Maryland Bike Laws

Riding a Bike in Maryland: Laws and Liability

There are a lot of great reasons for riding a bike instead of driving. It’s good exercise, it’s cost efficient and it’s environmentally responsible. But bicycle accidents can and do happen – which is why both cyclists and drivers need to be careful about following the rules.

Laws for Maryland Bike Riders

Before you hop on your bike and hit the road, familiarize yourself with Maryland’s bike laws and make sure you’re protecting yourself against injury and liability. Here are some suggestions to consider:

Ride on the right. If there is a bike lane on the road, you’re required by law to use it. If there isn’t one, then you should ride on the right side of the road, close to the shoulder. Riding on the sidewalk is allowed, but you’ll have to yield to pedestrians. If you’re riding in a group, you’re not allowed to ride more than two people across.

Think like a car driver. In the state of Maryland, bikes are considered vehicles, so it’s important that you follow the same rules that are required of car drivers. For example, bicyclists need to come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs, and signal a turn well in advance of making it (100 feet, if possible).

Be safe. In some parts of Maryland, helmets are required for riders of all ages; in other parts, they are required only for those 16 (or 18) and younger. Nevertheless, you should always wear a helmet, regardless of your age; they reduce your risk of serious head injuries by 85%. Maryland law also prohibits cyclists from wearing ear buds or headphones in or on both ears while riding, and from riding on roads where the posted speed limit is more than 50 MPH.

Riding at night? Maryland law requires that your bike have a white front light and a red rear right (or reflector). Make sure your brakes are in good working order, too – it’s illegal to ride a bike without them. And don’t drink and ride – Maryland prohibits cycling under the influence.

Don’t assume anything. You may have a lot of the same rights as car drivers, but you have a lot less wiggle room when it comes to accidents. If it looks like a driver near you is doing something illegal or dangerous, yield or get yourself out of the way – even if you know you’re in the right. That driver might not realize they’re breaking the rules, or they might not care. It’s not worth taking a chance, regardless of who’s at fault.

What about drivers?

If you’re driving, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. You have a responsibility to share the road safely with bike riders in Maryland. Imagine if the cyclist you’re stuck behind was one of your loved ones; keeping them safe would be far more important than getting to your destination five minutes sooner, right? Don’t risk injury to cyclists (or yourself) by passing them too closely or swerving to get around them when cars are approaching in the opposite direction. You’re also required by Maryland law to yield right-of-way when a bike rider is making a turn. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident in Maryland, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we

Dog Laws in Maryland

Know the law when it comes to dogs in Maryland

A recent post to our neighborhood listserve got me thinking about dogs. The poster was jogging when he came up behind a man walking his dog. As he passed, the startled dog bit his ankle, breaking the skin.

According to the jogger, the bite wasn’t serious, but the dog owner expressed little concern. He mumbled something along the lines of, “He doesn’t usually do that” and went on his way. The jogger’s post contained a smartphone photo he took of the man and dog and asked if anyone could identify them so that he could pursue the issue. This of course ignited a long chain of posts by neighbors blaming the dog walker and those saying the jogger was at fault for spooking the dog by running too close to him. Like most list serve debates, there was a combination of level-headedness and antagonism, but there’s a lot to unpack here.

What are the dog laws in Maryland?

The state of Maryland regulates dog licensing and other pertinent regulations, but individual counties adopt and enforce these rules differently. Additionally, while no dog breed is illegal in Maryland, some counties place restrictions on certain breeds that are considered aggressive. In the past, state law placed different liability restrictions for aggressive breeds, but the same rule now applies to all types of dogs. The rules are the same whether you own a pit bull or a Pekingese, but they differ slightly by county, so it’s best to consult the guidelines for whichever county you call home.

What if I’m bitten by a dog in Maryland?

As the victim of a dog bite or attack, Maryland law entitles you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner for financial compensation. The owner can be found liable if he created a situation where an injury could have foreseeably occurred. This includes not keeping the dog in a fenced-in space, walking without a leash, or taking the dog out in public with prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressiveness.

