryland and led to severe injuries for a motorcyclist. The accident occurred at the intersection of 3rd and E streets in the Judiciary Square neighborhood of D.C. According to the report, D.C. Fire and EMS crews were responding to a fire around 10 a.m. when they collided with a motorcyclist. The motorcyclist was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. No one on the fire truck was injured. The crash is still being investigated.

As seen in the accident described above, sharing the road with emergency vehicles can present additional risks as these vehicles respond to various emergency situations multiple times throughout the day. All drivers should take extra care to be aware of the changing environment around them while they are on the road, which may mean safely yielding to the right when emergency vehicles have turned on their emergency signals. In addition, emergency vehicles and other vehicles must be mindful of smaller vehicles on the road, including motorcycles.

In Maryland, car accidents occur every day for a variety of reasons, but one common occurrence is due to drivers disobeying traffic signals. Without traffic signals, busy highways and roads would be filled with chaos and more traffic accidents. Devastating car accidents can happen in a split second, which is why obeying all traffic laws and traffic signals is vital to safety. Drivers have a legal duty to follow traffic laws and signals to prevent harm to themselves and harm to other motorists and pedestrians. When drivers fail to follow traffic signals, it can be due to negligence. Such negligence may include driving while distracted or driving while fatigued, because diverting one’s attention away from the roads, even for one second, could result in a car accident. Sometimes determining the cause behind a driver failing to follow traffic signals can be tricky.

For example, last month, the Maryland State Police released a report on a fatal three-vehicle crash in Hartford County, Maryland. The accident occurred in Abingdon, Maryland, and involved a tractor-trailer that was traveling north on Emmorton Road. At the same time, a Chrysler and a Jeep Compass were traveling south on the same road. According to the initial investigation, the driver of the tractor-trailer reportedly failed to stop at a red turn signal and instead proceeded through the intersection of the road. The front of the tractor-trailer struck the left side of the Chrysler while in the intersection. The driver of the Jeep then swerved to avoid a collision, but the quarter panel of the Chrysler struck the front right fender of the Jeep. As a result, the Chrysler traveled off the road before coming to a stop near a brush.

An ambulance transported the driver of the Chrysler to a nearby medical center, where the driver was later declared deceased. The other two drivers refused medical treatment at the scene. The accident led to road closure for the next five hours following the crash. At the time of the report, no charges had been filed and an investigation was pending to determine the cause of the crash.

When a loved one unexpectedly passes away because of an accident, you may feel overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do next. Although the path to healing is a long and complicated one for all who are involved, understanding the legal avenues you have available to you can be crucial for finding closure and receiving the compensation you and your loved ones deserve after an accident.

According to a recent local news report, Maryland State Police are investigating a multiple-vehicle crash that killed a local man and injured a pedestrian. Based on a press release from local authorities, troopers responded to a report of an accident involving five separate vehicles and a pedestrian at around 3:00 AM. A preliminary investigation found that a Dodge rear ended a Chevrolet, which led to a separate driver stopping his vehicle on the shoulder to assist with the accident. A Nissan then also crashed into the Dodge and hit the pedestrian. Separately, a Chevrolet also stopped at the scene before being struck by a GMC. The driver of the second Chevrolet was pronounced dead at the hospital. Local police are continuing to investigate the accident.

In Maryland, like other states, there are specific laws governing legal avenues for accidental deaths and compensation for these losses. Maryland defines wrongful death as one stemming from “an act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.” In simpler terms, this means that if the deceased could have brought a lawsuit against the at-fault party if they had survived the accident, then their relatives and loved ones have the standing to bring a claim upon their passing.

In Maryland, hit-and-run accidents refer to incidents in which at least one individual involved in a crash leaves the scene before rendering aid or providing identifying information. These crashes contribute to the pain and suffering and economic burdens of typical injury crashes but can aggravate the severity of a victim’s outcome. The delay or complete lack of medical attention for the victim can lead to deadly consequences. In addition to civil ramifications, those who flee an accident scene can face criminal charges.

An analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatal Reporting System (FRS) revealed an increase in fatal hit-and-run accidents. There are many individual, vehicle, and environmental factors that play a role in these accidents. Additionally, researchers apply two primary behavioral theories to drivers who commit hit-and-runs. Under the “rational decision theory,” drivers may decide to flee when they have the opportunity, the incentive, and the time to flee. For instance, drunk driving is more likely to occur at night or when there is limited lighting and fewer witnesses. Similarly, a drunk driver who commits an accident at night may take the opportunity to flee.

For example, a recent article reported on a 3 a.m. Hagerstown drunk driving accident where the driver may have been attempting to flee. Police explained that they saw the driver leaving the scene when they arrived at the accident. Police apprehended the vehicle on the ramp and arrested the driver with DUI. The second car’s driver and one passenger suffered life-threatening injuries. Further, emergency responders transported another passenger to the “shock trauma” unit. Early evidence suggests that both drivers may have been under the influence of alcohol.

Rear-end accidents refer to incidents when a rear vehicle’s front bumper collides into the back of the vehicle in front of them. While most Maryland rear-end accidents tend to occur at low speeds near stop signs, congested traffic, or stop signs, they can occur in any traffic scenario. Studies suggest that four primary factors, driver, vehicle, road, and environment, influence the likelihood and severity of a rear-end accident.

Driver factors include physiological and psychological characteristics that may affect the driver’s conduct. Vehicle factors include the performance and braking style of different types and grades of cars. The driving environment also impacts a drivers’ reaction time and visibility. Finally, road factors such as the maintenance and surface of roadways can impact the likelihood of a rear-end accident.

Fatal rear-end accidents include additional factors that may influence the likelihood of these incidents. For example, accidents involving improperly restrained occupants are more likely to result in a fatality. Additionally, the higher velocity of the subject vehicle at the time of the collision correlates with a higher fatality rate. Further, post-crash fires are linked to more fatalities.

Being involved and injured in a car accident is traumatic enough. However, the situation can be more complicated when the injured passenger knows the driver who caused the accident—and, in fact, the passenger was in the same car as the responsible driver. The injured person may not want to seek compensation or file a lawsuit, because it is a friend or relative who is liable. While this may be a common feeling, it is important to remember that anyone injured in a car accident has a right to seek compensation—regardless of who is responsible for the accident.

A recent car accident involving a Washington Football player led to the death of a 29-year-old woman. According to a news report, the deceased was the passenger in the car that the football player was driving in Virginia. The car struck several trees, rolled over, and then went off the right side of the road. The victim was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The driver is being treated for serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.

In many situations, if a driver was injured in a car accident involving a stranger, they would not hesitate to bring a personal injury lawsuit. However, being involved in a car accident with a friend tends to stop people from bringing this suit. But it should not. It is important to remember when seeking compensation from a driver, the driver’s insurance company is the one who will often pay for any damages. People have insurance to cover accidents like this. This is a common misconception—that the individual personally will pay for the injured person’s recovery out of their own pocket. Instead, by filing a lawsuit against the driver, it ensures the injured person is compensated, but their friend or relative is not financially harmed in the process.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts periodic studies to improve road safety and accident prevention. Recently, the agency found that the United States had the most traffic fatalities since 2007. Amongst the list of most dangerous highways, the NHTSA found that the stretch of 1-95 near Baltimore, Maryland was home to a significant number of fatal accidents.

Although accidents can occur at any time, certain factors increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries. According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, specific roads, counties, and states present more risk factors to drivers. Generally, the agency designates a roadway amongst the most dangerous based on the number of fatal accidents on the roadway. Fatality rates are based on the number of traffic deaths per 100 miles for every highway in the country.

A critical finding of the study was that 1-95 is the most dangerous roadway in the country, specifically in major cities such as Baltimore, Maryland and Boston. The majority of the accidents occurred during the winter during inclement weather. Statistics indicate that there were 284 fatalities or 14.88 fatalities per 100 miles. While the pandemic brought a drastic downturn in daily traffic, the number of fatalities increased. In fact, there was a over 25% increase from 2019 to 2020 in vehicle-related fatalities.

