Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of New Mexico issued a written opinion holding that the statute of limitations in a product liability case filed against a car manufacturer may be tolled if there is a showing that the manufacturer fraudulently concealed information that could give rise to the claim. In the case, Estate of Brice v. Toyota Motor Company, the court reversed a trial court’s ruling that the plaintiff’s case was filed beyond the applicable statute of limitations and allowed the case to proceed toward trial.

The Facts of the CaseGas Pedal

Back in 2006, a Toyota Corolla driven by Alice Brice inexplicably accelerated into an intersection, where it was struck by a semi-truck. The vehicle caught fire, and Brice ultimately died as a result of the injuries she sustained. Approximately three years and 11 months later, her estate filed a product liability lawsuit against Toyota, the manufacturer of her vehicle.

In a summary judgment motion, Toyota asked the court to dismiss the case against it, arguing that it was filed too late. Under New Mexico law, wrongful death actions of this sort must be filed within three years from the date of the death. The plaintiff responded that Toyota had known about the sudden-acceleration problem but had acted to conceal the safety issue, preventing the plaintiff from realizing that there was a potential claim. The plaintiff also explained that as soon as the information became available, the lawsuit was filed without delay.

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Earlier this month, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion affirming a lower court’s award of $1,200,000 to the family of a woman who was killed in a truck accident. In the case, Quilez-Velar v. Ox Bodies, Inc., the plaintiffs were the surviving family members of a woman who was killed when the vehicle she was driving struck a semi-truck from the rear and “underrode” the truck.

Tanker TruckWhat Is an Under-Ride Accident?

Whenever a car crashes into the rear of a semi-truck or other large vehicle, there is a chance that the car will squeeze underneath the bottom of the truck. This is especially dangerous to motorists, since in doing so the car’s cabin is crushed, almost always resulting in serious injury or death. To help prevent under-ride accidents, federal law requires that truck companies install under-ride guards on their vehicles.

The Facts of the Case

Back in 2010, the deceased was driving her Jeep Liberty on the highway when she collided with a slowing semi-truck from behind. As the two vehicles collided, the Jeep went under the body of the truck, and the rear of the truck ended up entering the cabin of the Jeep. As a result of the accident, the driver of the Jeep was killed.

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Truck drivers have an enormous responsibility. With loaded rigs weighing up to 40 tons, the trucks these drivers operate are massive, difficult to steer, and prone to causing mayhem if not properly controlled. For these reasons, federal and state laws act to regulate the trucking industry, requiring drivers to obtain special licenses, register their cargo and route, and constantly ensure that their rig is in safe working condition. In addition, truck drivers must also follow the rules of the road that apply to all motorists, such as refraining from drunk or distracted driving.

PotatoesWhen there is a lapse in judgment, or an oversight on the part of a truck driver, the driver may be held liable in a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits, brought under the theory of negligence, require an accident victim to show that there was some negligent act or omission that caused the accident that resulted in the victim’s injuries. If this is successfully proven, an accident victim may receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident.

Truck Accident Caused by Sleeping Driver

Earlier this month in North Carolina, 50,000 pounds of potatoes spilled onto the road after a semi-truck driver crashed into a barrier and rolled the truck onto its side. According to one local news source covering the accident, the truck driver was traveling on Interstate 77 at around 2 a.m. when the accident occurred.

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On April 22nd of last year, a fatal truck accident claimed the lives of five young nursing students from Georgia Southern University. Earlier this month, a settlement agreement was reached with four of the five families of the deceased students. According to one local news source, the exact terms of each of the settlements is not yet known, but one family will be receiving $14 million for the loss of their daughter.

road-train-1185254_960_720The Accident

At around six in the morning on the day of the accident, seven nursing students were carpooling to a Savannah hospital for training. The students were split up in two cars and were driving on Interstate 16, when an unrelated collision up ahead of the students slowed traffic down to stop-and-go speeds. As the students’ vehicles were stopped, a truck driver came at full speed from behind and crashed into the vehicles.

The truck first made contact with a Toyota Corolla carrying three of the students. After the initial collision, the truck rolled over the Corolla, killing all three inside. Then, the truck slammed into a Ford Escape carrying four other students. The Escape was thrown into the air as a result of the collision and then rolled multiple times. Two of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The driver of the Escape was trapped behind the car’s steering wheel, and she needed to be extricated by emergency responders. She was taken to the hospital but was unable to recover from her injuries. She passed away a few hours later.

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One of the reasons that tractor-trailers and other large trucks are prone to getting involved in serious accidents is the fact that they require a longer distance to come to a complete stop. This is true even with an empty trailer, but when a truck is fully loaded, it can take up to three times the distance to come to a complete stop, compared to other, smaller vehicles.

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It is for this reason that in geographical areas where visibility may be limited for one reason or another, truck drivers need to take extra precautions. The limited visibility may be due to fog or other weather conditions present on the road, but it may also be a function of the road itself. For example, winding roads that travel through heavily forested areas, as well as roads through the hills with peaks and valleys, present difficulties for truck drivers.

Notwithstanding the difficulty of operating a truck in these conditions, it is the truck driver’s duty to ensure the safe operation of his vehicle at all times. This often means researching a route in advance, slowing down to below-posted speeds, or even calling ahead to make arrangements with local law enforcement for safe passage.