Somewhere along the way, an urban myth started that Maryland is a “one bite” state. This means that a dog owner isn’t liable for a bite as long as the dog has never bitten anyone before. This is untrue: you can absolutely bring a claim against the owner of a dog with no previous history of biting.

What if my dog bites someone in Maryland?

A dog bite can be a huge hit to your finances, so know what to do to limit the damage. First, contain your dog and remove him or her from the immediate area around the victim to prevent further harm. Second, and this is where the dog owner from the listserve story made a big mistake, apologize and show genuine concern for the victim. Even if you think your dog was provoked, a little remorse can go a long way towards preventing the situation from escalating. Ask for their information and permission to contact them to follow up. Mumbling an excuse and continuing on your way won’t reflect well on you if things go to court. 

Do I need dog owner’s insurance?

Some homeowner’s insurance policies cover the damages and penalties if their dog bites someone. That’s some, not all, so first check to see if your dog is covered under your homeowner’s policy. If the dog is covered, find out the policy limits. Verdicts have also been known to reach seven figures, so make sure you know how much risk you’re assuming every time you take your dog for a walk.

If you’ve been involved in a dog bite incident in Maryland, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Maryland Pedestrian Safety Laws

Street Safety: Remembering the Rules of the Road

New Year’s Eve is here, and a lot of us celebrate the occasion by going out – which means there will be plenty of revelers on the street, both in cars and on foot. Don’t let the excitement of the festive season cloud your judgment when it comes to being safe, though. We’ve outlined some important things to keep in mind when you’re walking or driving at this (and any) time of year.

For Pedestrians

First, let’s cover some of the rules you should follow as a pedestrian (because let’s face it – walkers are more vulnerable than drivers, so it’s in your interest to be extra careful).

Make yourself visible. Wintertime is especially treacherous for pedestrians because it gets dark much earlier, making it harder for drivers to see people on the road. If you’re walking after sunset, wear bright colors or reflective clothing if at all possible; you can also use the flashlight on your phone if you need to.

Don’t take short cuts. Stick to sidewalks and marked crossings at all times, even if it takes you longer to get where you’re going. It’s not worth risking your life to save a few minutes here or there. If there isn’t a sidewalk or a crosswalk where you’re walking, keep to the edge of the road and face traffic.

Turn down (or off) the sound. Listening to your favorite music or podcast while you’re out on a stroll is an enjoyable pastime, but it’s not a wise decision if you’re on a busy road with a lot of cars. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you and be alert to potential threats from cars in any direction.

Look left and right (and left again). Just because you’re at a crosswalk doesn’t mean a driver is going to stop for you. Look left, right and left again before entering a crosswalk; if there are oncoming cars in either direction, wait until they’ve come to a full stop before you take a step. Making eye contact with the driver is another good idea – that way you know they’ve seen you.

For Drivers

Drivers have a big part to play in making sure the roads are safe. Here are some important rules for motorists:

Come to a full stop at every red light. We’ve all been guilty at one point or another of turning right on a red light without fully stopping beforehand. But Maryland law requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk on red lights (as well as on green lights, of course). If you’re too busy paying attention to oncoming traffic from your left, you might miss the fact that people are crossing the street on your right.

Be patient. Even if you think you’re close enough to “sneak through” a pedestrian crossing before people approach it, stop and wait for them. You never know if those pedestrians might try to pick up the pace themselves and jog across, figuring that you will brake for them.

Expect the unexpected. Pedestrians are supposed to stick to crosswalks and sidewalks, but they don’t always follow the rules – especially if they have been drinking. They may try to cross the street diagonally or run across a part of the road that isn’t specifically marked for crossing. Keep an eye out and don’t assume anything.

Stay alert. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but driving tired (or distracted) can be just as dangerous. If you find yourself unable to stay awake, pull over in a safe place and call a friend (or an Uber or Lyft) to take you where you need to go. And avoid texting or talking on the phone while you’re driving.

If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Choose an attorney with experience in these types of cases, who will work to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Need legal help? Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.