You would not think that people would need reminding that motorcycle riders have the same rights as drivers on the road. Too many motorcycle accidents are the result of people forgetting or perhaps just ignoring this fact.
Our Maryland motorcycle accident lawyers see far too many of these claims. Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, but a lot of this danger comes from car and truck drivers who are distracted or just fail to consider motorcycles when looking both ways.
When another driver fails to respect the rules of the road and causes a motorcycle accident, the resulting injuries are often far worse for the bike rider. Therefore, it is up to the motorcyclists to ensure that these other drivers are held accountable.
What Causes These Failure to Yield Accidents?
In Maryland, approximately 32% of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. Approximately 15% of the time, the accident occurs at an intersection, while the remaining 17% happens on the open road. When you think about it, this is a fairly noteworthy statistic: more accidents happen when motorcycle riders are driving down the street in the same direction as cars than at intersections. You would think it would be the other way around, right?
National data shows more of a 50/50 split between intersections and the open road. But the national statistics show that in 35% of motorcycle accidents, the other driver caused the crash by failing to yield to the motorcycle. Motorcycle riders, on the other hand, failed to yield in only 4% of accidents. Obviously, this shows that motorcyclists are typically not the problem when it comes to multi-car accidents. The inattentive, misinformed, or incorrect motorist usually causes them.
The reality is that safe motorcyclist rarely causes an accident. Sure, there are tons of motorcyclists getting themselves killed driving like they belong in an insane asylum. Our attorneys see this all of the time. But if you are operating a bike safely, you have a great feel for the challenges on the road and fewer encumbrances to operating the vehicle safely.
If you are inattentive, you often have an easy ability to correct your mistake; because of the ease of a motorcycle. What you cannot protect yourself against with ease is the negligence of another motor vehicle, and when that happens, the consequences are significantly amplified.
Why Are Drivers Not More Attentive?
We live in a world where distracted driving is the norm. Where texting and driving seems to be more common than paying attention and driving. While this presents an issue for all drivers on the road, the risk is especially high for motorcycle riders.
Motorcycles are smaller, less visible, and frankly easier to miss. When you check your blind spot (hopefully) before you merge, you are looking for a car, so your brain may not process the fact that a motorcycle is in your blind spot, even though you are staring right at it. Plus, we have to deal with bad drivers, drunk drivers, and speeders, who only make motorcycle riders’ lives more stressful.
Verdicts and Settlements in Failure to Yield Cases
Below are verdicts and settlements in failure to yield cases of motorcycle accident lawsuits. Except for the Miller & Zois verdict, these were plaintiffs’ victories we pulled at random to give you some sense of the value of these cases. But these are short summaries.
It is hard to know what a case was really about in just a summary. Please do not think that you can find a similar case and assume that is the value of your claim. This cuts both ways. These verdicts seem to be surprisingly small. Ultimately, this is one tool of many to help you get a better grasp of the possible range of settlement or trial value of your claim.
- 2023, Baltimore City: $148,172 Verdict: The decedent was riding his motorcycle across an intersection when a police cruiser struck him and knocked him down after failing to yield. The decedent suffered a skull fracture, intracranial hemorrhage, and multiple fractures to his left leg. He died the next day. Its somewhat surprising that this verdict was not significantly higher.
- 2020, Baltimore County: $2,458,000 Verdict: Truck driver allegedly failed to yield the right of way to the plaintiff on his oncoming motorcycle, causing a collision. The plaintiff suffered crush injuries to his right leg, including fractures to his right femur and tibia and nerve damage requiring surgery followed by physical therapy, resulting in the permanent loss of feeling in his right foot and a combined right leg/lower extremity impairment rating of 46 percent.
- 2019, Carroll County: $100,217 Verdict: The plaintiff suffered a closed head injury with headaches, dizziness and memory loss, a fractured right knee and right tibia with nerve damage affecting his right thigh which resulted in chronic numbness, loss of strength and limited motion, as well as an unspecified right shoulder injury and aggravation of preexisting neck and back injuries, when his motorcycle was struck on the right side as he attempted to execute a left turn on his motorcycle into a business parking and was struck by the defendant.
- 2017, Baltimore City: $10,000 Verdict: The defendant changed lanes without yielding to the plaintiff on his motorcycle causing an accident. The plaintiff alleged soft tissue injuries only as well as lost wages and other damages. Jury awarded only $10,000.
- 2016, Baltimore City: $32,903 Verdict: The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle on the highway when the defendant failed to yield when merging from an exit ramp and struck the plaintiff’s motorcycle on the side. The plaintiff suffered unspecified personal injuries.
- 2014, Anne Arundel County: $9,233, Verdict: The plaintiff, a nurse, is riding her motorcycle down Mountain Road in Pasadena. As she cruises down the road, a car suddenly turns out in front of her, causing a collision. She suffers back injuries that aggravate a previous condition. She decides to sue the driver for her medical bills and pain and suffering. The driver admits that he failed to yield but contests damages. The jury returns a verdict for her medical expenses but not pain and suffering.
- 2012, Baltimore County, $390,000 Settlement: Plaintiff is driving his bike down the Baltimore Beltway in the left lane. A work truck does a U-turn in an emergency cut-through and drills our client. He had a rib and elbow fractures. They denied liability with what were really quite goofy defenses. After a mediation with a retired judge at our law office, the defendant changed their tune and offered $390,000 to settle the claim. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- 2011, Baltimore County: $10,575, Verdict: While driving through a four-way intersection, a motorcycle rider is about to complete a left turn. Just as they begin to clear the intersection, another driver turns out in front of the rider, forcing him to swerve and lay his bike down. He suffers injuries to his foot, including broken bones. The driver apologizes on the spot. The rider sues the driver for medical expenses and pain and suffering related to the crash. Specifically, he alleges that the driver failed to yield to the rider. The driver argued that the rider was actually responsible for the accident because he should have avoided laying his bike down. The jury disagreed and awarded the rider compensation. But they certainly did not believe his injury claims, awarding him a paltry amount for broken bones.
- 2011, Prince George’s County: $53,000, Verdict: A 25-year-old college student was riding his motorcycle to his mother’s house on Mother’s Day. As he rode down the street, he approached an intersection that was controlled by a stop sign. When he approached the intersection, a car suddenly turned out in front of the motorcycle, causing a collision that resulted in the rider being ejected from the driver’s car. He suffered severe wrist injuries, which required open surgery. The rider sues the driver, alleging that the driver failed to yield to him. The driver claims that he simply did not see the rider. Thus, he must have been speeding. That argument had no legs, thankfully.
- 2011, Montgomery County: $40,000, Verdict: A motorcyclist is riding with his son as a passenger. They ride down a street that has a center turn lane. When they enter the turn lane, they collide head-on with a car. The rider’s son suffers minor injuries, but the rider sustains a torn rotator cuff, which requires surgery. The rider filed a lawsuit against the driver, claiming that the driver did not yield the right of way to the motorcyclist, with the driver claiming the converse. The jury determined that the driver did not yield the right of way to the motorcyclist and awarded damages accordingly.