WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT MARYLAND CYCLISTS
HAD A BICYCLE CRASH IN MARYLAND?
Contact Ben Dodge to see if the bicycle crash lawyers at Bike Accident Attorneys (BAA) can help. Unlike other lawyers who attempt to represent cyclists, our BAA lawyers actually ride and race their bicycles as well as appear and win in court. Most attorneys are just pencil pushers. We are court room litigators who are passionate about riding our bikes and we have associated local counsel in other states to allow us to help you in your state. Based on our expertise and experience we have also been admitted in other states to appear in court for our bicycle crash clients on a case by case basis. We can help you directly or ensure that you get the quality help you need in your state. Contact Ben Dodge now to see how we can protect your rights.
3 Tips on Choosing the Best Bicycle Crash Lawyer and Avoid Being Scammed
So how do you know if you have the best lawyer? There are 3 things to investigate when hiring a bicycle lawyer that can help you avoid a scammer. Some of that depends on what you think the “best” really means. To me, it is simple. The “best” lawyer will get you to the most advantageous position possible with as little cost as possible. That’s it. Nothing else to it. I have seen too many lawyers give up or miss out on incredible opportunities for their clients because of their own egos arguing the irrelevant issues or pushing too hard in a direction that only generates their own fees as opposed to the results the client would rather have.
The most advantageous position is sometimes not even what the client comes in asking for. I can’t tell you how many times I probably talked myself out of a job in an initial consult because what the client wanted actually puts them in a worse position and I wasn’t afraid to tell them so. It would have been so much easier to just tell them what they desperately wanted to hear, help them feel heard and let them vent a little. All just tell them we better hurry up and rush to court so they can be vindicated. When in reality, that won’t help them at all. So that is what many lawyers do- they try to figure out what the client wants emotionally and then sell them a legal service that matches that emotional need and of course charge them for it based on whatever they think the client is able to pay.
Obviously not all attorneys are this cold-hearted. Many of us actually care. Many of us strive to do right by the client as opposed to just trying to do right by the pocket book.
Here are some general things to watch out for when looking for an attorney, especially a bicycle accident lawyer (I don’t like the word accident, I prefer “crash” – but most of the world uses the term accident and I understand why, so I sue it too). Here are the issues to watch out for:
1) Specific Knowledge
Do they have the specific knowledge required to handle your case? Just because they graduated from law school doesn’t mean they know anything about cycling! In fact, in my opinion, most of the country doesn’t know anything about cycling. It is crazy that all sorts of professionals from police offices charged with enforcing cycling safety to insurance adjusters responsible for finding fault don’t know anything about cycling laws. This is especially true with local rules, ordinances, and even more so with knowledge of local customs and implied expectations of cycling culture and more. Now fast forward to the moment when you are looking for an attorney to help you with your crash (your bicycle accident case) and you see a billboard on the side of the freeway, or a TV commercial, or even a Google search where the words cycling lawyer were used… How much specific knowledge of bicycle cases do you think they really have? Ask them how often they ride? Ask them what their favorite route is? Ask them if they could buy any bike on the planet what would it be and why? These questions will help you quickly identify if they are even remotely plugged into the cycling community and whether or not they have specific knowledge relating to cycling. Why is this important? SIMPLE- as a cyclist you already know that most people (drivers) hate that we are out on the roads. You already have an uphill court battle of public opinion. Being right on some traffic issue isn’t enough for us. Your lawyer must know this intimately in order to successfully navigate the complex negotiations of your case with the insurance company and opposing attorneys and then ultimately in a court room where you can bet no one on the jury will be a cyclist.
Also on the topic of specific knowledge. How many cases like this issue have they handled? What were the outcomes? How confident do you feel with their answers to these questions? Specific case knowledge is helpful. Do they have experience with the opposing insurance company? With that specific police department? With your judge? And on and on.
Specific knowledge is very helpful and you can’t buy it with expensive marketing on billboards, commercials, etc. It is earned with blood, sweat, and sometimes tears through years of experience.
