Imagine an occurrence that happens across the state all of the time. A pedestrian (or perhaps a bike rider) is enjoying the day. He or she is doing nothing wrong until you fail to cross the street in a marked crosswalk. You’re just a few feet over the line. Suddenly, a vehicle screeches from behind, slams into the individual, and he or she flies into the air before hitting their head on the ground. That driver is intoxicated. Who is at fault?
Most people would say that the driver is at fault and should cover all of the damages the individual suffered. After all, the driver was breaking the law, he or she lost control over the vehicle, and that driver struck another person. The problem is, that’s not what’s happening under current Maryland laws. This is why it is so important for you to seek out legal help if you’ve been in an accident on a bike or just walking the dog. With a bike accident attorney, such as our team at DuBoff & Associates, Chartered, you’ll gain more insight into what happened.
Luckily, some laws may be changing, thanks to SB 465.
Senate Bill 465 was a bill specifically designed to provide protection to bike riders and pedestrians as adopted in Washington, D.C. two years ago. It would help to protect your right to file a claim against the negligent party and receive full compensation for what is owed to you. To understand how, we need to discuss comparative negligence and what it means.
Currently, the Maryland law system is comparative negligence-based; it’s contributory negligence–no excuse or negligence on your part or you cannot recover at all. Harsh, but that’s the MD law right now. In comparative negligence, which the Senate Bill 465 proposed, a legal defense can work to reduce the amount of damages a person can recover based on the degree to which the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the injury. this form of negligence, a legal defense can work to reduce the amount of damages a person can recovery based on the degree to which the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the injury.
Let’s make this simple and see why it is so devastating to many people who have suffered injuries and losses. In our above example, the pedestrian did have some fault involved. That person did not walk within the lines of the marked crosswalk. It could have been just a few feet. He or she may not have even noticed. Under current laws, some of the negligence in the case then can be attributed to the pedestrian.
Now, had that individual been within the crosswalk and obeying every other law, the drunk driver would be fully responsible for the losses. But, in this situation, the driver’s legal defense could help to protect them from full negligence claims like this. That’s what comparative negligence would provide for.
However, SB (comparative law) works toward changing that. Under this law, it means, simply, that the driver’s negligence is not minimized in any way when the other party is minimally at fault. It’s clear that, in this situation, the pedestrian had no way of knowing the risk, and should not have suffered loss. Washington DC has this law now. And, these bills are not new. Over 46 other states have them in place. Maryland is simply lacking in this key area.
For many people in Maryland, one thing is for sure. We’re busy, active people with a lot on our mind and plenty to do. However, this is one bill that every person that walks on the sidewalk or rides a bike needs to take note of. The reason is simple. Insurance companies are working hard to block SB 465. The bill could mean they would have to pay thousands – even millions – of dollars more to the average person.
Here’s an example. In the above example, the court may determine that the pedestrian is 10 percent at fault. When you are talking about millions of dollars in losses from the drunk driver’s negligence, 10 percent can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars. By blocking this bill, insurance companies hope to reduce the amount they have to pay out to cover these losses.
And, that would mean that this pedestrian, who was just out for a walk, who had a family at home and perhaps a job to go to the next day, suffers financial hardship through truly no fault of his or her own. SB 465 is truly a win for bike riders and pedestrians who do not stand a chance when a two-ton vehicle is coming at them, driven by a drunk driver at high speeds. Insurance companies want to minimize their costs, but the result of doing so is making individuals like this the victims.
It’s true – insurance companies never have the victim’s best interests at heart. We do. For your free consultation to discuss your accident, before you settle with any insurance company, call DuBoff & Associates, Chtd. We’re here to go to work for you and to ensure you get fair compensation for your losses. Call 301-495-3131or use our contact form.Filed Under: