As commercial trucking attorneys with expertise in personal injury law, the legal staff at the offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understands the risk that all people -- motorists, joggers, runners and bicyclists – assume whenever they getting behind the wheel or, for pedestrians, venture anywhere near vehicular traffic. Roadway hazards and unpredictable traffic situations can have a devastating effect on a percentage of unlucky individuals all across the state of Maryland and in the District of Columbia each year.
While motorists and their passengers have some protection from the impact of another motor vehicle, pedestrians have no such defense. But although individuals on foot can be at great personal risk if struck by a car or truck when crossing the street or standing at a bus stop, motorcycle riders have a constant exposure to the dangers of traffic accidents, as well as being virtually unprotected from severe injury if they are hit by another vehicle. Automobiles can certainly be a great threat to bikers in accident situations, but commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) can present deadly hazards on the beltway and urban streets.
From Annapolis to Rockville, as motorists we all face the possibility of an injury-related traffic accident from time to time; and while not every roadway collision results in serious injury, for motorcyclists the percentages rise considerably simply because of the reduced amount of protection that motorcycles provide their riders. Bikers simply do not have the benefit that occupants of passenger cars,SUVs and minivans, even pickup trucks -- this includes individuals who travel by choppers, cruisers, so-called crotch-rockets, and scooters.
At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our experience has shown that not only the negligent actions of motorists can result in a bad motorcycle-related injury accident, but the actions of professional drivers -- commercial truckers and other CDL-holding individuals -- frequently result in a serious truck-motorcycle collision, which can lead to catastrophic results for the rider. Even truck drivers who should know better, and who have been trained and certified, can risk other people’s lives by the simplest of acts. Talking or texting on a phone, eating while driving, adjusting the radio or operating a navigation system -- each of these activities have the potential to distract a truck driver to the point of causing a serious injury accident.
As personal injury lawyers, we have helped numerous victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents to recover damages following a serious traffic wreck. As professionals in the area of auto injury law, we understand that physics is generally not kind to motorcycle riders, especially in terms of accidents involving larger passenger vehicles and massive commercial trucks. Sadly, in the aftermath of a truck-motorcycle crash, bikers and their passengers rarely fare well from a medical standpoint. Of course, as a victim who survives such a collision, the pain and suffering that ensues is sometimes the least of one’s worries, since many victims never fully recover from such accidents.
While it is incumbent on all drivers to be mindful of other vehicles on the road at all times, the fact is that motorcycles present a much reduced profile than even the smallest economy car. Although not invisible to other motorists and professional truckers, bikers are often well advised to assume that no one can see them. Riding with this assumption in mind can help a rider maintain a modicum of risk management so as to, hopefully, avoid becoming a statistic.
For those drivers who are concerned about the possibility of hitting or injuring a motorcyclist, the following points may help to save the life of a motorcycle rider or keep someone out of the emergency room.
Understand the Motorcyclist’s Vulnerability
Considering the seasonal aspect of motorcycling, it is not surprising that springtime can be one of the more dangerous seasons for riders here in Maryland, as well as other areas of the U.S. The small size and relatively light weight of the typical motorcycle, not to mention scooters, means that collisions rarely have good outcomes.
Giving motorcyclists a little more room when driving near them can not only help to reduce stress levels on the rider’s part, but also add that extra bit of cushion, which may help the motorist to avoid striking the biker if a traffic situation arises. It is also important to realize that just as a motorcycle can accelerate very quickly -- more quickly than most sports cars -- a biker will normally be able to stop faster than an average car. Furthermore, because a motorcycle and rider presents a smaller silhouette (with smaller brake lights, as well), a motorist traveling behind a bike may not react as quickly once the rider ahead hits the brakes.
The chances of a collision will rise with reduced following distance of the passenger vehicle. This type of situation is only made worse if the vehicle following a motorcycle is a large commercial vehicle; this is because of the extended stopping distances exhibited by these more massive CMVs. The bottom line is that, for increased safety on the beltway and interstate, motorists and truckers alike should give motorcycles a little more safety margin.
Reconsider Your Attitude
One of the problems that can plague the motorcycling community is the way in which other motorists view them -- not so much on an individual basis, but as a group. This can be due to the stereotypical biker image portrayed in movies and the negative media coverage of a small percentage of bad actors within the greater universe of motorcycle riders. It is that scofflaw or trouble-maker image that can color the attitudes of other motorists, and even professional drivers from time to time.
Because of the very poor perception of motorcyclists in general that some passenger car and commercial vehicle drivers embrace, the way bikers are treated on the roadway may not be very favorable. And while not everyone may hold the same feelings for motorcycles and their riders, it only takes just a small percentage of motorists who might not respect the rights of riders to cause some serious and perhaps deadly collisions. Perhaps the best way to think about bikers, in general, is to remember that each rider is a human being -- not just a biker, but a son, daughter, spouse or parent. Humanizing motorcyclists instead of being judgmental can help put things back into perspective.
Always Signal Your Turns
As personal injury attorneys working in the area of auto and trucking injury law, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows full well that roadway intersections can be one of the more likely places for a bad trucking-related wreck especially involving motorcycles. This is particularly true when making a left-hand turn. Judging the speed of an oncoming motorcycle can be difficult, even for a seasoned professional truck driver. If a trucker also fails to signal his intention to turn as a biker is approaching, there can be an increased risk of a collision.
Of course, regardless of the initial cause of a serious trucking-related motorcycle wreck, the injuries sustained by the biker will often be significant. Our personal lawyers are ready, willing and able to assist victims and their families recover damages following a negligence-related commercial trucking accident.
The legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen has the skills and training to help. If negligence can be proven, you certainly owe it to yourself and your family to take advantage of our free, no-obligation consultation. Please give us a call, toll-free at (800) 654-1949; or e-mail either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to arrange a one-on-one consultation to discuss your personal injury case.