Every winter finds Maryland roads a skating rink full of hazards causing incidents, from minor fender benders and off-road skids to serious and life-altering accidents. Driving in winter weather can be hazardous.
Here are the top causes of serious auto accidents in winter:
1. Black Ice
Black ice refers to the transparent coating of ice on a road’s surface, usually resulting from refreezing of melted snow or ice. Black ice is dangerous because it looks like wet pavement. That’s seldom a concern for drivers, however, and they will hit a patch of black ice at normal speeds, causing the vehicle to slide. The seriousness of an incident involving black ice will depend on how much is on the road’s surface, how fast the car was traveling, and the driver’s ability to react quickly.
After roads have been treated and plowed, drivers think it’s safe to hit the highway at normal speeds. Even the best plowed roads can have patches of slushy snow and ice, and for an unprepared driver traveling the speed limit, the slush is as dangerous as ice on the road’s surface. Slush is dangerous for several reasons:
- It collects on your windshield, decreasing visibility
- It keeps your tires from grabbing the surface of the road
- It can hide ice underneath
- Slush can refreeze into ice
3. Failure of Drivers to Remove Snow from Vehicles
Driving with snow on your vehicle is a hazard to every other driver around you. The snow can blow off your car in a powder that reduces visibility for other cars around you, slide off the vehicle and cause slippery conditions for the vehicles near you, or break off in solid chunks of ice that can damage a vehicle’s windshield and startle the person driving it. In Maryland, there is not a specific law for driving in winter weather that snow is removed from your vehicle if it is not impeding your own ability to see clearly, but it is “recommended.” Drivers of snow-covered cars or trucks can be held responsible for any damages resulting from snow or ice falling from their vehicles.
4. Other Drivers
Winter accidents are frequently caused by drivers themselves, such as failure to yield a right-of-way, driving too fast for the conditions of the road, and driving at a speed that creates an inability to stop at traffic signals or signs. In slippery conditions, these accidents frequently compound due to road conditions, making the accident difficult to avoid by other drivers.
5. Poor Visibility
Whether it’s driving in white-out conditions or battling the salty spray from roads, winter weather creates extremely dangerous visibility issues. To make matters even worse, other drivers may insist on using high beams in bad weather conditions such as fog, snow, sleet, or rain. High beams are not intended for use in these conditions, and not only add to your own difficulty seeing, but blind drivers in oncoming traffic.
6. Stalled Drivers on the Side of the Road
If the roads are slick, drivers need to be alert for vehicles that have stalled or skidded off the main roadways. While they may “almost” be off the road, they may still be partially blocking a lane.
7. Indistinct Pavement Markings
Snow-covered roads almost always equal obscured pavement markings such as lane indicators, pedestrian walkways, and “turn only” arrows. If you must be on roads before they are paved, make sure you are in the middle of your lane and use caution at intersections and traffic signals.
If you’ve been involved in a serious auto accident because of another driver’s actions in dangerous winter weather, call attorney Arthur Crum at 301-662-4088 to discuss your case, or contact us here for a free, no-obligation consultation.
A workplace accident is one of the most confusing and stressful events that can happen to you. How did this happen, how will this affect my job, and most importantly, how much financial compensation will I receive to cover my medical bills and lost wages? Here is a brief guide on what to expect when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
1. Determining Eligibility for Workman’s Compensation
First, a bit of good news: almost every business must have workman’s compensation coverage available to cover expenses for on-the-job injuries.
The bad news is that it may be harder to get your claim covered than you expect. The biggest issues usually revolve around proving that an accident was work-related, and that it was beyond your control. In other words, did your actions or negligence cause the accident, and can the injuries you are claiming be traced to a specific incident or reasonably be caused by a repetitive action?
Timing in filing a claim may also be a complication that you don’t expect. An injury may not be apparent immediately after an incident, so it’s imperative that you file a claim as soon as possible after an incident, whether you feel “injured” or not.
If your employer has workers’ compensation covered and you’re a covered employee who has sustained an injury on the job, you’re eligible to file a claim.
2. Will My Wages be Covered if I am Unable to Work?
An approved claim will cover some portion of your wages if you are unable to work. In Maryland, temporary total disability (TTD) will cover two-thirds of your weekly wages, with a maximum weekly benefit of $1080.
