Here in the Baltimore area, pedestrians and bicycle riders who travel near or mix with urban traffic are constantly at risk of being injured or possibly killed by a distracted or careless driver. Whether the individual is behind the wheel of a passenger car, city bus or large box-type delivery truck, the consequences for the victim can often be serious, if not deadly. Not only in this area, but also in other parts of the state, as well as in the District of Columbia, a single lapse in judgement or a moment of distraction on the part of a motorist or commercial trucker can put an innocent person in the hospital, or worse.
There are numerous causes of pedestrian-related traffic collisions, but one of the more common reasons these days is distracted driving. And while one might expect professional drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to be more alert and less apt to operate their vehicles in a hazardous or unlawful manner, even experienced commercial truckers can succumb to the appeal of smartphones and other electronic devices in the cab of a large and potentially lethal commercial vehicle.
Of course, the average pedestrian will rarely give much thought to the possibility of being badly hurt in a trucking-related traffic accident, but these incidents can and do take place all around the state. Although persons on foot may not consider the odds of being injured by a passenger car or CMV, bicycle riders often do think about the detrimental effects of a traffic collision when navigating the roadways in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Columbia or Bowie.
During the course of the day, throughout Maryland, the opportunities for innocent people to be seriously hurt as a result of an accident caused by a commercial truck driver can be quite high. As most anyone would agree, any collision between a large commercial truck and a cyclist will usually result in significant bodily injury, if not death. As trucking-related injury accident lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understands very well the risk that individuals on bicycles, and motorcycles as well, take with each mile they travel in heavy traffic.
When it comes to cycling-related injury cases involving a commercial truck, one of the more important aspects will be the determination of fault on the part of one or more parties. Once responsibility has been established, it will be necessary to show the court the specific damages that apply to the case, such as the various expenses and costs borne by the victim in terms of medical, rehabilitation and work loss. In pedestrian- and bicycle-related trucking accidents, the responsible party(s) will usually be held liable for the victim’s accident-related injuries, as well as future medical care arising from the aftermath of the accident.
As personal injury attorneys, our skilled legal team knows how serious a trucking-related pedestrian accident can be. For the victim, the physical and emotional repercussions of this kind of collision are hardly easy to forget. And while physical scars may linger, for many victims who survive such horrendous collisions, the pain and suffering that follows can be agonizing and long-lasting. Sadly, more than a few cycling accident victims never fully recover from the injuries that accompany a commercial trucking crash.
For all drivers, not just commercial truckers, it is important to be mindful of the accident potential that exists whenever pedestrians or bicycle riders are nearby. Especially in urban areas, the ability to identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations can mean the difference between life and death for the cyclist, as well as a costly personal injury lawsuit for the motor vehicle operator.
Understand the Bicycle Rider’s Vulnerability
With the increased popularity of bicycles for both transport and exercise, it should not be surprising that the opportunity for severe truck-related bike accidents in cities such as Annapolis, Baltimore and the District is higher than ever. Not only are young people out and about on our state’s roadways, but senior citizens as well. It should also be remembered that those individuals who represent the older segment of the population are not as likely to “bounce back” as younger cyclists following a traffic-related accident.
Because of the increase in bicycle use, plus the addition of bike lanes on higher speed thoroughfares, it is important for motorists to consider the vulnerability that bicyclists face when close to vehicular traffic. Remember that even the lightest car is many times more massive than any bicycle-rider combination; in the event of an impact with a two-ton passenger car, a person on a bike will almost always come out on the losing end.
Recognize the Rights of Bicyclist Riders
While a large number of Maryland passenger car drivers probably have no idea of specific bicycle-related traffic laws, commercial truck drivers should be much more aware, at least on a percentage basis. In fact, it is safe to say that some motorists may even think that cyclists are required to keep to the sidewalk with other pedestrians; however, this can be a faulty assumption in that many urban areas actually prohibit the riding of bicycles on public sidewalks.
As professionals, most truck drivers should know that a bicycle being ridden on the street is considered by law to be a vehicle, and the rider must therefore obey the rules of the road just like any motor vehicle operator is required to do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cyclists 10 years of age and older should operate their bicycles as though it was just another vehicle on the roadway. This includes traveling in the same direction as the rest of the vehicular traffic, and obeying the same traffic laws as other motorists.
But there are important differences, particularly in terms of visibility and vulnerability, which make cyclists much more susceptible to injury. Although a bicycle rider may be considered equal in legal terms to a passenger car driver or commercial trucker, the latter group must still be cognizant of the dangers posed to cyclists by their larger and much more massive vehicles.
In particular, car and truck drivers should always check for bicycle riders in the area whenever attempting to make a turn, as well as when merging into a designated bike lane or even when opening a vehicle door. Maintaining constant awareness of potential accident situations presented by cyclists can go a long way toward reducing the chances of a serious or fatal accident.
In cases where a commercial truck driver is suspected of negligence following the injury or death of a bicycle rider, the personal injury specialists at Lebowitz & Mzhen are prepared to assist the victim and his or her family to file a claim against the responsible party(s). Our legal staff is ready and able to help pursue a personal injury lawsuit, or in the case of an untimely death caused by the driver of a commercial vehicle, a wrongful death lawsuit.
We urge anyone, motorist, pedestrian, cyclist or motorcycle rider who has been severely injured in a trucking-related traffic accident to contact a qualified attorney to better understand his or her rights and options. Please note that having a skilled injury attorney at one’s side when pursuing compensation following an injury-related car or truck accident is not only a good idea, it can be a smart choice, especially when dealing with large companies, such as shipping firms, interstate trucking corporations and the insurance companies under whose policies they operate.
The legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen has the training and skills needed to handle bicycle-related injury claims. If negligence is suspected on the part of the trucker, you owe it to yourself and your family to take advantage of our free, no-obligation legal consultation. Take a moment to consider the benefits of retaining an experienced trucking accident attorney and call us toll-free at (800) 654-1949. If you wish, we can be contacted via an email message to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen. We will be happy to arrange a one-on-one meeting to review your case.