Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accident

Earlier last month, a Maryland appellate court heard a case that was brought by the family of a man who was killed in a motorcycle accident involving a police officer. In the case of Beall v. Holloway-Johnson, the plaintiff who was the personal representative of a man who was killed when a police cruiser struck his motorcycle sought compensatory and punitive damages from the officer for his negligence.

motorcycle-01-1463298Beall v. Holloway-Johnson:  The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the deceased was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident when the defendant, an on-duty police officer, struck the deceased’s motorcycle with his police cruiser. Evidently, the police officer had previously received a radio call about a motorcycle and a Mercedes chasing each other.

The officer arrived in the vicinity and saw a motorcycle. Uncertain if this was the same motorcycle, he followed the motorcyclist. At some point, the motorcyclist sped up, and the officer followed. During the pursuit, the officer’s commanding officer told the officer to cease the pursuit. However, the officer continued to purse the motorcycle. Eventually, the motorcyclist exited the highway and began to slow down in order to do so. As the rider slowed down, the officer collided with the back of the bike, knocking the rider off and killing him instantly.

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kawasaki.jpgThe design defect lawsuit filed by parents on behalf of their minor son, who became permanently injured when his Christmas gift of a Kawasaki motorcycle crashed, survived a motion to dismiss earlier this month.

The couple bought a new Kawasaki motorcycle as a Christmas present for their minor son in 2010. When the boy first rode the motorcycle on Christmas Day, the bike crashed, which resulted in a serious and permanent injury. The parents claim that negligent assembly of the motorcycle’s throttle mechanism was responsible for causing the accident.

One of the defendants in the action moved to have the case, which was filed in federal court, dismissed against it, claiming that the court lacked the requisite personal jurisdiction over the company. However, the U.S. District Judge disagreed, and denied the motion, finding that the defendant had sufficient minimum contacts with New Jersey to justify keeping the claim against it.

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A three judge Commonwealth Court panel recently ruled that a Maryland couple cannot sue the Pennsylvania State Department of Transportation for the injuries they suffered during an accident that occurred in 2007. scales.jpg

According to state police, the couple was riding a Harley-Davidson MC at approximately 12:30 p.m. July 22, 2007, when they swerved suddenly in order to avoid a vehicle that careened into their path, and attempted to pass it on the right hand side. Police said that the motorcycle then veered off the road, striking several different obstructions, then became airborne, and traveled approximately 10 feet before coming to a stop.

In the published opinion, the panel ruled that state law precludes the couple from suing PennDOT for the injuries they suffered while riding a motorcycle, because they had left the paved road when the accident occurred. Therefore, because the state has no duty to maintain any area beyond the portion of the road regularly used for or intended for travel, the exception to sovereign immunity (which allows for the ability to sue the state with its consent) does not apply, and the motion to dismiss the lawsuit was thereby granted.

This case is an unfortunate example of what can result when motorcycle accidents happen. It seems clear from the facts that the accident was initially caused due to the vehicle that first swerved into the path of this Maryland couple. However, the actual cause, or in this case proximate cause, of the undisclosed injuries suffered by the couple were the result of the issues with the roadway–presumably the pipe and cement fixture that they hit off of the road. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania is one of two intermediate appellate courts in the state, meaning that the couple may potentially have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

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The mother of Haines Holloway-Lilliston is suing the city of Baltimore and Police Officer Timothy Everett Beall for Maryland wrongful death. Holloway-Lilliston died last year in a Baltimore motorcycle accident that occurred during a high-speed police chase. Now, Connie Holloway-Johnson is seeking $40 million.

Holloway-Johnson believes that her son’s death was caused by Beall, who, per an investigation report by he Maryland State Police, kept following the 27-year-old even after he was ordered to “end the chase” and he had turned off is siren and lights. Distracted by radio communication and his telephone, Beall’s police car rear-ended Holloway-Lilliston, whose body ended up bouncing off the vehicle. These findings are counter to what Beall told investigators when he said that the motorcyclist “crashed out in front of him.” No criminal charges have been filed against Beall.

Police Pursuits

According to Maryland lawmaker James Malone, the state’s law regarding handheld cell phones while driving is not tough enough. Delegate Malone, a Democrat from Baltimore County, is supporting a bill that would make using a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle a primary offense. Hopefully, such a bill will stop more people from distracted driving with their phone or PDA so that they don’t cause a Maryland car crash.

