For many, the thrill of riding along the open road on a motorcycle is more than just a pastime – it is a way of life. However, riding a motorcycle carries a greater risk of injury in the event of a crash. Because of their small size, motorcycles are often more difficult for other motorists to see. In the event of an accident, bikers can also be sent flying more easily. The consequences of these accidents can be dire and even deadly.
If another driver’s negligence caused you harm, contact The Bishop Law Group today online or at 410-390-3101 to discuss your case for free with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. Our firm welcomes clients from Baltimore, Ocean City, and other Maryland communities. You don’t owe us any fees unless we win.
Is It Worth Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
In the aftermath of a serious motorcycle accident, your whole focus should be on healing, not trying to quickly learn Maryland’s legal system. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can handle every aspect of your case and give you the best chance possible at recovering the maximum compensation you deserve. After a wreck, a motorcycle accident attorney can:
In order to recover compensation for your injuries, you will need to prove the other driver’s negligence with factual and compelling evidence. Some motorcycle wrecks are more complex than others, especially when they involve multiple vehicles.
An attorney understands the complexities of motorcycle accident cases and knows how to gather pertinent evidence such as police accident reports, witness statements, traffic camera footage, and more. Your attorney will use this evidence to build a strong case on your behalf.
Prove Your Damages
Your attorney’s ability to prove your damages and how your injuries have affected your life and future is essential. A motorcycle accident lawyer will work closely with medical experts to determine the extent of your current and future medical costs.
Medical records do not necessarily focus on describing how your injuries relate to an accident. This is the job of your attorney. A skilled lawyer will investigate every aspect of your wreck to determine its cause and how the negligence of the at-fault party may have played a role in your injury and subsequent losses.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Seasoned motorcycle accident attorneys are skilled communicators and negotiators. When dealing with the at-fault party’s insurance company, a lawyer will represent your best interests and try to achieve a fair settlement that reflects the full extent of your losses.
Insurance companies prioritize their own best interests and notoriously try to get away with paying as little as possible. Lawyers are familiar with insurance company tactics and will fight for the true value of your claim.
Take Your Case to Court
Your attorney will know what your case is worth and will not hesitate to take a claim all the way to trial if the insurance company refuses a fair settlement. At The Bishop Law Group, we take pride in being trial lawyers. We don’t measure success by the volume of cases we settle; we pride ourselves on the difference we make in our clients’ lives.
We prepare every case as though it will go to trial. We aren’t intimidated by big insurance companies with extensive legal teams, and we have a record of success to prove it.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
The Maryland Department of Transportation estimates that 1,395 motorcycle accidents occur in our state each year. Of these crashes, more than 70 motorcyclists are killed and roughly 1,200 riders and passengers are injured.
Motorcyclists are uniquely vulnerable in collisions with other vehicles and objects like guardrails and trees. Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than cars and, unlike car passengers, bikers aren't protected by a metal frame or cushioned by an airbag.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
Speeding has been a primary factor in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities for the past two decades. In 2019, speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Exceeding the speed limit is dangerous for everyone on the road, especially for motorcyclists. The faster you drive, the more time you need to slow to a stop. When a vehicle collides with a motorcycle at high speeds, the motorcyclist is far more likely to suffer life-altering injuries or even die in the crash.
A recent study reports that 9 percent of fatal wrecks, 15 percent of injury wrecks, and 15 percent of all police-reported automobile wrecks in the United States were caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving occurs anytime a driver’s attention is taken away from driving. This can include activities such as:
- Talking on the phone
- Adjusting dash controls such as air conditioning
- Reaching for objects in the car
- Talking to another occupant in the car
There are two types of drinking and driving offenses in Maryland. The first and most serious offense is Driving While Under the Influence (DUI). This offense involves drivers who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater. Under Maryland law, a BAC of .08 or above is referred to as “under the influence per se.”
The second drinking and driving offense is Driving While Impaired (DWI). A driver with a BAC of .07 is assumed to be impaired by alcohol.
Alcohol impedes a driver’s ability to see clearly, comprehend traffic signs and conditions, and react in a safe, timely manner. Drunk drivers are also more likely to become drowsy and fall asleep at the wheel. All of these alcohol-related conditions make drunk drivers a danger to everyone on the road – especially motorcyclists, who are particularly vulnerable in vehicle collisions.