Many children and teenagers throughout the United States, especially those who live in cities, walk to school or a bus stop daily. While walking is a healthy and enjoyable mode of transportation for many school-aged children, it can present a risk of a Maryland pedestrian accident. According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Maryland is the 7th most dangerous state for pedestrians. This ranking is startling for a small state. Following a harrowing accident on National Walk to School Day, safety advocates urge lawmakers to expedite their Vision Zero plan.

The Vision Zero initiative stems from the US Department of Transportation’s Mayor challenge. The program aims to reduce the rate of pedestrian accidents by improving bike lanes and pedestrian walkways. The plan falls under a common framework that emphasizes the “Five E’s.” The “Five E’s” are evaluation, engineering, enforcement, education, and encouragement of necessary systemic changes. Residents and advocates are asking government leaders to add in another “E”: exigency.

The urgency comes after a 29-year-old father was walking his two young daughters to school when a Jeep slammed into them. The father explained that he was dragged nearly 20 feet by the vehicle. His 8-year-old daughter suffered severe injuries to her leg that has confined her to a bed, and his 6-year-old daughter suffered severe facial injuries that will require extensive surgery. Additionally, the family is receiving therapy to help them cope with the psychological aftermath of the incident.

Maryland maintains one of the strictest contributory negligence laws in the country, and accident victims should hire an attorney to help them through the claims process. The state’s contributory negligence framework provides that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence bars them from recovering damages. In other words, a plaintiff who possesses even 1% of the responsibility for the accident will not be able to recover. As such, regardless of how straightforward an accident may appear, determining definitive fault after a Maryland accident is critical to financial recovery.

While Maryland law presents significant challenges to injury victims, there are some exceptions to the harsh contributory negligence statute. The three primary exceptions involve the last clear chance doctrine, seat belts, and rear-end collisions. The “last clear chance” doctrine refers to situations when the other driver had the last clear opportunity to avoid the accident. In these cases, the driver with the last chance to avoid the accident will be liable for the damages. Further, many defendants try and purport the injury victim’s seat belt usage as evidence of contributory negligence. However, in Maryland, a defendant cannot avoid liability by solely pointing to a victim’s seatbelt usage as evidence. Finally, the law generally imputes liability on the back driver in a rear-end accident. While defense attorneys may present evidence to establish the front-drivers negligence, these defenses require a significant amount of evidence.

Overcoming contributory negligence defenses is exceedingly challenging in multi-vehicle accidents because the exact sequence of events can be convoluted. For instance, reporters recently described a harrowing series of Maryland accidents. According to police, a Mitsubishi driver slammed into a vehicle and fled the scene. While fleeing from the first incident, he slammed into a Metro bus and then fled again, striking a school bus and a sedan. Emergency responders transported the Metro bus and school bus drivers to a local hospital. The Mitsubishi driver remains in critical condition at a different hospital.

Maryland continues to follow outdated and strict contributory negligence laws that pose many challenges to accident victims. First, the state is one of the few jurisdictions that permit contributory negligence as a defense instead of comparative negligence. Other states calculate damages by calculating damages in proportion to the amount each party was at fault. Injury victims are more likely to be fairly compensated for injuries under the comparative negligence model. In contrast, the contributory negligence theory creates an “all or nothing” approach, and injury victims cannot recover if they are even 1% at fault for their injuries. These accidents can cause significant injuries, and fair compensation is necessary. As such, Maryland injury victims involved in an accident, especially a multi-vehicle accident, should contact an attorney to ensure that they secure the compensation they deserve.

For example, Maryland State Police described a multiple vehicle accident that resulted in several fatalities. Troopers responded to a report of a head-on collision in Westminster, Maryland. An initial investigation revealed that a Camaro was traveling east when it attempted to pass another car. While passing the vehicle, the Camaro slammed into another sedan. The Camaro driver and passenger and sedan driver suffered fatal injuries. The occupants of the third vehicle involved in the accident did not require immediate medical treatment. The accident is still under investigation; however, authorities believe that excessive speed was a factor in the incident.

This case brings up another critical issue in that Maryland wrongful death operates as two claims. The first claim is the wrongful death action, which asserts damages the person suffered because of the deceased person’s absence from the claimant’s life. The second action is a survival action, which allows compensation to the victim’s estate for the damages the victim incurred because of the accident up until they died.

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