If you’re deemed temporarily partially disabled and cannot return to your full job function, you may be assigned part-time work or a light-duty job. This may result in a reduction of your wages. Partial disability wage coverage is generally 50% of the difference between the amount you are being paid at your temporary position and your average full-time wages.
In addition, depending on the extent of your disability following the injury, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD). This amount of this compensation depends on what body part was affected, and how much the body part is impaired. PPD awards are calculated based on the impairment, expressed as a percentage, times a set amount of time expressed in weeks.
3. Will My Medical Bills be Covered?
If your worker’s compensation claim is accepted, all of your medical bills will be covered 100% with no out-of-pocket expense to you. This includes doctor visits, rehabilitation, hospital costs, and prescriptions.
Workmans’ compensation also covers any medical equipment you will need during the recovery process, including things like wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics, medical appliances and devices, and even ramps, bathroom safety accessories, and other modifications necessary for your home and vehicle.
4. What if I Can No Longer Work in My Industry?
If your injury prevents you from working in your industry, financial workplace compensation, you will be eligible for vocational training to train for a job in another industry. These services will include counseling and help in determining a new job interest and job placement services.
5. Pain and Suffering
Workman’s compensation insurance will not directly provide a pain and suffering settlement. You are, however, able to file a personal injury case in court to determine if your injuries warrant a pain and suffering award.
Don’t Leave it to Chance
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s best to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to negotiate with the insurance carrier, and to help determine what additional compensation you are eligible for. Remember that insurance companies are not on your side and will frequently attempt to settle for far less financial compensation than you deserve.
The Law Office of Arthur Crum, PA, will review your case free of charge, and there is no payment for any attorney fee or expenses unless your case is awarded and approved by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Contact us today.
Before we dig into finding out “who’s at fault” after a wreck, let’s go over some myths you may have heard when sidewalk lawyers (those who got their “law degree” by watching CSI) try to determine liability in a car accident.
Myth: Every time you are hit from behind, it’s the other car’s fault: Not so fast. This may be true over half the time, but if it can be proven that your turn signals or brake lights were not working, or that you were driving erratically, you may be held partly responsible for the accident.
Myth: If a police report doesn’t expressly state the other driver was at fault, you can’t file an insurance claim against them: While police reports can be very helpful, it doesn’t always matter if the other driver was ticketed or not. This is why you always need to hire an experienced auto accident attorney.
Myth: If the accident was your fault, you can’t file for compensation: Not entirely true. You may still be able to file a claim even if you were at fault, and you may be able to recover partial compensation if you were partially at fault. Certain insurance benefits, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), may let you file no matter who was deemed responsible for the accident.
Myth: You are always at fault if you hit a pedestrian: This is not always true. Pedestrians who are jay-walking, walking down the centerline, crossing against the light, or darting out from between parked cars do not have the legal “right of way.” Pedestrians in a crosswalk, however, do; even then, depending on the circumstances, you may not be held liable.
Myth: Drivers do not need to call police, exchange information, or notify their insurance if the accident was minor: The truth is that the person you just waved away may come back and file a claim later, claiming significant injuries and damages. In fact, you may be injured yourself and not realize it until hours after the accident. You don’t necessarily need to call the police after a minor accident, but you should always notify the insurance company, get the other driver’s insurance information, find a witness or two, and snap a few pictures of both cars before leaving the scene.
Read on to see how law enforcement and insurance companies determine liability in a car accident.
Pointing Fingers: Determining Liability After a Car Accident
There are certain criteria that both law enforcement and insurance companies look for to determine who’s at fault after an accident. These will all loosely fall under one of four categories:
- Strict liability
- Intentional Misconduct
- Recklessness conduct
Anything that causes you to react (or not react) as expected while driving can be considered neglecting your driver duties. This includes:
- Distractions such as texting or other cell phone use
- Anything that keeps you from scanning the road and paying attention to other drivers
- Driving your vehicle with faulty blinkers, tail lights, brake lights, or headlights
If it’s decided that you neglected your obligations behind the wheel, you will be found at fault.
Friendly Crum Tip: Put the phone down and keep your eyes on the road. Make sure you are driving in a safe, focused way every time you get behind the wheel.
2. Strict Liability
This is generally found in accidents involving things such as malfunctioning lights, missing or fallen stop signs, and other drivers whose actions may have caused your collision, whether they were involved or not.
3. Intentional Misconduct
Did that impact make you drop your beer? Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a type of intentional misconduct, and may adversely affect a decision regarding liability after an accident, even if it wasn’t technically “your” fault.
Friendly Crum Tip: You will not be exonerated from driving while impaired, even if an accident is proven to be the other driver’s fault.
4. Reckless Conduct
This is a blanket term for willful misbehavior behind the wheel such as aggressive driving, speeding, running red lights and stop signs, and other dangerous behaviors.
Friendly Crum Tip: Aggressive driving in Maryland is a punishable offense on its own; it will not be overlooked if it contributed to an accident.
Let a Professional Handle the Insurance Companies
You can see how quickly a “simple” car accident can get out of hand, and how you may be deemed responsible even if, technically, you weren’t. Make sure you have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney on your side to handle everything, from representing you in court to dealing with your insurance company. Got a question about an accident? Contact us now for a free, no risk, no-obligation consultation.
If you haven’t noticed all the “Rookie Driver” stickers on cars, you’ve certainly noticed all the young drivers with obviously stressed adults in the passenger seat. It’s that time of year again, when the newest flock of motorists are hitting the road. Here are 7 driving safety tips to offer to keep them, and those around them, safe as they learn the rules of the road.
1. Enroll Your Rookie in a Driver Safety Class
Driver safety classes are mandatory in the state of Maryland before licenses are issued to new drivers. Enroll them before they start driving so they can learn basic automobile safety, and as a bonus, they get hours behind the wheel with an instructor. This gives them the confidence they need to practice their skills with you.
2. Rookie Stickers Aren’t Just Cliche
When you’re getting your new driver a provisional license, make sure you get a “Rookie Driver” sticker from the DMV. These are also available at Amazon as magnets if you don’t want to deface your vehicle. These warnings work in several ways, from discouraging anxiety-inducing tailgaters to warning others to be alert for sudden, unexpected maneuvers from your student.
3. Start Small
Start in a school parking lot after hours and work up to a quiet neighborhood where your rookie driver can practice. Make sure they work on spatial issues like length of the hood of your car and the width of the vehicle. They can practice backing into spaces, parking, and smooth acceleration and braking techniques. Only after your new driver is confident in these controlled settings will it be safe to take them out on the road. Don’t forget to teach them etiquette at stop signs and roundabouts, as well as sharing the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
4. Take a Deep Breath
Rookies prefer driving with an instructor far more than a parent or sibling because they feel less anxious. Find your inner zen and make sure you project a relaxed, confident attitude with your rookie, even if you’re slamming your foot on an imaginary brake on the passenger side. One tip for this is to consciously take a breath before correcting your new driver; this gives you a fraction of a second to regain control of your emotions and gives the appearance that you are calm. There is nothing to be gained from losing your patience with your new driver, and your fear will be contagious and detrimental to their confidence.
5. Make Sure the Car is Ready for Your Rookie
You may be used to your vehicle’s quirks, but others won’t be. Make sure all fluids are topped off, brake lights and turn signals are working properly, and your tires are full. Don’t let your new driver pull off without adjusting the mirrors, seat, and steering wheel to their own comfort levels, and of course, always wear your seatbelts. Turn off the radio and your cell phones before every lesson.
6. Don’t Forget Car Maintenance Lessons
Make sure your new driver knows how to check and add oil, use a gas pump, and fill the tires. It’s also very handy to teach them to jump start a battery and change a tire. It’s a good idea to get them a roadside service plan for emergencies so you know they will have help when they’re on their own.
Make sure they have all documentation in one spot within the car in case of an accident, and that they understand their responsibilities if they are involved in one.
7. Rainy Day Driving
Once your rookie has the basics down and feels confident behind the wheel, it’s time to let them experience driving in more challenging conditions such as dusk and nighttime, rainy weather, and even snow, if possible. Take them to rush hour traffic jams, roadwork scenes, and tunnels. As nail-biting as this will be for you, it’s important they know how to confidently handle a vehicle in adverse conditions.