The danger and consequences of drowsy driving are major problems in Baltimore and the nation. Drowsy driving involves the deadly combination of operating a motor vehicle and sleepiness or fatigue. While drowsy driving is usually the result of a driver not getting enough sleep, it can also occur because of alcohol consumption, medications, and untreated sleep disorders.
Falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous, but simply being sleepy can affect a driver’s ability to drive safely even if he or she doesn’t fall asleep. Drowsiness can make it more difficult to pay attention to the road, affect the ability to make good decisions, and slow a driver’s reaction time to motorcycles and other vehicles and conditions on the road.
A driver who is found guilty of aggressive driving in Maryland could face a fine of up to $500 and lose 5 points from his or her license. A motorcyclist who is the victim of an aggressive driving accident could face catastrophic, lifelong injuries.
In Maryland aggressive driving is defined by committing, at the same time or during a single continuous period, 3 or more of the following violations:
- Violating traffic lights with steady indication
- Overtaking and passing vehicles
- Passing on right
- Driving on laned roadways
- Following too closely
- Failure to yield right-of-way
- Exceeding a maximum speed limit or posted maximum speed limit
Improper Lane Changes
Lane change accidents can occur for a number of reasons. However, in nearly all cases of lane change wrecks, motorcyclists are far worse off due to the motorcycle’s smaller size, open design, and lack of safety mechanisms such as airbags and a reinforced compartment.
Drivers of passenger vehicles can seriously injure motorcyclists when they:
- Fail to check blind spots
- Fail to use turn signals
- Drive while distracted or intoxicated
- Drive aggressively
Of all types of motorcycle crashes, collisions with vehicles turning left are the most common. In 41 percent of 2019’s fatal two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles, the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.
Furthermore, Department of Transportation data shows that 53 percent of crashing path collisions occur during a left turn. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of similar accidents result from right turns.
Failure to Yield
A major contributing factor to left-turn accidents and all motorcycle accidents that occur in intersections is another driver’s failure to properly yield to bikers. National statistics show that in 35 percent of motorcycle crashes, the other driver caused the crash by failing to yield to the motorcycle. In comparison, motorcyclists failed to yield in only 4 percent of accidents.
Motorcycles are smaller, less visible, and easier to miss in blind spots than passenger vehicles. When drivers aren’t attentive at intersections and along roadways, they are at risk of failing to yield to a biker and causing a wreck.
Like all mechanical products, motorcycles are susceptible to defects at any stage of the design or manufacturing process.
Defects in the design stage of a motorcycle can include improperly designed parts that increase the risk of an accident. For example, a design that places an ignition source near a motorcycle’s fuel tank can increase the likelihood of an explosion or fire in the event of a wreck.
When a defect occurs during the production stage, a manufacturer may use poor quality materials for parts, placing the motorcycle component at an elevated risk of malfunction. For example, malfunctioning brakes can cause a sudden loss of braking power and cause a crash.
If a defective automotive product causes an accident and injuries, the parties responsible for the faulty design or manufacturing of the product should be held accountable for their negligence.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Maryland?
Lane splitting, or “white-lining,” describes the act of riding a motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow-moving or stopped traffic. Lane splitting is illegal in Maryland. In fact, California is the only state in the country to allow lane splitting; the act is prohibited throughout the rest of the United States.
Although Maryland law prohibits motorcyclists from moving into the same lane as another motorist or operating in the area between lanes or lines of traffic, it is okay for bikers to ride two abreast – a practice known as lane sharing.
What Is the Motorcycle Helmet Law in Maryland?
All motorcycle riders in Maryland are required by law to wear a helmet that is certified to meet the standards established by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Essentially, motorcycle helmets comprise four key components:
- Outer shells: The outer shell is designed to disperse the initial blow to the shock-absorbing liner and resist penetration. It may be composed of fiberglass, graphite, polycarbonate, carbon fiber, Kevlar, thermoplastic, or a blend of these materials.
- Shock-absorbing liner: The shock-absorbing liner helps absorb and disperse the shock of an impact. It is a firm polystyrene system approximately 1 inch thick.
- Comfort liner: This liner improves the helmet's overall fit and comfort. It may be microfiber, brushed nylon, velour, or terry cloth.
- Retention system (chin strap): The chin strap secures the helmet to the rider's head. A chin strap must be fastened securely in order for the helmet to function properly.
