Semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles and the employees operating them are required to abide by various safety regulations and guidelines that may not apply to normal drivers. Companies and drivers can be cited by state transportation authorities if an inspection or accident reveals violations of the driving or equipment regulations established by the authorities. Companies or drivers with repeated or excessive violations may face administrative consequences, especially in the event of an accident related to the violation.
The victims of a Maryland semi-truck accident may discover that the commercial vehicle or driver involved in their crash has been cited in the past for a safety violation that relates to the apparent cause of their own accident. As the plaintiff in a Maryland truck accident lawsuit, the accident victim may be able to introduce evidence of previous safety violations to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence in causing the accident. Evidence that a defendant has repeatedly violated safety regulations in the past should give the plaintiff an advantage in making the case for damages. However, this evidence will not necessarily be admitted without litigation over its admission.
Punitive Damages and a Pattern of Gross Negligence in Maryland and D.C.
In some jurisdictions, an accident victim may be entitled to additional damages above and beyond the economic and noneconomic damages relating to their injuries from the accident. In Maryland, punitive damages may only be awarded in a negligence lawsuit by showing actual malice, but in Washington, D.C., punitive damages can be awarded when a defendant has acted in willful disregard of the plaintiff’s rights and was reckless toward the plaintiff’s safety. In some cases, it could be argued that a pattern of gross negligence by a defendant who was guilty of repeated safety violations that resulted in an accident justifies an award of punitive damages to the plaintiff.