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!

The Maryland Department of Transportation reports the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities on our state’s highways and roadways continues to grow. According to Zero Deaths Maryland, a public safety program of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), car crash deaths are expected to surpass 600 fatalities for 2023 — the highest number of roadway fatalities in decades.

Zero Deaths Maryland reports that most Maryland car crash deaths are caused by the following driving behaviors:
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Pedestrians are at a serious disadvantage when they are involved in motor vehicle accidents. Even when a pedestrian is struck by a slow-moving vehicle, serious injuries and fatalities can occur. This includes people who are hit while walking, running, standing or simply getting out of their vehicle. The risk of serious pedestrian injury and fatality increases the faster the vehicle involved is going.

In Maryland, roughly 3,000 traffic accidents a year involve pedestrians. Over the last five years, on average, 125 people die annually in Maryland pedestrian accidents involving at least one motor vehicle.

Zero Deaths Maryland — a public safety initiative of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Motor Vehicle Administration — compiles data related to all traffic crashes in the state. The top causes and contributing factors in Maryland fatal pedestrian accidents are as follows:

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The allure of motorcycling is unmistakable. Motorcycle enthusiasts describe a feeling of freedom, being close to the environment, and enjoying the open road. It’s all about the ride. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates the number of registered motorcycles in the U.S. doubled from 4.3 million in 2002 to 8.6 million in 2021.

Unfortunately, what makes motorcycling so appealing also creates serious risks for motorcyclists and their passengers when they’re involved in traffic accidents. Unlike motorists in passenger vehicles, who are surrounded by reinforced steel, motorcycle riders are exposed and vulnerable when involved in a crash with a car, truck or SUV. This means motorcyclists are at higher risk for injury or death when involved in traffic accidents.

As Maryland motorcycle accident attorneys, we know too well what can happen when a motorcycle and an automobile collide on the road, or when a motorcycle goes off the road and crashes. Zero Deaths Maryland reports that in 2020, nearly 1,300 motorcycle-involved crashes occurred statewide, with more than 75 percent resulting in injury or death. Between 2016 and 2020, motorcycle-related crashes accounted for about 14 percent of Maryland’s traffic crash-related deaths. Read on for more Maryland motorcycle accident statistics and characteristics.
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Maryland and many other parts of the country are sweating under oppressive heat this summer, with Baltimore temperatures bumping up against 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the area heat index (a combination of heat and humidity) expected to reach as high as 110.

Extreme heat makes construction, landscaping, agriculture, and other outdoor work even more dangerous, as heat-related illness — which can lead to death — can overtake the body quickly. Maryland recently reported its first heat-related death of 2023; in last year’s extreme heat, our state saw five heat-related deaths.

As Maryland Workers’ Compensation lawyers, we’re concerned about the safety and well-being of all our state’s workers. Let’s take a look at what the Maryland Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) want employers and workers to know about avoiding heat illness this summer.

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that nationally, a total of 4,714 people died in traffic accidents involving large trucks in 2021 — a 17-percent increase over 2020.

Passenger vehicle occupants are more likely to die in crashes with large commercial trucks. The main reason seems obvious: Automobiles are significantly outsized by large commercial tractor-trailer trucks, with the risk of cars going underneath trucks (underriding) in highway accidents. Many factors contribute to large commercial truck accidents, including the following:
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Anyone who has purchased a new motor vehicle in the last 10 years knows these sure aren’t your grandparents’ trusty old sedans. Today’s driver assistance technologies are designed to make driving easier and safer, with the potential to save thousands of lives.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2020, sadly, 38,824 people died in motor vehicle crashes — many of which were tied to human error.

Today’s car tech includes warning systems that alert drivers to potential accidents before they happen, as well as collision intervention systems that can react and brake faster than a driver. We even have driving control assistance technologies designed to keep our cars a safe distance from others and make sure we’re staying in our lanes.

How are these new automotive technologies impacting driving safety? Continue Reading

According to Zero Deaths Maryland, 134 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2022. This is up from 125 pedestrian – traffic crash deaths in Maryland in 2019. The increase in pedestrian accident fatalities in our state is in keeping with an alarming national trend.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report in 2020 ranked Maryland 15th highest in the nation for pedestrian accident deaths, with a Pedestrian Fatality Rate of 2.15 per 100,000 population. Worst in the U.S. was New Mexico, followed by South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. Maine had the lowest rates for fatal pedestrian-involved motor vehicle accidents, followed by Massachusetts and Idaho.

So why have Maryland pedestrian fatalities risen in recent years?

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Last year, our Maryland personal injury law practice saw an increase in motor vehicle accident cases. This is in spite of people still working from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we’d expect fewer motorists crowding highways commuting to and from their workplaces.

Zero Deaths Maryland reported 544 motor vehicle crash fatalities for 2022, including 339 drivers, 64 passengers, 128 pedestrians, 11 bike or pedacyclists, and 2 unknown. This figure is down from 563 traffic accident deaths in Maryland in 2021. However, in 2020, more people died in automobile crashes here (573 deaths) than in previous years, resulting in an overall 7.1-percent increase in traffic accident fatalities for Maryland.

Nationally, motor vehicle accident fatalities since the start of the pandemic have increased to levels not seen in many years, reversing a positive trend toward fewer deaths on our roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021 — a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020 and the highest number of U.S. motor vehicle accident deaths since 2005.

So what is going on here? Traffic safety experts aren’t entirely sure.

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fatal occupational injuries rose to 5,190 in 2021 — an 8.9-percent increase from 4,764 in 2020 and the highest national increase since 2016. The 2021 rate of 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers is up from 3.4 in 2020 and 3.5 in 2019 (pre-pandemic).

As Maryland Workers Compensation attorneys, we’re well aware of the dangers inherent to certain job fields, including construction and transportation. The BLS breaks down its most recent report into some interesting statistics related to the rise in fatal work injuries in 2021….

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Graphic: Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland State Police

Beginning October 1, 2022, the Maryland Move Over Law expanded to include all vehicles pulled over on the side of the road with hazards on and/or road flares displayed. In doing so, Maryland becomes the eighth state in the nation to expands its move over traffic law to cover all types of vehicles — not only emergency responders, law enforcement and tow trucks.

The original Maryland Move Over Law went into effect in 2010 as a way to protect police officers on the roadside from deadly traffic accidents. The original law established a buffer between moving traffic and those broken down or pulled over on the roadside by requiring oncoming vehicles to slow down and move over from the right lane into middle or left lanes, if safe to do so. In the following years, the law expanded to include other types of vehicles….

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