Watch Out for Rookie Drivers
If you see a Student Driver sticker on a vehicle, give them space and be patient. You had to learn once, too! Never tailgate or improperly pass a rookie driver, and be alert for sudden stops, lane changes and other unpredictable behavior from the vehicle.
September is here, bringing cooler nights, football, changing leaves, and school buses on every corner. Did you know that Maryland falls in the top ten states for school bus fatalities for students between the ages of 12 and 19? Many times, these accidents occur because an estimated one out of every five teenagers cross streets while engaging in distractions such as phone conversations, texting, listening to music, or playing games on their devices. We want everyone to stay safe when sharing the road with buses and students. Here are five driving safety tips for the back-to-school season.
1. Obey the Signs
Whether it’s a school speed zone or a crossing guard, always obey the signs. Some driving safety tips about signs:
- Never try to “outrun” the crossing guard
- Stop when you spot the school bus flashing yellow or red lights
- School zones mean that you must stop for anyone in a pedestrian walkway
- Never block a crosswalk at a red light or when turning
- Only proceed when a crossing guard waves you through an intersection, even if you don’t see any other kids waiting at the corner.
2. Understand School Bus “Behavior”
A school bus is similar to a tractor trailer in the way it is driven, meaning it’s a large vehicle that needs extra time to stop. It makes wide turns, and has large blind spots.
Don’t “hang out” alongside a bus, and don’t assume the driver knows your vehicle is there. Be aware at intersections where the bus will pull wide for turns. Trying to squeeze past it is a dangerous gamble.
3. Do Not Pass
Remember, your inability to see around the bus makes passing it as dangerous as blindly passing a truck on the highway. Passing a stopped bus is also dangerous for the children who may be crossing the road.
4. Unpredictable Kids
As we discussed earlier, kids are easily distracted. Driving safely means understanding that just because you see them doesn’t mean they see you. Kids seldom understand the risks of their behaviors and will often ignore hazards. Don’t believe it? Think of a child chasing their ball into the street; they probably won’t stop and check for traffic first. In fact, most child fatalities in bus-related incidents are less than 8 years old, and they were crossing the street when struck.
Some of the unpredictable behavior involves distractions, such as using personal devices, while others involve clusters of kids. If you see one child crossing the street, be aware there are probably several others not far behind. Make sure all kids are safely across the street and the bus has turned off all alerts before proceeding.
5. Expect the Unexpected
Allow a safe distance between you and the bus, and expect the unexpected. School bus drivers must come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings, whether there is a train coming or not. Allowing a safe distance will give you more time to stop if the bus driver does something unexpected, and gives you plenty of time to stop when it turns on its flashers.
During slippery conditions, allow even more stopping distance between your vehicle and the bus. Remember that it’s not just ice or snow that creates a slippery surface; wet leaves and rain also make for unpredictable and hazardous road conditions.
Kids Aren’t the Only Ones in Danger
Don’t assume that just because a school bus is driven by a professional, they will always make wise choices. If you’ve been injured in a school bus incident, don’t wait; contact Arthur Crum, PA, and let us evaluate your case.
Here’s a sobering fact: tractor-trailer accidents result in nearly 500,000 non-fatal accidents and 4000 fatalities every year. It’s really not surprising that tractor-trailers, which are between 20 and 30 times heavier than average cars, are involved in so many accidents. After all, it’s estimated there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the US alone.
Why Are There So Many Tractor-Trailer Accidents?
Truck drivers must complete a training program and pass knowledge tests to get a CDL, and many employers require even more training before allowing drivers to hit the highway. With so much required training, why are there so many tractor-trailer accidents?
Many truck drivers are fighting fatigue, using caffeine or other stimulants to get them to the next stop. Still, the scheduling is tight and many tractor-trailer drivers are fighting fatigue that makes them drowsy. Truck drivers often operate regardless of their health status, and some may even be operating their rigs under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Distracted driving is always dangerous, and even more so for truck drivers. A fraction of a second’s distraction at the speeds and weights of tractor-trailers can have devastating consequences.
Not Following the Rules of the Road
Speeding, veering over highway lines, driving unsafely in hazardous conditions, and aggressive driving are all major factors in the numbers of tractor-trailer accidents. In addition, the “blind spot” plays a huge part in accidents as truck drivers attempt to change lanes.
