It does not take a background in physics to know that a bike rider is at extreme risk of being injured or killed in a bicycle accident, considering the faster, heavier vehicles surrounding them. However, statistics compiled by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MD DOT) are still disturbing. More than 82% of all crashes involving bikes lead to at least one death or injured victim. Several riders are killed, and more than 700 are hurt yearly in bicycle accidents, typically because of motorist negligence. To put things into perspective, only 30% of collisions in Maryland lead to casualties when you look at all traffic-related incidents.
Maryland follows the harsh rule of contributory negligence, so taking risks could have unintended consequences. Still, it is not just drivers that engage in careless acts. Bicycle riders can also be negligent, increasing the potential for crashes and affecting your rights. An Owings Mills lawyer specializing in personal injury can describe the details; some basics are helpful.
How Contributory Negligence Works in Maryland
Traffic crash claims are typically based upon the theory of negligence for liability purposes. You must prove that the at-fault motorist failed to exercise reasonable care behind the wheel and that this misconduct was the direct cause of the crash.
Contributory negligence laws turn the tables, focusing on the victim’s actions in causing the collision. In Maryland, the rule prevents you from recovering any compensation if you also breached the duty to exercise reasonable care when operating a bicycle.
Some examples of bike rider negligence include:
- Riding in the opposite direction of traffic;
- Failure to use the designated bicycle lanes where available;
- Lane splitting and riding between vehicles that are stopped in traffic, a practice that some bicycle and motorcycle riders employ to maneuver around them;
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Wearing headphones while riding, Texting, talking on the phone, and other cell phone use (“distracted biking”).
The driver’s fault is irrelevant if you engaged in these acts or otherwise failed to protect your safety. You are barred from obtaining monetary damages under the contributory negligence law.
Reasons to Consider Settlement
The above information might seem disappointing, but remember that fault can be blurry in a bike collision claim. From the perspective of the at-fault motorist’s insurer, there is a considerable risk in going to trial. The company might be more amenable to settlement rather than face a potential loss in court. In this sense, the contributory fault rule could be an advantage in facilitating payment.
An Accident Attorney Will Fight for You
Contributory negligence is a harsh law, but there may be strategies for overcoming the challenges. For more information, please get in touch with Michael A. Freedman to set up a no-cost case review at our offices in Owings Mills or Glen Burnie, MD. It would be best if you talked to an accident attorney for advice in cases involving injuries resulting from an accident.