Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents in Maryland

While vehicles are required to “share the road” with motorcyclists, any rider knows that this does not always happen.  In these days of mobile devices and instant communication, motorcyclists face increasing dangers on the road.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that often common sense driving on the road is not often rewarded in Maryland.  The main reason for this is Maryland’s position on contributory negligence.

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident in Maryland, contact Baltimore motorcycle accident lawyer Ken Gauvey today for a free consultation. Read on for more information about how negligence is proven in a Maryland motorcycle crash.

Contributory Negligence Laws in Maryland

The problem with recovering for negligence in Maryland is that the Maryland Courts are one of the few courts in the country that do not recognize the doctrine of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence provides that a jury can determine the level of fault in negligence and award damages based on each actors proportional share.  Most of the country has adopted this form of negligence determination.  Maryland has whole-heartedly rejected it both in the legislative and judicial branches.

Instead, Maryland has adopted a contributory negligence standard.  With contributory negligence, the fault must be proven to be one-sided in order to recover damages. If the plaintiff in such cases is determined to be at fault in any way, the law in Maryland prohibits recovery from negligence actions.  This doctrine is especially harmful to those riding motorcycles on Maryland roads.

A good example of doctrine in action involved a motorcycle passing in an intersection in 2015.  In that case, two vehicles were stopped at an intersection attempting to make left-hand turns.  The roads at that particular intersection were single lane.  Vehicles were evidently passing those stopped vehicles on the left, preventing them from making their turns.  As the motorcyclist approached the intersection, he slowed down to make sure the vehicle would not turn in front of him.  The motorcyclist then passed the stopped vehicle on the right, but did not cross the white line while passing.  The jury found that the motorcyclist was contributorily negligent in passing the stopped vehicle on the right on a one-lane road.  The motorcyclist was unable to recover.  The appellate court upheld the verdict.  This case demonstrates not only the importance of following the rules of the road, but also the necessity of aggressive litigation in these cases and setting reasonable expectations.

Liability in Motorcycle Accident Settlements

This is the exception rather than the rule though.  In general, motorcyclists are subject to the whims of the drivers around them.  More often than not, motorcycle accidents occur directly as a result of negligent drivers who are simply not paying attention.  In these cases, contributory negligence is not even an issue.  In these cases, liability is not often contested, but rather the issue becomes one of damages.  This does not mean that motorcycle accidents will result in a quick settlement or abbreviated process.

Motorcyclists are often at a disadvantage in such discussions.   The primary reason for this is that Maryland provides that insurance companies do not have to provide for personal injury protection. This means that in negligence cases, individuals in motorcycle accidents do not have a quick way of providing some relief from medical bills.  Insurance companies know this and can threaten to drag out negotiations while medical bills are potentially sent to collections.

This is where an experienced personal injury attorney is necessary.  Attorneys have an easier time of negotiating stays on medical bills when there is litigation pending.   Attorneys also make sure that the insurance companies do not take advantage of the particular quirk of the denying of PIP benefits to motorcyclists.  This takes away the main strategies of insurance companies and puts the pressure on such companies under threat of costly litigation.

Comparative negligence is not a bar to recovery in these cases.  While the threat is there and is often raised by insurance companies as a means of forcing a low settlement, the majority of claims do not involve contributory negligence.  It is simply too easy for a distracted driver to not see a motorcycle on the road around them.

Baltimore Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Ken Gauvey Can Help You

Injuries from motorcycle accidents can be severe or deadly.  Families have enough to worry about rather than negotiating with insurance companies who are trying to low-ball in these circumstances.  An attorney cannot only get better results but can also take that burden off of families.

If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident contact our Baltimore personal injury lawyers for a free consultation at (443) 692-7685.  Our main concern is your recovery.


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