Improperly Maintained Vehicles
Improperly maintained vehicles and other faults with the trucks play a part in accidents. In addition, an improperly balanced load, or one that is too heavy, can cause a tractor-trailer to perform poorly even with the most skilled driver behind the wheel.
What to do if You Are Involved in a Tractor-Trailer Accident
While the stakes are higher in an accident, the steps to take following one are the same as with any other vehicle accident.
Safely Move Your Vehicle Out of Traffic if You Can
The first step is to get your vehicle out of the way, if it’s still drivable. A tractor-trailer accident takes up more space on the roadway, and many drivers will try to go around the incident if possible, and their ability to see your car may be hindered by the truck. Safely pull off to the side of the road if possible.
Notify the Authorities
Call the police immediately, and don’t be afraid to call for medical services even if you don’t think you are injured. Many injuries aren’t apparent at the scene of an accident, and emergency services should evaluate you even if you think you are unharmed.
Exchange driver’s information such as license and insurance. Take a picture of the tags of the truck as well.
Find Witnesses if Possible
With a tractor-trailer accident, you are seldom on the road alone. These accidents tend to happen on highly traveled, busy roadways with lots of other drivers. Finding a credible witness or two can help you prove your case.
While this isn’t the time for finger-pointing, you should gather as much evidence as you can. Witness statements, as mentioned above, are important, but so are photos from the scene. Take numerous photographs of the scene, the truck, and your vehicle’s damages.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Never try to file an insurance claim on your own. These companies exist to find ways to deny claims, and it’s best to leave them to the professionals. A personal injury attorney who specializes in vehicle accident claims is the best way to ensure you get all the post-accident benefits you deserve, such as lost wages, medical bills, and physical or emotional impairments (pain and suffering).
Why Call the Law Offices of Arthur Crum, PA?
Arthur Crum is a leading attorney throughout Western and Central Maryland, and has been recognized for many years as the “attorney’s attorney” for accepting referrals from other law offices for legal counsel following vehicle accidents.
Our objective is to represent all stages of the victim’s case, from the initial consultation to the resolution. We believe in clear and informed representation, keeping in touch with clients every step of the way.
If you’ve been involved in a tractor-trailer accident, it’s not too late to call the Law Offices of Arthur Crum for a free consultation. Contact us now to make sure you make informed choices about your options following the incident.
In the aftermath of an accident, tensions and anxiety run high. You may not even be sure how the accident happened. Witness testimony is an important part of your insurance claim, but having a witness who isn’t credible can damage your claim far more than it will help you.
What do we mean by credible, and what makes a credible car accident witness? Let’s take a look.
What Does “Credible” Mean?
Credible is the quality that makes a witness believable. In other words, a credible witness is one whose testimony is likely to be considered true and unbiased. There are many factors in determining witness credibility, including their demeanor at the scene of the accident. A witness who is under the influence of alcohol or other substances, for instance, is less likely to be taken seriously. Likewise, a difficult or “hostile” witness can be deemed uncredible.
What Makes A Credible Car Accident Witness?
There are many factors in establishing witness credibility, some obvious and some less so.
Willingness to Come Forward
At the scene, credible car accident witnesses may be the first to approach you with phrases like, “I saw the whole thing” or “that driver ran the red light.” A witness’s willingness to come forward with their version of events at the scene is a great start in establishing credibility. A credible witness will be willing to wait for the police and issue a statement, or to write down their description of the incident and contact information if waiting on police isn’t possible.
Your witness’s background may also weigh in on their overall credibility, fairly or unfairly. A witness who has a history of lying to police or who has a criminal record is less likely to be believed. Of course, you won’t know this at the scene of the accident; your attorney will be able to vet your witnesses after the incident.
Relationship to Driver
A witness’s relationship to the driver can affect credibility. It’s hard to believe that a family member or friend would be able to provide a true and accurate account of the incident. Insurance companies may jump on these relationships to discredit the witness’s testimony.
Mental State at the Scene
A credible witness must be clear-headed when providing testimony. Drugs, alcohol, or even cognitive difficulties can cast a shadow over witness credibility. Additionally, some physical impairments such as loss of hearing or, obviously, blindness, will diminish witness credibility.