2) Desk or Courtroom
The next thing to investigate is whether or not the attorney you’re thinking about hiring is a desk lawyer (I fondly refer to these lawyers as pencil pushers) or a courtroom lawyer. There is a need for all sorts of lawyers. But unless you are planning on having your bicycle accident attorney draft a will or some contract for you, then you want a courtroom lawyer not a pencil pusher.
I know this is a guess, but in my experience it seems like 95% of lawyers, especially the ones who end up on billboards and commercials, are just pencil pushers. Once their cases get to tough they refer them out to a real lawyer to finish the courtroom stuff for them. Most attorneys talk a big talk in their consult with potential clients about how good they are, but when push comes to shove and they have to actually prove it to you in a courtroom with you watching, their peers (opposing lawyers on the other side of your case) and in front of a judge and jury- they simply freak out and completely drop the ball or settle for less than you should ever take just to avoid the scary courtroom.
Don’t mistakenly hire a pencil pusher. Hire a bicycle accident lawyer who thrives in the courtroom. One simple question to help catch them off guard is ask them when is the last time they were in court? What was it about? What kind of hearing was it? What was the argument they proposed and made to the judge? How did it turn out? These simple questions will help you find out if they are pencil pushers or not. Their hesitation or odd answers are a dead give away that they are likely misleading you on their courtroom abilities and experience.
We are courtroom lawyers, sometimes even going multiple times per week to court. We file lawsuits, we don’t just write a few meaningless settlement letters and sell our clients on how good the settlement is- we prove it to our clients.
3) Do You Recognize Them from a Billboard or Commercial?
Yes I said that right, do you actually recognize them from a billboard or a TV commercial? Why is this even a thing? Well, it sounds harsh but those lawyers out there spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year (for some they spend that per month) just to recruit new clients may be struggling to get their current and past clients to even refer to them… Yep, what if your lawyer was so good and you were so impressed that you happily sent business to him/or her? See how powerful that is? I’m not saying that everyone who advertises in our line of work is a horrible lawyer. What I am saying is that it is a bit suspect since advertising is NOT cheap and it begs the question as to why they have to advertise in the first place? Is their reputation with their own clients so bad that they have to find an alternative source to finding clients? Possibly. I’m one of those guys who avoids, in fact runs away from any professional I see on a billboard. I’d much rather consult a trusted friend and get their opinion as to whom I should see or NOT see based on their experience.
Not all lawyers who advertise are bad. But like I said, I personally run away from any professional on a billboard or TV commercial. A good old fashioned referral has always proved to be much better much more often. Just sayin’.
These are just 3 of the many things to look out for when you hire a bicycle accident lawyer. Call my office up and we can chat over the phone sometime about all the other million things to look out for like attorney billable hour quotas, bonus structures, professional reputation among peers, and so much more!
We are here for you. We got your back. We protect our own like you’re a member of our tribe. Good luck. Be safe out there and keep the rubber side down.
Contact Ben Dodge and let the lawyers in the Bike Accident Attorneys National Network help you. We will assist you in your case and/or find someone for you in your state that we can trust and recommend. We have your back. We are here for you.
(Maryland State Flag)
MARYLAND BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
MARYLAND BICYCLE STATUTES
By Maryland law, bicycles are vehicles. Bicyclists are authorized users of the roadway, and bicyclists have rights-of-way and the same duty to obey all traffic signals as motorists. But bicycles are less visible, quieter, and don’t have a protective barrier around them. Motorists should drive carefully near bicyclists; even a slight mistake can result in serious injury or even death.
Traffic Laws for Motorists
• The driver of a vehicle passing another vehicle, including a bicycle, must pass at a safe distance and leave plenty of space. The driver should be able to see the past vehicle in the rear-view mirror before returning to the original lane. After passing a driver must make sure they are clear of the bicyclist before making any turns.
