Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accident

Road accidents involving motorcycles are statistically some of the most dangerous and deadly types of crashes. According to a press release from the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration, over 80% of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist. With numbers like that, motorcyclists should educate themselves on the most common causes of motorcycle crashes, and be vigilant in exercising appropriate safety precautions when taking a bike out on the road.

Motorcycles are some of the smallest motorized vehicles on the road, and the vehicles themselves offer little, if any, protection in the event of a crash. Cars and trucks have been designed with safety features in mind since they became widely used on American roads. Most cars include seatbelts, airbags, and are structurally designed to protect the occupants in the event of a crash. Motorcyclists do not enjoy the same safety features on their bikes. These safety deficiencies can be somewhat offset by the improved maneuverability and stopping distance offered by a motorcycle, but the fact remains that if a crash does occur, the biker is at considerable risk.

Motorcyclists have the ability to use additional safety equipment in the event of a crash. By far, the most important piece of safety equipment is a helmet. Wearing a helmet greatly reduces the risk of serious injury or death to a rider in the event of a crash. The Maryland Transportation Code, Section 21-1306 requires that anyone driving or riding on a motorcycle wear an approved helmet. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) evaluates and grades helmets that are on the market. Riding with a DOT approved helmet is important, as many less expensive helmets on the market today are not sufficient to protect a rider from an accident occurring on public roads or highways.

Left turns present some of the most dangerous situations on Maryland roads. When compounded with nighttime driving, the operators of any vehicles may be rightfully concerned for their safety when other vehicles are making left turns. Maryland motorcyclists are even more threatened in these situations, as their vehicles can be harder to see, and the consequences of a crash are often more severe. A tragic crash earlier this month killed a motorcyclist after a driver failed to yield the right of way when making a left turn on a Southern Maryland highway.

According to a local news report discussing the accident, a 73-year-old man was driving a pickup truck on MD Route 6 and performed a left hand turn onto a smaller road near the town of La Plata. The 18-year old victim, who was operating a motorcycle on Route 6 in the opposite direction, crashed his bike into the pickup truck after the older man failed to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic while performing the turn. First responders were called to the scene and first aid was rendered as the victim was transported to a nearby hospital, but the medical professionals were unable to save the man and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. The article notes that driver error appears to be the cause of the crash, and no mention was made that drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.

How Dangerous Is Driving a Motorcycle in Maryland?

Maryland motorcyclists have always been at an elevated risk of being seriously injured or killed while using the roads in our state. This increased danger causes many motorcyclists to use enhanced safety equipment while riding their bikes, but some serious injuries cannot be prevented, even by the most advanced safety equipment. The bottom line is, Maryland motorcycle riders have just as much right to travel safely on our roads as any other drivers. When a negligent driver causes an accident that seriously injures or kills a motorcyclist, they must be held accountable for the damages caused by their mistakes.

Motorcycles can be harder to see when on a busy road for a variety of reasons, and this means that it is especially important for all drivers and pedestrians to take extra precaution. Motorcycles are much smaller than cars and trucks, which can lead them to be more difficult to see from a distance. The average motorcycle ranges from 75-100 inches long, with a heigh of 40-60 inches. A car’s blind spot may cause motorcycles to be hidden from view temporarily, which can be dangerous for motorcyclists. In addition, some drivers may misjudge the speed at which a motorcycle is going, which can result in injuries.

In a recent news report, a motorcycle collided with a car in Pennsylvania, resulting in a 58-year-old motorcyclist’s death. A trauma doctor pronounced him dead shortly after his arrival at the local hospital. According to preliminary investigations, the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. A car was headed northbound and began to turn left, and the motorcyclist was heading south and unable to avoid a collision, striking the passenger side of the vehicle. The driver of the car revealed to police that she didn’t see the motorcycle approaching due to the low sun.

Driving and riding in any type of motor vehicle comes with its own set of risks, and motorcycles are no different. According to the National Higway Traffic Safety Admnistration, 42 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes that involved another motor vehicle involved a vehicle turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking a vehicle. When drivers approach an intersection and are turning, their view of oncoming traffic is partially obstructed, but driverss should take the time to wait until they are able to see around an obstructions to ensure it is safe to proceed. Any time you approach an intersection, it is important to take extra time to ensure that you use your rear and side view mirrors to ensure that nobody is in your blind spots.

Motorcycle accidents are one of the most dangerous incidents and often result in serious injuries and fatalities. According to the most recent statistics by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDT), Maryland motorcycle accidents accounted for about 2% of the total number of accidents in the state. However, motorcycle crashes comprised almost 15% of all the fatal accidents in the state. Moreover, four out of five of the passengers killed in these accidents were not wearing any safety equipment. In combination with the steady increase in motorcycle accidents, these startling statistics highlight the importance of motorcycle safety for both operators and passengers.

Motorcycle passengers and operators are more vulnerable to serious injuries because of the lack of protection from impacts with other vehicles or objects. Moreover, motorcycle passengers are often thrown from the bikes after a collision occurs. These situations can result in the passenger being run over by oncoming traffic, slammed into the concrete, or thrown into a guard rail or similar static object.

For example, a news report recently described a tragic motorcycle accident that involved a bike and a sedan. According to a preliminary investigation, the motorcycle crossed through a center line and slammed head-on with the sedan. Law enforcement reported that the motorcycle driver suffered serious injuries, and the passenger died.

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.

Beall 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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The 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.

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

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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