Catastrophic Injuries in Motorcycle Accident Claims
In some cases, motorcycle accidents result in only mild-to-moderate injuries like road rash, lacerations, or minor bone fractures. Although each of these types of injuries requires prompt medical care, most people can recover from them relatively quickly and are usually able to regain full function and feeling (albeit with perhaps a few scars).
However, because motorcycles do not protect riders like other motor vehicles, bikers often suffer much more significant injuries in a crash, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- Amputation injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Long-term or permanent disabilities
In the most tragic cases, a motorcycle accident can result in death. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, you may be able to pursue damages for your emotional and financial losses in a wrongful death lawsuit. While no monetary compensation can undo the loss of someone dear, compensation can help your family stay financially afloat during this difficult time.
Who Is at Fault for a Motorcycle Accident?
Before pursuing compensation for your injuries, you must identify the party or parties who are legally liable for the motorcycle accident. After a crash, it is in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney understands Maryland law and has the resources necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, determine the cause of the wreck, and identify the party or parties that may be responsible for your injuries.
Potential parties that may be held liable for a motorcycle accident include:
- The driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash
- The employer of a driver who caused your wreck while on the clock
- The government entity responsible for maintaining the safety of a defective roadway
- The manufacturer of the motorcycle or motorcycle part
- The manufacturer of the motorcycle or safety equipment
- The business that sold alcohol to a drunk driver
Maryland follows a strict contributory negligence law that prohibits recovery if the claimant contributed to the accident in any way. Under the law, injured parties cannot argue that defendants bear sole responsibility for an accident even if the defendants are 99 percent responsible.
Because of this, it is critical to work with an attorney who has extensive experience and a history of success in motorcycle accident cases. The lawyers at The Bishop Law Group have a combined experience of more than 75 years helping accident victims recover the full and fair compensation they deserve.
How Much Is a Motorcycle Accident Case Worth?
Every motorcycle accident case is unique. There are a number of factors that go into determining how much compensation an accident victim can recover in a motorcycle accident lawsuit. When determining the value of your claim, our attorneys will consider a number of factors, including:
The Extent of Your Injuries
While motorcycle accident injuries can be devastating, they vary in severity and impact depending on the circumstances of the wreck. The injury may involve a sprain, a broken bone, or complete paralysis. The cost of your medical bills and the length of your recovery can vary greatly depending on these details.
The Cost of Your Medical Expenses
It may not be possible for an accident victim to ever fully recover from his or her injuries. For example, a complete spinal cord injury may require rehabilitation to teach a victim how to use adaptive technologies and live with the permanent loss of function and feeling. Throughout the duration of recovery and rehabilitation, which could last for years or even a lifetime, motorcycle accident victims may rely on a team of medical experts such as:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Pain specialists
Reduced Earning Capacity
When calculating damages after a motorcycle crash, your attorney will assess the amount of work you had to miss because of your injury. This includes work you may have already missed, as well as any work you will miss in the future. Even if you are able to work in some capacity again, it may not be in the same position, for the same hours and wages that you once worked. This reduction in earning capacity must be factored into your damages.
The Emotional Impact of Your Injuries
Determining the way an injury has impacted your life involves more than only your physical and financial losses. The mental and emotional toll your injuries have inflicted must also be taken into consideration. These are known as non-economic damages, and they can include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Emotional distress, such as grief, depression, and anxiety
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
Your attorney will consider a number of factors when placing a value on your non-economic losses, such as:
- The psychological impacts of your injury
- The severity of the accident
- The physical impacts of your injury
- Your overall health, employment status, and financial condition
- Your age
- How long you will likely experience these impacts
- Other ways that your injury affected your ability to participate in the daily activities of living
How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Motorcycle Accident in Maryland?
Like other states, Maryland has firm deadlines to file claims. These deadlines, known as the statute of limitations, define exactly how long you have to file a lawsuit after suffering injury to cover your personal injury or property damage.
In most cases, the statute of limitations in Maryland for personal injury cases is three years after the date of the injury or the date the injury was discovered( known as the “date of discovery”). In most motorcycle accident cases, the date of discovery is the day of the crash because that's when a reasonable person would realize he or she has a claim. However, the date of discovery in a medical malpractice case could be much more complicated.
