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!

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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It’s a common site on Maryland’s busy roadways: A police officer approaches a vehicle he or she has pulled over in the highway breakdown lane. Or a tow truck driver assists a motorist broken down on the side of the road. Or an ambulance responds to the scene of a traffic accident. These hard-working first responders take their lives in their hands every day while doing their jobs to assist the public and keep our Maryland roadways safe.

This is why Maryland passed a “Move Over Law” requiring motorists travelling in the same direction to change lanes to avoid emergency vehicles and personnel in the roadway. If changing lanes is not safe or possible, then motorists are required to slow down to a speed that is safe for weather, road, and traffic conditions — to make sure they can safely pass the first responders and avoid causing a tragic motor vehicle accident.

Now, Maryland has expanded its Move Over law to include other types of motor vehicles.

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Every day, Maryland’s hard-working first responders and law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public. Now, Maryland correctional officers now join our state’s police officers and firefighters in receiving better workplace injury compensation.

On May 15, 2018, Governor Larry Hogan signed Maryland House Bill 205 into law, providing for enhanced Maryland workers’ compensation benefits for state correctional officers who become injured or ill on the job. The bill, which was sponsored by Delegate Luke Clippinger from District 46, Baltimore City, adds correctional officers to the state definition of “public safety employees,” providing enhanced benefits for Maryland Workers’ Compensation claims submitted on or after October 1, 2018.

The Maryland General Assembly’s summary of Chapter 589 (House Bill 205) concerning Workers’ Compensation – Permanent Partial Disability – State Correctional Officers, reads as follows….

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Most Maryland motorists would most likely admit that reading over their auto insurance policy isn’t high on their to-do lists. However, as experienced Baltimore car accident attorneys, we know too well from our clients’ traffic mishaps that not knowing what your auto insurance covers can turn out to be very costly. Now, a new auto insurance offering for Maryland drivers may improve their chances of collecting more compensation in the event of a traffic accident with an at-fault motorist who is underinsured.

Last year, the General Assembly of Maryland passed a bill into law called the Private Passenger Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance – Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage (“EUIM”). The EUIM law went into effect on October 1, 2017 and applies to private passenger automobile policies purchased on or after July 1, 2018. Now, all property and casualty insurers and producers must offer EUIM coverage to private passenger motor vehicle liability policies.

So what does this mean for you as a motorist in Maryland?

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Did you know…? If you’re inclined to drive an ATV or snowmobile on authorized portions of a Maryland highway, you’ll need a driver’s license? Or that hanging fuzzy dice and other doodads from the vehicle’s rear-view mirror may now be cited as a secondary traffic offense? Those and several other new Maryland vehicle laws went into effect last year — but you might not be aware of them.

For our Maryland drivers who want to do their best to avoid motor vehicle accidents and abide by state transportation laws…here is a brief rundown of the new Maryland Vehicle Laws. As of October 1, 2017, The Maryland General Assembly, Department of Legislative Services, put the following vehicle laws into effect:

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