Under the current law, talking on a handheld phone while driving is a secondary offense, which means that the ban can only be enforced if the driver is being cited for another violation. Also, although drivers are banned from sending text messages, they are allowed to retrieve and read them. Malone and others also want to make the text messaging ban tougher. Sen. Jim Brochin, D-Baltimore County is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would make it illegal to also read texts while driving.

According to the Maryland State Highway Administration, in the past five years, there have been over 380 distracted driving fatalities in the state. Distracted driving, as described by US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is an epidemic. It was the cause of 5500 fatalities in the US in 2009—yet many people, when they can get away with it, continue to text, talk on the phone, send emails, surf the Internet, or play games on their cell phone while driving. Although talking on a handheld device is not safe either, at least the driver has both hands on the steering wheel.

A distracted driver can be held liable for Baltimore County personal injury or wrongful death if his/her failure to pay attention caused a catastrophic Maryland car accident. There are steps that an experienced Baltimore personal injury law firm can take to prove that a driver was distracted when the Maryland traffic crash happened. For example, there may be phone records that can be obtained to match up when the crash happened and when a call was taking place. A witness may have observed the distracted driver texting.

Md. Bill to Tighten Cell Phone Use While Driving, ABC News/AP, February 16, 2011
Distracted driving epidemic: U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood calls issue a ‘personal crusade’, Sea Coast Online, October 24, 2010
Related Web Resources:
Cellphone Laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Distraction.gov

Related Blog Posts:
US DOT Holds Second Annual Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 22, 2010
Maryland Injury News: Distracted Driving Blamed for Increasing Number of Fatal Teenage Automobile Accidents, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 17, 2010
Maryland Auto Injury News: Distracted Driving Blamed in Baltimore Woman’s Death following Fatal Howard County Crash, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, June 26, 2010

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Washington Irving Wheeler died in a Carroll County motorcycle crash on June 10. The 41-year-old was riding his bike south on Md. 30 when he was involved in a traffic collision with a Chevrolet Cavalier whose driver was attempting to make a left turn. According to police, Wheeler was not at fault in causing the Maryland motorcycle accident.

His death is the third Carroll County motorcycle fatality this year—an increase from the two Carroll County motorcycle deaths in 2009. On March 31, Westminster resident William Parry was killed after his bike and a motor vehicle that was also making a turn collided. In an unrelated traffic crash, motorcyclist Brian Ecker, died on May 15 when his motorcycle struck a fence and a mailbox.

In another recent Carroll County, Maryland motorcycle accident, two local residents suffered injuries on June 12 when the motorcycle they were riding and a car collided at the intersection of Broadfording Road and Md. 63. The motorcycle struck the driver’s side of the 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo as it pulled out from the stop sign. The two riders were thrown from their bike.

Police are saying that there is a huge tree at that intersection that obstructs the view from both roads, which makes it likely that both drivers couldn’t see each other. The motorcycle driver, 41-year-old Michael Destefano, was flown to University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in critical condition. His girlfriend, 45-year-old Christine Biddinger, was treated for a collapsed lung, chest injuries, and a broken arm.

Carroll County man in critical condition after motorcycle accident, Herald Mail, June 12, 2010
Md. 30 crash is Carroll’s third motorcycle fatality this year, Carroll County Times, June 16, 2010
Related Web Resources:
2010 Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program , Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration
Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports even though more car accidents happened in urban areas, 56% of the 37,261 traffic deaths that occurred in 2008 took place on rural roads. There were 20,905 rural traffic deaths last year.

One reason for the number of deaths that occur in rural areas is that people tend to drive faster on roads that are not as designed and engineered as well as they are in urban areas. Two of the other reasons that rural auto accident deaths happen is people failing to use seat belts or driving drunk. It can also take longer for medical help to arrive at a rural car accident site. 222 of the 591 Maryland traffic fatalities in 2008 occurred in rural areas.

Findings from another traffic accident study, recently discussed in ScienceDaily.com, affirmed the NHTSA’s findings that driving in rural areas is not safer than driving in urban areas. The study, conducted by researchers abroad, reports that:

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs continues to destroy too many lives. Drunk driving and drugged driving are both careless acts that can be grounds for a Maryland car accident lawsuit if someone gets hurt or dies. On a positive note, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new roadside survey reported that the decline in the percentage of legally intoxicated drivers is continuing. Per the new survey, just 2.2% of drivers had a BAC of .08 or greater—compare this figure to 1973, when 7.5% of motorists had BACs registering at the legal limit or exceeded it.