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Earlier this month, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a truck accident case, holding that evidence of a defendant’s lack of insurance is not relevant and should be excluded from the jury’s consideration. In the case, Perry v. Asphalt & Concrete Services, Inc., the appellate court reversed the nearly $530,000 jury verdict and ordered a new trial.

volvo-1201106_960_720The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was crossing the street in Frederick, Maryland, when he was struck by a dump truck that was working on a paving job at a nearby church. As a result of being struck by the dump truck, the plaintiff sustained head trauma and fractured several ribs. He then filed a lawsuit against the truck driver, the truck’s owner, and the defendant in this case, ACS, which was the company that hired the truck to complete the paving job.

The plaintiff’s theory against ACS was that the company negligently hired the truck driver. The plaintiff claimed that ACS was negligent because it failed to look into the truck driver’s licensing. In fact, the truck driver was not a licensed driver at the time of the accident. He also did not have liability insurance at the time of the accident.

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In most personal injury cases, the judge plays a fairly limited role, leaving the ultimate decision of whether the defendant was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries up to the jury. In the early stages of litigation, a judge also acts as a gatekeeper, ensuring that only meritorious cases reach the jury. If a party asks the judge to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence, and the judge agrees, a case may get dismissed before it is even put before a jury. That is exactly what happened in a recent wrongful death case involving an allegedly negligent truck driver.

car-438730_960_720Moreno v. TLSL:  The Facts

In the case of Moreno v. TLSL, the plaintiff brought a wrongful death case on behalf of a man who was killed when the pickup truck he was driving slammed into the back of a semi-truck. In pre-trial depositions, several parties provided the court with testimony. After that process was complete, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the case, based on there not being any evidence of his being negligent.

The parties presented wildly different versions of what had occurred. The semi-truck driver testified that he merged onto the highway when he saw the deceased’s headlights in his mirrors. He estimated that the vehicle was about three-quarters of a mile behind him at the time he entered the highway. However, the vehicle behind him quickly approached and eventually crashed into the back of his truck. The truck driver guessed he was going at about 35 miles per hour when the collision occurred.

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Commercial carriers, such as buses, trucks, trains, and taxi-cabs, all have a duty to their passengers to operate their vehicles in a safe manner and do everything reasonable to ensure a safe trip. This duty extends to others sharing the road with the common carrier as well. On occasion, however, a bus driver’s attention drifts away from the road, or a truck driver dozes off in the middle of a long journey, putting his passengers and others on the road at an increased risk. When this type of conduct results in an accident, that driver can be held legally responsible for his actions in violating the duty he owed to his passengers and others.

bus-923199_960_720This type of case, generally brought under the legal concept of negligence, relies on an accident victim showing that the common carrier was negligent in attending to the duty he owes his passengers or others on the road, and that the breach of that duty resulted in the passenger’s injuries and damages. If this can be established, the injured party may be entitled to receive monetary compensation for the injuries they sustained in the accident. Such compensation is not normally limited to out-of-pocket expenses and may include additional amounts for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Minibus Accident in France Claims 12 Lives

Earlier last month, a devastating accident in France involving a minibus and a truck resulted in 12 Portuguese tourists losing their lives. According to one local news source covering the tragic event, the accident occurred while the minibus was taking the passengers from Switzerland back to Portugal.

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Large trucks that carry products from one end of the country to the other are necessary to our society, but they come with a good amount of risk as well. Trucks are large, cumbersome, difficult to control, and require a specialized knowledge to operate safely. In fact, in all fifty states, commercial truck drivers need a special license before they are permitted to drive a rig.

amish-444058_960_720While driving a truck is not an easy task, it is one that a truck driver voluntarily assumes. The same can be said about the heightened duty that truck drivers take on, as well. In fact, any time a truck driver is found to have negligently caused an accident, that driver may be held liable to anyone injured as a result. In cases where a truck accident results in a fatality, then that accident victim’s family may pursue a wrongful death case against that driver.

A wrongful death case is a special kind of lawsuit brought by the surviving family members of a deceased accident victim. Once a person is deemed an appropriate plaintiff by establishing their relationship to the deceased, a wrongful death case operates much like a traditional negligence case, requiring the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions resulted in the death of their loved one.

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Unlike most other vehicles, most busses do not have safety belts. In addition, they are large, slow to come to a stop, and can be very difficult to control. It is for these reasons that bus drivers are required to obtain special licenses that permit them to operate these potentially dangerous vehicles, called commercial drivers licenses. In addition to extra licensure requirements, bus drivers are held to a high standard of care when operating their vehicles. This stands true for other commercial vehicle operators as well, such as taxis and large trucks.

streets-690616_960_720Bus drivers have a duty to each of their passengers to take reasonable precautions to ensure a safe trip. Of course, this includes remaining free from the intoxicating effects of alcohol or drugs, even prescription medications. Additionally, in Maryland and Washington D.C., there is a hand-held device ban in place, prohibiting all drivers from using cellphones for texting or talking while behind the wheel. Bus drivers should constantly keep their full attention on the road, and should refrain from talking to passengers, or talking to other drivers over the radio.

When a bus driver causes an accident that results in injury to his or her passengers, that driver may be held liable for any injuries caused through a Maryland or Washington D.C. negligence lawsuit. In addition, it is also possible that the driver’s employer may also be held liable, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the employer’s involvement, if any. Typically, employer liability may arise when a bus driver is negligent in carrying out his or her assigned duties.

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