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!

We’d like to reach out to our Maryland clients and the greater community to provide some guidance on personal injury lawsuits and claims during the COVID-19 emergency. On March 25, Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera issued a new order extending the length of statewide restricted judiciary operations.

Due to the extended order, all Maryland courts and court offices have been restricted to emergency operations and are closed with limited exceptions from March 17, 2020 through April 3, 2020; in addition, the courts are closed to the public with limited exceptions through May 1, 2020. As with other court systems in states around the country, this decision was made to limit exposure to and spread of the COVID-19 virus among members of the public as well as court personnel and law enforcement.

So what does this mean for your Maryland personal injury claim, whether related to an auto accident, a work accident or Worker’s Compensation claim, a slip and fall accident, or some other cause of injury?

Heads-up Maryland foot travelers: Fatal pedestrian accidents are the highest they’ve been in years, giving traffic and public safety advocates cause for concern. You should be too.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projected that in 2018, pedestrian traffic accident deaths would hit levels not seen since 1990, with 6,227 deaths reported nationwide. This figure is 4 percent higher than in 2017. Maryland’s pedestrian accident deaths increased by 25 percent from January – June 2017 (48 deaths) compared to preliminary-adjusted numbers for January – June 2018 (60 deaths).

But are dangerous pedestrian behaviors, such as walking and texting, to blame? The findings are complicated, as smartphone use is only one possible factor.

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Maryland has some of the most restrictive distracted-driving laws on the books. The state banned the use of handheld devices while driving in 2013, making texting and talking on hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel illegal. However, one Montgomery County councilman feels the fines attached to those violations ($75 for the first offense, $125 for the second, and $175 for subsequent offenses) are not enough of a deterrent.

Earlier this month, Montgomery County council member Tom Hucker proposed a program to install distracted driving cameras on Maryland highways. Citing the 38,000 Maryland motor vehicle accidents a year resulting in serious injuries and death, Hucker says it is time to take more strident measures to curb bad distracted-driving habits. His proposal for cameras that could catch distracted drivers in the act would be the first-of-its-kind surveillance program in the country.

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Maryland road warriors… If you’re heading out of town or state for Thanksgiving, expect plenty of company. AAA reports that nationally, motor vehicle travel for Thanksgiving week 2019 is expected to increase by 3 percent compared to last year – with some 49.3 million cars hitting the road in the U.S.

Sounds inviting? AAA Mid-Atlantic reports that the majority of Marylanders traveling for Thanksgiving will be hitting the road – with 1,042,500 residents (91 percent of state travelers) getting to their destination by auto. To avoid a motor vehicle accident or other problems on the road this Thanksgiving, AAA and the Travel Channel offer some good-sense travel advice…

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Halloween is such a fun and joyful time for children and parents alike. But as you’re dressing up those little princesses and superheroes for trick-or-treating this year, take steps to prevent motor vehicle accidents with pedestrians.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the risk for children being killed in a pedestrian traffic accident doubles on Halloween. The combination of trick-or-treaters darting in and out of the roadways at night, along with unsuspecting or inattentive drivers, can be deadly. The NSC reports that in 2017, October was the second-deadliest month of the year for motor vehicle deaths with 3,700 fatalities, topped only by July at 3,830 deaths.

The NSC and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer several suggestions for preventing the tragedy of pedestrian – motor vehicle crashes at Halloween:

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Over the years, we’ve devoted several blog articles to the many causes of distracted driving. The main related offenses that can lead to serious and even fatal Maryland distracted driving accidents include talking on cell phones and texting, eating, applying makeup, adjusting the GPS, conversing with passengers (especially for teenagers), and handling children and pets. Yes, pets. It’s this last category we’ll take a look at today.

It’s hard not to smile at the sight of a dog hanging its head out the car window, tongue and ears flapping in the breeze, enjoying the ride with his or her humans. But as much as we Marylanders love to take our canine friends with us on a road trip, the presence of animals in the car actually poses a distracted driving risk. This can put the driver, passengers, and yes, our beloved dogs themselves, at risk of injury or worse.

In 2011, a AAA survey of people and their pet passengers revealed some results that should make all dog-loving drivers sit up and take notice. Continue Reading

If you’ve heard about the Real ID but aren’t sure what it is and whether you have one, you’re not alone. However, this directly affects your Maryland Driver’s License, and if you haven’t filed the required documentation, you may be at risk for having your license recalled. Here’s some information about what the Real ID is and what you’ll need to do to be compliant.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress passed the Real ID Act establishing federal standards for drivers’ licenses and ID cards. Tragically, 18 of the terrorists responsible for this heinous act were able to board the airplanes they hijacked using state IDs obtained fraudulently. Now, everyone will need a Real ID license or ID card for certain federal activities, such as entering a federal building or boarding a domestic commercial flight.

According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) website, “Enforcement of the REAL ID Act at the card level begins on October 1, 2020. Maryland has been Real ID compliant since 2011.” However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified the MVA that nearly a million Maryland drivers have not filed the required documentation for their Real ID driver’s licenses to be compliant.

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With distracted driving becoming a life-threatening hazard on our roadways, it may come as no surprise that pedestrian accidents and fatalities are increasing as well. While vehicle safety enhancements have helped to protect drivers and passengers in the event of an auto accident, pedestrians are still just as much at risk of injury and death. Now, a national report shows that traffic-related pedestrian accident deaths are overall increasing—including in Maryland.

A Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report releasing preliminary data for the first half of 2018 showed Maryland pedestrian accident deaths rose by 25 percent between 2017 and 2018 — from 48 to 60 deaths. While some states have made strides to increase pedestrian safety and reduce fatalities, the GHSA projects an overall 4 percent increase in traffic-accident pedestrian fatalities for all of 2018. More than 6,200 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roadways last year—disturbing pedestrian fatality numbers that haven’t been seen since 1990.

The increase in traffic-related pedestrian fatalities has traffic safety and public health officials very concerned. The causes for the increase in pedestrian accidents and deaths vary, with dangerous driving and walking at nighttime topping the list. The GHSA attributes the national rise in pedestrian accident death to key factors, including…

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School’s out for summer! And that means more novice teenage drivers out on our Maryland back roads, city streets and highways. For parents and all Maryland motorists, this should be cause for concern.

The AAA reports that novice drivers are at greater risk for serious motor vehicle accidents, with an average of nearly 700 deaths in the U.S. each year from traffic crashes involving teen drivers. According to AAA, the school summer vacation period between Memorial Day and Labor Day represents the “100 deadliest days” on our roadways. In the last five years—during this deadly time frame—nearly 3,500 people have been killed on our nation’s roadways as a result of auto accidents involving teenage drivers.

AAA lists some of the risk factors that can lead to teenage drivers being involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents:

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded its investigation of potentially defective air bag systems to include 12 million vehicles going back a decade. The investigation began after air bags failed to deploy during two serious front-end crashes involving 2018 and 2019 Toyota Corollas. Now, the investigation has expanded to look into air bag control units in vehicles made by several manufacturers. NHTSA reports the units could fail during a motor vehicle accident, resulting in the air bags failing to deploy.

Maryland drivers may want to consider whether their vehicles are among those whose airbag control units are being investigated by NHTSA.

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