The survey, gathered from roadside locations in 2007, also screened for other substances. 16.3% of nighttime weekend motorists tested drug positive for marijuana (8.6%), cocaine (3.9%), as well as prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs (3.9%). Drivers for the survey were chosen at random and given the opportunity to volunteer while remaining anonymous.

Out of 11,000 motorists, 90% gave breath samples and 70% gave saliva samples. Any motorist that was impaired or appeared to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was not arrested. However, he or she wasn’t allowed to get behind the steering wheel of the vehicle.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that while he was pleased that the fight against drunk driving is making headway, it was imported to remember that 13,000 people a year still die in US drunk driving crashes. He also emphasized the importance of reducing drug abuse and drugged driving.

The NHTSA wants to figure out how drug use is connected to driver impairment—especially as some drugs can stay in the body for weeks.

Other survey findings:
• There were 42% more male drivers than female motorists with illegal BAC levels.
• Motorists were more likely to be driving with a BAC greater than the legal drunk driving limit between 1am and 3am than during other hours of the day.

• Motorcycle riders were two times as likely to be drunk than the drivers of passenger vehicles.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drugs are a factor in 18% of motor vehicle driver fatalities.

Driver Survey Finds Less Drinking, More Drugs, NY Times, July 13, 2009

Results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, NHTSA (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Impaired Driving, CDC
Drugged Driving

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Baltimore County police say that two people were sent to an area hospital after they were involved in an Owings Mills multi-vehicle collision on Friday that ended when one car drove into an M & T Bank branch. The Maryland traffic accident occurred when a Hyundai Sonata struck a Toyota RAV4 that was at a red light, which then hit a Lincoln Navigator. Meantime, the Hyundai drove over a curb and into the bank. Fortunately, no one inside the bank was hurt.

In a Baltimore car accident that also occurred on Friday, police are looking for the driver of a van that fatally hit a man riding a dirt bike on Chatham Road. The van’s driver failed to stop at the crash site. Police are asking for any information that could lead to the capture of the driver involved in the deadly hit-and-run Maryland motor vehicle crash.

Also on Friday, Clinton resident Franklin Trowell sustained critical injuries in Howard County when a car hit him on eastbound Route 32 close to Interstate 95. Trowell had been standing on the shoulder of the road examining another accident when the catastrophic Maryland car crash occurred. The driver of the car, Leonard Supsic, 55, reportedly lost control of the 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier that struck Trowell.

Maryland Personal Injury

It can take some time to determine how much financial recovery you are entitled to receive after you’ve been injured in a Maryland motor vehicle accident. This is why it is important that you don’t rush to settle your car accident claim immediately. Your injuries may be more serious than you think, which means they could cost significantly more to recover from than what original estimates suggest. There also may be other parties that can be held liable for your Maryland personal injuries.

Clinton man in critical condition after being hit by car, Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2009
Police seek van driver who fatally hit man on dirt bike, Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2009
Three-vehicle accident sends car into bank, Baltimore Sun, May 30, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Car Accidents Overview, Justia
Personal Injury, Nolo

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According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, about 83% of the 609,000 Marylanders traveling 50 miles or more over the Memorial Day weekend will travel by car—that’s 508,000 motor vehicle riders. A decrease in local gas price is one of the reasons cited for an increase in road travelers from last year. Air travel is also expected to increase this year by 7%. Another reason cited for this rediscovered travel bug is that a poor economy has forced hotels, cruises, airlines, and car rental companies to lower their prices.

With more people getting into their cars and heading toward vacation destinations and family reunions, the roads will likely be more crowded this weekend. Traffic and the excitement and rush to arrive at a specific location can create a less relaxed travel climate that can increase the chances that a motorist might become involved in a catastrophic Maryland car accident.

Here are a number of safe driving tips to help you navigate your way through the Memorial Day weekend:

• Make sure you have your maps organized and travel routes planned before leaving.
• Check the Internet, listen to the radio, or watch TV to see where there may be traffic backlogs that you can avoid.
• Make sure that your car is in proper working condition before you head out.
• Have a roadside emergency kit with you.
• Get plenty of rest before you drive.
• Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination.
• Take periodic breaks while driving so you don’t get lethargic or drowsy.
• Don’t speed.
• Obey traffic laws.
• Don’t talk on the cell phone or text message or read maps while driving.
• Drive defensively.
• Don’t drive drunk.

• Keep emergency numbers at your disposal.

More Marylanders to hit the road this weekend, Baltimore Sun, May 21, 2009
Related Web Resources:
AAA Mid-Atlantic
MD Roads

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