Factors That Affect Compensation in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident Claim
Summer is the deadliest season throughout the year for motorcycle riders to enjoy their favorite activity, so now is a good time for some reminders on the dangers. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MD DOT) reports that 40% of all motorcycle accidents take place during June, July, and August, comprising 559 crashes of the total 1,395.
The causes behind motorcycle accidents are varied, but here are some interesting statistics:
- Around 1 in 4 motorcycle collisions in Maryland take place in Baltimore and Baltimore County.
- More than 77% of all motorcycle crashes cause at least one fatality or injuries to one victim.
- Approximately 40% of all accidents involving motorcycles occur on Saturday and Sunday.
- Riders tend to have higher levels of alcohol impairment, as 27% of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve an impaired operator.
- Half of all motorcycle collisions occur during daylight hours, and 78% happen in good weather conditions.
In Maryland, to recover compensation as an injured motorcyclist, you must prove that you were injured because the at-fault motorist failed to drive safely and further, that the at-fault driver’s negligence was the proximate cause of your injury. Assuming you can prove the at-fault driver was negligent, there are still many factors that impact the amount of recoverable monetary damages.
Consider these examples below;
Part of the point of compensation in a motorcycle crash case is paying you back for the economic losses you sustain due to your injuries. These are the consequences that are tangible, definite, and can be measured in terms of dollar value. They include:
- Medical costs to treat your injuries, such as ambulance transportation, emergency room treatment, surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other care;
- Expenses related to permanent disability and long-term complications from motorcycle accident injuries, including wheelchair, adapted vehicle, and at-home care;
- Lost wages, if you are unable to work while recovering from your injuries;
- Future earning capacity losses, for individuals who cannot return to their former employment after a motorcycle accident; and,
- Out-of-pocket expenses to treat your injuries, including prescriptions and transportation to physician appointments.
One key factor that affects compensation relating to economic losses depends on having sufficient proof or evidence of such losses. Examples of documents which prove economic losses, might include, receipts, paystubs, invoices, and income tax records. These are just a few examples.
Severity and Nature of Your Injuries
Some losses are intangible and personal to your experience, so they are not quantified. These non-economic damages relate to how the bodily harm you sustained affects your quality of life. They include things like pain and suffering endured. The severity and nature of your injuries can have a significant impact on your personal relationships, lifestyle, favorite activities, and enjoyment and the manifestation of how these injuries disrupt your personal life will be unique to your personal circumstances.
Proof is more of a challenge with non-economic damages to document or evidence because a victim’s experiences are so personal and subjective. However, often, friends and family members can attest to their personal, first-hand observations, as to how the injured victim’s behaviors have been altered by their injuries.
Strength of Evidence on Fault
While documentary proof and contributions from medical experts are useful for proving your losses, you still have a burden to meet for establishing fault. As mentioned, the primary theory of liability in motorcycle accident claims is negligence. It refers to the failure to drive safely, but the specific definition is breach of the duty to drive as a reasonably prudent motorist would. Examples of negligence include:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Failure to yield right of way;
- Texting, talking on the phone, and surfing online; and,
- Other forms of distracted driving, such as eating, using a GPS, or changing the radio station.
Your compensation after a motorcycle collision is directly linked to the strength of your evidence on fault. This is the reason capturing evidence following a collision is critical, where possible.
Consequences of Contributory Negligence
You might not expect that the focus will be on your own conduct in a motorcycle crash, but the opposing side – typically an insurance company – will certainly probe your actions. Maryland follows the law of contributory negligence, a harsh rule that prevents you from recovering any compensation if YOU did not exercise reasonable care while operating your motorcycle. The same examples above could be grounds for application of the law, but other forms of contributory negligence in a motorcycle accident may include:
- Riding between lanes of traffic, i.e., lane splitting;
- Running red lights and stop signs; and,
- Carrying a passenger on a solo motorcycle.
Note that failure to wear a helmet is NOT grounds to claim contributory negligence against you, though going without is unlawful and extremely dangerous.
Your Choice of Attorney
Perhaps the most important factor that impacts compensation after a motorcycle accident is the legal counsel you retain to represent you. Obviously, you want a lawyer who is knowledgeable, has a law degree, and is licensed to practice in Maryland. There are other qualifications to consider, so make your attorney possesses:
- A dedication to personal injury cases, ideally a primary focus;
- Extensive experience with motor vehicle accident claims, specifically motorcycle crash cases;
- Business relationships or affiliations with experts, including medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists, and financial analysts;
- A history of successfully negotiating settlements with insurance companies;
- Experience representing clients in mediation, which is an informal process designed to get the parties closer together on settlement; and,
- A strong track record with litigation, including drafting the complaint, responding to motions, handling discovery, and dealing with depositions.
Get in Touch with a Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Right Away
The above factors can have a profound effect on your recovery of monetary damages after a motorcycle crash. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact us to set up a no-cost case review with a skilled motorcycle accident attorney.