This means that if you were hurt in a motorcycle wreck on January 1, 2021, the lawsuit must be filed by January 1, 2024. If your claim is against a Maryland government entity, the deadlines are usually shorter.
If someone dies as a result of negligence that caused a motorcycle accident, the family of the deceased may bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party in a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is also three years. However, the clock begins running from the date of the death, not necessarily the date of the accident.
Because of the statute of limitations, it is crucial to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as quickly as possible to begin building your case. If the deadline for filing a lawsuit passes, you may miss your only chance to seek the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Additionally, even if you believe the statute of limitations has expired for your claim, it may still be beneficial to consult with an attorney. There are certain circumstances in which you may be able to pursue damages after the statute of limitations has passed; an experienced lawyer can advise you of your rights and legal options.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
Safety must be the top priority for any motorcycle rider. Ways you can improve your safety and reduce the risk of an accident and injury include:
Undergo Training and Get Licensed
You must have a motorcycle license to operate a motorcycle in Maryland. One way to get a motorcycle license is to complete the Basic Rider Training at a motorcycle safety training center. If you are an experienced rider but don’t have a motorcycle license, you may be able to participate in Maryland’s Fast Track Licensing program. You can prepare for this by studying the Maryland Motorcycle Operator’s Manual.
Wear the Right Gear
Before hitting the road, it’s important to put on well-fitted, motorcycle-specific protective clothing. Your full-gear set-up should include:
- DOT-certified helmet with face shield or protective eyewear
- Protective jacket
- Protective pants
- Over-the-ankle boots
It is also a good idea to choose riding gear that features bright colors and retro-reflective decals to increase your visibility in traffic, especially at night.
Inspect Your Motorcycle
Perform an inspection on your bike before every ride. During the inspection, check the following:
- Tires: Air pressure, tread depth, wear, no bulges or embedded objects
- Wheels: Spokes, rims, cast, bearings, seals
- Brakes: Function, pads, discs
- Handlebars: Handgrips, bar, turning ability
- Levers and pedal: Lubrication, condition, proper adjustment
- Cables: Not frayed or kinked, no interference or sharp angles
- Hoses: No cuts, cracks, leaks, bulges, chafing, or deterioration
- Throttle: Moves freely, snaps closed, no revving when handlebars are turned
- Battery: Terminals, clean and tight, electrolyte level, held down securely
- Headlamp: Proper function, mounting, and adjustment
- Tail lamp/brake lamp: Activates upon front brake/rear brake application
- Turn signals: Flash correctly
- Switches: All switches function correctly: engine cut-off, hi/low beam, turn signal
- Mirrors: No cracks clean, tight mounts, and swivel joints
- Levels and leaks: Engine oil, gear oil, hydraulic fluid, coolant, fuel
- Frame: No cracks at gussets, accessory mounts, look for paint lifting
- Suspension: Front forks, rear shocks
- Chain or Belt: Tension, lubrication, sprockets
- Center stand and side stand: No cracks, springs in place, tension to hold the position of the bike
Signal Your Intentions to Other Drivers
Always signal before changing lanes. Flash your brake light when you are slowing down and before stopping. Avoid weaving between lanes.
Give Yourself Plenty of Space
Allow sufficient space for emergency braking and avoiding crashes. When you change lanes, do so gradually. Many motorcycle accidents occur because the other driver simply did not see the motorcyclist at all. Keep this in mind while driving; expect the unexpected and ride defensively, as though you are invisible to motorists.
In 2019, more than 4,700 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents. Of those bikers, 29 percent were considered drunk, with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Operating any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is incredibly dangerous, especially so for motorcycle riders. Make sure you ride sober 100 percent of the time.
The seasoned attorneys at The Bishop Law Group are passionate about helping our clients move forward after a serious wreck. We are committed to helping injury victims and their families obtain the full and fair compensation they deserve during one of the most frightening and difficult times of their lives.
If you’ve been in a crash, our attorneys can help. We have extensive experience with a wide variety of motorcycle accident claims. We know how insurance companies try to shortchange injury victims, and we won’t back down from seeking the maximum compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.
Don’t face your injuries alone. Call the motorcycle accident lawyers at The Bishop Law Group today at 410-390-3101 for a free case evaluation. We serve clients throughout Maryland, including Baltimore, Ocean City, and other areas.