• Drivers shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicycle, Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device (EPAMD), or motor scooter being ridden by a person.
• The driver of a vehicle must not pass any closer than three (3) feet to a bicycle or motor scooter if the bicycle is operated in a lawful manner. It is not lawful to ride against traffic.
• The bicycle has the right-of-way when the motor vehicle is making a turn, and motorists must yield to bicyclists.
• Motorists must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists riding in bike lanes and shoulders when these vehicle operators are entering or crossing occupied bike lanes and shoulders.
• When riding on a sidewalk—where such riding is permitted—or a bike path, a bicyclist may ride in a crosswalk to continue their route. Motorists are required to yield right-of-way to a bicyclist operating lawfully in a crosswalk. Drivers must look for bicycles coming from both directions. (TR §21-101, §21-202, & §21-1103)
• A person may not throw any object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter.
• A person may not open the door of any motor vehicle with intent to strike, injure, or interfere with any person riding a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter.
• Failing to yield right-of-way to a bicyclist, resulting in a crash in which the bicyclist is seriously injured, can result in a $1,000 fine and three points on a driving record.
Traffic Laws for Bicyclists
• Maryland’s traffic laws apply to bicycles and motor scooters. (TR§21-1202)•A bicycle may not carry a passenger unless it is specifically designed for and equipped with a seat for each passenger. (TR§21-1203)•Bicycles, motor scooters, and EPAMDs are not permitted on any roads where the speed limit is more than 50 miles per hour (MPH) or higher. (TR§21-1205.1)
• A person riding a bicycle shall ride as close to the right side of the road as practicable and safe, except when:
- Making or attempting to make a left turn;
- Operating on a one-way street;
- Passing a stopped or slower moving vehicle;
- Avoiding pedestrians or road hazards;
- The right lane is a right turn only lane; or
- Operating in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane (TR§21-1205).
• Where there is a bike lane, a person must use those and not ride a bicycle or motor scooter in the roadway except: (TR§21-1205.1)
- If passing safely cannot be done within the bike lane or shoulder;
- When preparing for a left turn;
- To avoid hazards; or
- When the bike lane is also a right-turn or merge lane.
• Persons riding a bicycle or motorscooter may not cling to a vehicle on the roadway. (TR§21-124)
• A motor scooter may not be operated at a speed in excess of 30 MPH. (TR§21-1205.1)
• An EPAMD may not be operated at a speed in excess of 15 MPH. (TR§21-1205.1)
• A person cannot carry anything that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars or that interferes with the view or balance of their bicycle, motor scooter, or EPAMD. (TR§21-1206)
• A bicycle, motor scooter, or EPAMD may not be secured to a fire hydrant; a pole, meter, or device in a bus or taxi-loading zone; a pole, meter, or device within 25 feet of an intersection; or where it would obstruct or impede traffic. (TR§21-1206)
• A person may not ride a bicycle, motor scooter, or EPAMD while wearing a headset or earplugs that cover both ears. (TR§21-12010)
• Helmets are required for everyone under the age of 16, including passengers, who ride their bicycles on the road, bicycle paths, or any public property. (TR§21-1207.1)
• Helmets are also required for everyone under the age of 16 who is riding on a scooter or on in-line skates. (TR§21-1207.2)
• The helmets must meet or exceed the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the SnellMemorial Foundation, or the American Society for Testing and Materials. (TR§21-1207.1)
• A lamp is required on the front of a bicycle or motor scooter if the bicycle or motor scooter is used on a highway when people and vehicles are not clearly visible at 1,000 feet. (TR§21-1207)
• A red reflector on the rear is required if the bicycle or motor scooter is used on a highway when people and vehicles are not clearly visible at 1,000 feet. (TR§21-1207)
• A bicycle or motor scooter may be equipped with a bell or other audible device, but not a siren or whistle. (TR§21-1207)
• A bicycle or motor scooter must be equipped with a brake. (TR§21-1207)
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