Location of the Witness During the Accident
A witness’s vantage point is important in establishing credibility. A credible witness will be one that had a clear view of the entire accident and was not distracted when it occurred. To be considered credible, a witness should have seen the incident in its entirety, including what actions the drivers were taking just prior to the accident.
A credible witness’s story won’t change significantly from its first telling. Some changes, such as remembering smaller details, are normal but if the witness testimony continuously changes at its core, it won’t be considered credible.
Gathering Witness Testimony at the Scene
You won’t know if a witness’s testimony will be considered credible or not when you’re initially getting their statement. It’s important to make sure you gather all witness statements at the scene, including contact information.
It’s not your responsibility to vet these witness statements at the time; leave that to the professionals. Your attorney will be able to sort through testimony to see if it will help your claim. If testimony is deemed as not credible, s/he may omit it from your claim altogether.
Your attorney will also make sure that witness testimony “lines up” if multiple witnesses were on the scene of the accident.
Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friends
Insurance companies aren’t out to help you and make sure you receive fair compensation. There are agents within these companies whose purpose is to discredit testimony, lower your compensation, and find ways to deny your claim.
It’s important to have professional legal counsel when dealing with insurance companies, other drivers, and witnesses. Never speak to the other drivers after an accident, and don’t file your claim on your own or submit witness statements to insurance companies until your personal injury attorney has had a chance to vet all the information and explain the best way to proceed.
From the moment of impact, your life is changed forever. Motorcycle accidents are almost always more severe than car accidents, frequently resulting in serious injuries and, in a lot of cases, the loss of your bike. Motorist insurance will cover some of the costs, but keep one thing in mind: the insurance companies are not on your side and will try to avoid paying a claim.
Your actions after a Maryland motorcycle accident could mean the difference between receiving compensation or walking away with bills and injuries that could last a lifetime.
Here’s a look at what to do after a motorcycle accident, and just as importantly, what not to do.
DO: Report the Accident
If the other party is insisting on handling the claim privately, you may be tempted to not report the accident. No matter what the other party says about payments and settlements, always report the accident to have a legal police document regarding the incident. Evaluate yourself and the other driver, and call for emergency medical services if necessary.
DO NOT: Drive Away
Leaving the scene of an accident is a big no-no that will land you in legal trouble. Stay at the scene and await police, even if the other party leaves or insists that notifying the authorities isn’t necessary.
DO: Collect All Information
You don’t need to wait on the police for this step, provided it is safe to communicate with the other driver, your injuries aren’t severe, and you are both calm. Make sure to take pictures of the car, your bike, and the other party’s license, registration, and insurance information. If possible, snap a few pictures of the entire car, not just the damaged areas, to protect yourself from fraudulent claims of damages after the incident.
DO NOT: Underestimate The Severity of Your Injuries
Even if you are walking around following the accident and feeling unhurt, it’s good practice to have a followup with a physician within a day or two of the accident. Many injuries aren’t felt immediately, and will worsen over time. Not having a doctor evaluate your injuries as soon as possible following the accident can interfere with the damages you are seeking following a motorcycle accident in Maryland.
DO: Seek Witnesses
Finding a witness to the accident will help you prove your claim. Make sure to get the witness’ contact information, and inform the police that there is someone who can verify the details of the accident.
DO NOT: Claim Fault
It’s a tricky situation; the natural instinct after an accident is to apologize. Try to avoid generalizations such as “I’m sorry,” and never say anything that could be construed as claiming fault, like “I wasn’t looking” or “I didn’t see you.”
DO: Notify Your Insurance Company
Regardless of fault, your insurance company needs to be notified about the incident. It’s your responsibility to file a claim, even if it “seems” obvious the accident was the other party’s fault.
DO NOT: Talk Directly to The Other Party’s Insurance Company
It’s important not to engage with the other driver’s insurance company without a legally prepared statement. Remember that insurance companies aren’t on your side, and a claim can be denied based on something you inadvertently said or implied.
DO: Get Legal Help Immediately
A lot of things are going on after a motorcycle accident in Maryland, and it’s an overwhelming process full of potential mistakes that could result in your claim being denied. It’s important to retain legal counsel immediately after the accident to protect your legal rights.
