Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Serving Maryland and Virginia

You May Be Entitled to Compensation if You Are Injured

If you or someone you love enjoys riding a motorcycle, you know they have the same right as any other law abiding citizen, to drive on the roads in Maryland or Virginia. Motorcyclists are entitled to the same protection of the laws as any other vehicle operator on the roadway. Nevertheless, there are some factors that make motorcycle collisions more difficult than a regular car accident case and in many cases, it would be prudent for an injured motorcyclist to hire an attorney.

Is the Deck Already Stacked Against You?

To a motorcycle enthusiast, there is simply no greater feeling than riding fast on the open road with the wind at your back. Nevertheless, motorcycles and the individuals who operate them are both viewed by the public at large as unsafe. This perception of motor cycle operators being "rebels without a cause," is likely due to statistics released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which indicate that a motorcyclist is on average, five times more likely to be injured in a roadway accident. If you've been injured in a motor cycle accident, the perception of the general public may already be working against you. A recent study stated that over 2,600 motorbike crashes occurred in the state of Maryland in just one year. The same study also stated that approximately 69 of these crashes were deadly for the motorcyclist.

Additional data has shown for example, that in 2010, over 4500 motorcycle accidents resulted in fatalities. Motorcycle accidents have estimated over 12 billion dollars in medical expenses and loss in productivity. The Center for Disease Control did a study in June 2012 which shows that universal helmet laws could save, in addition to lives, money. The study explains how helmet use can drastically reduce the cost of medical expenses when an accident occurs as well as fatalities.The Center for Disease Control also eports that motorcycle accidents have more than doubled between 1999 and 2008.

What most people don't account for, is that frequently, another driver - whether intoxicated, driving recklessly, or failing to notice the motorcyclist - is the one that causes the fatal crash, and winds up walking away with minimal to no injury.

Additionally, although riding a motorcycle can be a fun and efficient way to travel, motorcycle accidents when they occur, are more likely to result in serious and debilitating personal injuries and even death. For example, although they account for only 2.5 percent of registered vehicles in Maryland, motorcycle accidents involving motorcycle riders account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Why the Public Perception Matters

Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. all employ doctrines frequently referred to as contributory negligence and assumption of risk laws. What these laws do, is they oeprate as a complete defense to negligence claims where a Defendant can show that the motorcycle operator was contributorily negligent in some manner, or otherwise assumed a known risk of injury. Given the public perception of the danger of motorcycle operation and the high likelihood of injury or death in a collision, these defenses presented by the insurance companies are often successful. Accordingly, motorcycle operators who are victims of negligence of third-party drivers will likely need to present their case in the strongest light possible. In some instances, hiring an experienced attorney or legal team will be the wisest course of action.

 

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Back to the Basics: Contributory Negligence and Maryland Car Accidents

Motorcycle Personal Injury Laws in Maryland and Virginia

A motorcyclist who is injured in an accident in Maryland or Virginia may be able to recover damages. Often, motorcycle accidents are caused by another vehicle driver not seeing the motorcycle, or by not anticipating the space that a motorcyclist needs to react to their vehicle movements (such as braking or changing lanes). In Maryland and in Virginia, the negligence laws of these states operate to protect motorcycle riders from the careless mistakes of other vehicle operators, just as they would protect any other vehicle operator.

If you or your loved one was injured in a motorcycle collision, you may be entitled to compensation not only for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but also for the repair or replacement of your damaged motorcycle. You may also be entitled to compensation for reasonably foreseeable future medical treatment, or other non-economic damages for serious injuries such as;

Maryland Helmet Laws

In 1967, the federal government required each state within the United States to implement a universal helmet regulation. This required each state to enforce laws that would mandate the use of helmets for all motorcycle drivers. In exchange the federal government would allow those states to quality for federal highway funds. As of 1975 all but three states had complied with these regulations. However, in 1976 Congress revoked federal authority to enforce penalties for non-compliance. Therefore, many states began to relax helmet requirements to motorcycle operators. Most states enforced helmet regulations only for young or inexperienced drivers.

Maryland has a law that requires motorcyclists to wear DOT-approved helmets. In addition to helmets, all operators are required to wear protective eye-wear. For more details on Maryland’s helmet law, see the Motor Vehicle Administration’s website here. However, if you have already been in a motorcycle accident and were not wearing a helmet, you are not necessarily negligent.  In 1970 Maryland case, Rogers v. Frush, the Court of Appeals of Maryland ruled that riding a motorcycle without a helmet is does not make a rider contributorily negligent, and does not relieve automobile drivers of their obligation to drive their vehicles in a careful and prudent manner.

In the 1989 case of Doehring v. Wagner, the Maryland Court of Special appeals revisited the issue of contributory negligence and not wearing a motorcycle helmet. In that case, the Court held that riding a motorcycle at high speed without a helmet at night and without headlights was contributory negligence. However, many factors were at play in Doehring aside from the motorcyclist not wearing a helmet. Of course, wearing a motorcycle helmet in Maryland is always strongly encouraged, and motorcyclists could face steep fines for not doing so. Additionally, helmets have been proven to reduce the possibility of head trauma in motorcycle accidents.