Maryland Injury Attorney Blog

546518_baltimore_city_3Greetings from Maryland, and welcome to our Maryland Injury Attorney Blog! My name is Jeff Butschky, and I will be your host and (hopefully) your source of practical help and information from within the Maryland Legal Community.

Perhaps nothing affects an individual or family more than a sudden accident or injury — whether due to a motor vehicle accident, a work-related accident, or some other unforeseen incident. When we are hurt, we understand that there will be hospitals and doctors, pain, stress and inconvenience. What isn’t often appreciated is the fact that the injured person must also now deal with (gulp) lawyers and (even worse) the insurance industry. Like visiting the dentist, filing taxes or other mild forms of torture, no one wants to do this, and I don’t blame you.

This blog will untangle and demystify the frustrating and complicated world of injury claims. As a practicing attorney in Baltimore County, Maryland, for more than 20 years, I’m going to do my best to make this as easy as I can. So let’s get started!

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Thanks to the lowest gas prices since 2008, an estimated one million Maryland motorists are expected to hit the roadways this Thanksgiving, AAA Mid-Atlantic reports. AAA forecasts some 46.9 million U.S. motorists are expected to journey by car more than 50 miles for the holidays — an increase of .06 percent over last year’s numbers.

For Maryland drivers, this translates to plenty of company — and potential headaches — on our Baltimore County highways and beyond this Thanksgiving season. AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Regina Cooper Averella stated in a press release,

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The Associated Press reports that data gathered by the National Safety Council (NSC) shows traffic accident fatalities up for the first half of 2015 — reversing what had been a trend toward fewer car crash deaths. For the last several years, traffic accident fatalities had been steadily declining on a national level, due in part to public safety campaigns, tougher state traffic laws, high gas prices keeping cars in park, and enhanced vehicle safety features.

According to the NSC, traffic fatalities in the U.S. increased by 14 percent and injuries rose by one-third between January and June 2015. Traffic safety experts theorize that an improving economy, cheaper gas prices enticing more motorists to hit the road, and an increase in distracted driving are among the chief causes. The numbers are cause for concern….
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Exploding airbags. Ignition switches turning off without warning. Accelerator pedals sticking. Tires blowing out. The list of automotive safety recalls in recent years seems to go on and on. The problem with Takata airbag inflators, which has impacted millions of cars and 11 automakers, including Honda, BMW and Toyota, is just one in a series of safety recalls in the news this summer.

The Takata airbag recall has been linked to 8 deaths. However, for some, that news is falling on deaf ears. Lawmakers and auto safety advocates are concerned that some consumers are getting sick of hearing about safety recalls—tuning them out and failing to get their vehicles repaired. This poses a danger for everyone on the road, here in Maryland and elsewhere.

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With its barbecues, beach trips and fireworks, everyone welcomes July 4 as the official start of summer. If you plan to hit the road in Maryland this holiday weekend — you’re not alone. AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts some 870,000 Maryland drivers will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the Independence Day weekend — a 2.3 percent increase over 2014. About one million of our neighbors in the Washington, DC area are also expected to take to the highways.

Good weather, lower gas prices, a rebounding economy and the fact that July 4 falls on a Saturday this year means Maryland will see a record number of holiday travelers on its roadways. But there’s a dark side to the July 4 holiday…
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The Takata air bag recall we’ve been hearing about in the news is the most massive automotive safety recall in U.S. history, affecting an estimated 34 million vehicles and some two dozen brands. That means thousands of drivers in Maryland will need to get their vehicle’s air bags replaced. Some vehicles only need one air bag replaced, while others will require more.

Automotive news reports state that a problem with the propellant and air bag inflators could cause metal shards to exploded outwards from the air bag during deployment in a crash, potentially causing serious injury or death to driver or passengers. A number of deaths and serious injuries have been linked to these malfunctioning air bags. That’s a very unsettling thought, given airbags are considered a lifesaving feature now standard in motor vehicles. What can consumers in Maryland do?
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Last month, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation enabling the state to raise the speed limit on specified highways from 65 to 70 miles per hour. That comes as good news to those eager to put the pedal to the metal … and not so good news to safety advocates concerned about speed-related motor vehicle crashes in Maryland.

According to a spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration, the speed limit increase would not be mandatory and would be determined on a case-by-case basis. Roadways located in more rural areas that already have a 60- to 65-mph speed limit would be more likely to see their speed limit raised to 70 mph.

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We drive by them all the time as we travel Maryland’s highways: road workers filling in potholes, repaving roads, or making improvements to our transportation infrastructure. Maryland’s highway construction workers put themselves in harm’s way every day — often with little more than a row of orange cones or barrels between themselves and speeding traffic. Same goes for utility workers, traffic police, flaggers and others who work in road construction zones.

However highway workers aren’t the only ones at risk when drivers speed through work zones. Drivers who approach work zones too quickly can fail to safely navigate detours, lane shifts, barriers, construction equipment and other obstacles that come up fast. According to the Maryland SafeZones project, four out of five crash-related injuries in work zones are suffered by motorists themselves. Continue Reading

Maryland parents need to set a good example behind the wheel for their teenage sons and daughters. A new report by the AAA Foundation finds that distracted driving contributes to more serious car crashes involving teens than previously thought. Not surprisingly, cell phone use behind the wheel is among the primary causes.

CBS News reported on the AAA Foundation study, which analyzed teen car accidents caught on in-car videotape. According to the news report, the study found that distracted driving was a factor in 58 percent of moderate to severe motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers. That 58 percent is much higher than the previous government estimate of 14 percent. The video evidence is chilling. Continue Reading

The Baltimore Sun reports three workplace fatalities in Harford County, Md., last month. Two of the fatal work accidents were in the construction industries, while the third involved a paramedic fatally struck in a motor vehicle accident. As experienced Maryland workplace injury attorneys, we are all too aware of the high risks involved in both the construction trades and in the life-saving work performed by our emergency responders, often under hazardous conditions.

The Sun reports the following fatal workplace accidents in Harford County, Maryland, in January….

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Until recently, conventional wisdom suggested that as drivers age, their driving skills decline. Research has supported that notion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has described car accident statistics like a letter “U,” with teenage drivers causing the most accidents at one end of the age scale and senior drivers over age 70 at the other.

However, as overall U.S. car accident injury and fatality rates have declined since 2008 (thanks to public safety campaigns, vehicle safety enhancements, improved traffic engineering and stricter law enforcement) — so have some accident injury and fatality statistics for older drivers. The AAA Foundation for Safety found the following motor vehicle accident trends for drivers of all ages between 1995 and 2010:

“While drivers of all ages experienced decreases in rates of crashes, injuries, and deaths over the study period, decreases in population-based and driver-based rates were largest for teenage drivers; decreases in mileage-based rates of crash involvement, injury, and death were largest for drivers aged 75-84.”

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