DO NOT: Hire an Inexperienced Attorney
Not all attorneys specialize in personal injury and accident litigation. It’s important to find an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to represent you, handling the insurance companies and paperwork for you to ensure you are properly compensated.
DO: Call Arthur C. Crum, Jr.
Arthur C. Crum, Jr. is a practicing motorcycle injury lawyer, serving areas of Western and Central Maryland including Frederick, Hagerstown, Frostburg, and more. To discuss your case, call the law office of Arthur C. Crum, Jr., today. We offer free consultations and there are no legal fees or costs unless we recover for you. Contact us at 301-662-4088.
Nothing can take away the pain of losing a loved one, but the victim’s family members may be eligible to sue for damages relating to the loss. Wrongful death claims are the avenue for recouping all losses, financial and otherwise, related to the incident, vehicle accident, or motorcycle crash that led to the death of an individual.
The term “wrongful death” indicates a death caused by the negligence of another person. This applies to someone who caused a fatal accident, or even a mechanical defect or malfunction that led to the victim’s death.
Motorcycle Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims: What is Covered?
After a motorcycle accident, wrongful death claims can be filed to cover a wide variety of expenses and losses. Some of these include:
- The victim’s hospital and medical care prior to death
- Lost earnings and economic support, both past and future
- Pain and suffering experienced by the victim and the victim’s family
- Funeral expenses such as burial and cemetery costs
- Loss of solace, guidance, consortium, and companionship
- Punitive damages that allow the victim’s family to seek justice for the death
Wrongful death settlements are generally paid out by insurance companies, and insurance companies are in no hurry to pay. It’s always better to hire a motorcycle accident attorney rather than try to take on a wrongful death claim on your own.
Motorcycle Accidents & Wrongful Death Claims: Who Can File?
Every state has different requirements and limitations for who can file a wrongful death claim following a motorcycle accident.
Maryland allows these claims to be filed by a parent, child, or spouse of the motorcycle crash victim. These immediate family members are called “primary plaintiffs.”
If the victim had no parents, spouse, or children a wrongful death claim may be filed by any other family member who depended on the victim and is related by blood or marriage. These “secondary” plaintiffs are only qualified to file if there is no primary plaintiff.
It’s important to understand that not all deaths qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to file a wrongful death claim following a motorcycle accident, there are four things that must be proven:
- Negligence: The defendant’s actions caused the death
- Causation: How the negligence caused the death
- Breach of duty: The defendant had a duty to act, and by failing to do so, caused the death (in a motorcycle accident wrongful death suit for instance, the driver if the other vehicle has a duty to drive responsibly and safely)
- Damages: The victim’s loss has placed hardship on the survivors through mental anguish, financial losses, medical bills, burial expenses, etc.
Courts in Maryland will only allow one wrongful death claim to be filed on behalf of the victim. If the decedent had a will, a probate estate must be opened and the estate’s executor can bring the wrongful death lawsuit.
There is a statute of limitations in Maryland; generally, the wrongful death claim must be filed three years or less following the victim’s death. There are some exceptions, but there are very specific guidelines that must be met to qualify for them.
Why do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed in a civil court, not a criminal court. What this means is that the “bar” for proving guilt is set lower than a criminal suit, but the entire process is still quite complex.
The case will go through many stages including discovery and investigation, strategy planning, expert testimony, witness statements, and tort law research specific to proving the incident was caused by the defendant.
Because the suit is heard in a civil court, the success of the suit is based on the quality of the argument and the credibility of the claim rather than the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard necessary to prove criminal wrongdoing. For wrongful death suits, the preponderance of evidence standard is applied; this means that evidence presented can convince the court that there is a 50% or greater chance that the claim is true. A skilled motorcycle accident attorney is necessary to build the wrongful death case to ensure that this burden of proof is met.
Sometimes, the legal process can involve mediation and out-of-court settlements. If a settlement is not an option, the suit will move into the courtroom. It’s important to remember that wrongful death settlements are generally paid out by insurance companies, and insurance companies are in no hurry to pay.
A wrongful death lawyer is one who specializes in these claims, protecting the victim’s family and ensuring they receive the compensation they are entitled to. For more on our personal injury, motorcycle accident and wrongful death legal services, see our Frequently Asked Questions or contact us now.
For motorcyclists, spring and the open roads are calling. Warm, dry weather should mean clear roads for bikers, right? Surprisingly though, 63% of motorcyclist fatalities in 2019 occurred between May and September. Weather, it turns out, has less to do with accidents than you might think. Instead, studies suggest it’s the time of day you choose to ride that holds the highest risk for motorcycle safety.
The most dangerous times of day to ride your bike will be rush hour and weekend nights. Your biggest risk for motorcycle accidents are on weekdays between 3:00pm and 9:00pm. Weekend motorcycle accidents occurring after 6:00pm, however, accounted for 48% of motorcycle deaths. That means that the highest concentration of accidents occur on weekend nights.
Hitting the streets during times of sun glare and direct sunlight pose significant risks as well. Sun glare causes hundreds of accidents per year, whether from driving into direct sunlight in the morning hours, or dealing with the light transition as it sets in the evening. Riding at dusk carries increased risks of glare when oncoming traffic begins to use headlights.
Sobering Facts About Motorcycle Safety
You already understand that riding your bike increases your risk of accidents as well as your odds of suffering severe injuries from those accidents. Some sobering facts about motorcycle safety:
- A motorcyclist is 29 times more likely to suffer a fatality than occupants in cars.
- 80% of motorcycle accidents will result in injuries with 45% of those injuries severe.
- Two-thirds of single-vehicle motorcycle (no other drivers involved) accidents occur because of speeding.
- Over 50% of multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents (involving other drivers) happen at intersections.
- 40% of all single vehicle motorcycle fatalities occur at corners and when turning.
- In 2019, 34% of motorcycle fatalities involved sport and supersport motorcycles.
- The fatality rate of sport motorcyclists is twice that of conventional motorcyclists while the death rate of supersport riders is four times that of conventional bikes.
- Drunk driving is responsible for one-third of motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle Safety On The Road
To stay safe on the road, it’s advised to avoid rush hour and weekend evenings as well as times when sunlight will interfere with your vision. Since this isn’t always possible, here are a few motorcycle safety tips to keep you safe.
1. Wear Protective Gear
Motorcycle helmets can lower your risk of a head injury by 69%, and decrease your risk of death by over 50%. When choosing a helmet, the National Highway Safety Administration stresses the importance of having the right fit.
Always wear sunglasses or protective goggles as well as long pants, boots, gloves, and a heavy jacket. Avoid loose-fitting clothing, and choose bright, highly visible colors. Since the majority of motorcycle accidents happen close to home and on short trips, get in the habit of wearing your protective gear every time you hit the road.
2. Obey Traffic Laws
Stop at lights and stop signs, use your turn signals, and obey speed limits. All traffic laws apply to motorcycles as well as cars.
Drive defensively and always assume that other vehicles can’t see you on the road. This means using extra caution when making lane changes and turns. Try to keep yourself out of a driver’s blind spot, and always be alert to unexpected turns, stops, and lane changes.
Lane splitting for any reason is illegal in Maryland. If you must pass a vehicle, follow the same traffic laws that apply for passing in a car.
3. Avoid Distractions
Distractions when driving in a car are bad enough, but being distracted on your motorcycle can be fatal. When riding your bike, avoid:
- Using electronics
- Adjusting your music while in motion
4. Keep Your Bike Maintained
Routine maintenance of your bike is a crucial part of motorcycle safety. Low tire pressure, cracked hoses, leaking gas tanks, and poorly lubed chains can all result in a situation where your bike fails you, and when it does, it will be at the worst possible time.
Seasonal maintenance is important to keep your bike running safely and reliably.
5. Ride Sober
Motorcycle safety can be complicated enough when you’re sober. Don’t drive drunk, or even tipsy. Accounting for a third of all motorcycle accidents, drunk driving is not just unsafe; it’s illegal.
It’s not just alcohol that can land you in big trouble; Maryland recognizes “Drugged Driving” as cause for a DUI. In other words, a DUI covers any substance that impairs your judgement, slows your response time, and clouds your thought processes.
Stay Safe on the Road
With more bikes gearing up for the warm weather, motorcycle safety is more important than ever. Stay visible, stay alert, and stay safe.