Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog

There are many populous cities in and around the Maryland region, and traffic can be brutal and congested. The busy metropolitan cities are home to many businesses that rely on transportation companies to deliver their goods. With the rise in online purchasing and same-day delivery, transportation companies are now beginning to face potential competition among them. This new competition-driven system has resulted in an influx of trucking accidents in the state.

Dark RoadThere are many reasons that trucking accidents occur in Maryland. Some of the top causes of trucking accidents and trucking-related fatalities are truck driver inexperience, trucking malfunction, jackknifing, and truck driver fatigue. Out of all of these common causes, truck driver drowsiness and fatigue is arguably the most dangerous. In fact, a recent study revealed that although medical professionals recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep for an adult, many truck drivers get less than five hours of sleep. This is clearly insufficient when they are in control of such large and dangerous vehicles.

As mentioned above, competition between trucking companies is so fierce that many times trucking companies demand their drivers to make delivery goals that are potentially unsafe. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has lenient standards that allow drivers to drive up to 11 hours in one day without stops. This number translates to almost 70 hours in just over a week’s time. In order to ensure job security, truck drivers may feel compelled to violate these requirements. In some cases, truck drivers may even take illicit substances to ensure that they are awake. However, many of these substances lead to drivers who are less alert and aware of their surroundings. The combination of strict delivery times and fatigued drivers can only lead to a deadly result.

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Truck accidents are dangerous for many reasons, not the least of which is the potential havoc that can be wreaked when a large truck crashes into smaller vehicles or pedestrians. In fact, most accidents involving large trucks are exactly this type of accident, in which a truck collides with a smaller vehicle or a pedestrian, many times after the driver fails to notice the other person. However, another type of truck accident can occur when a truck’s cargo spills onto the highway, causing a serious hazard for passing motorists.

Tanker Truck

By now, readers of this blog are aware that truck drivers all have a duty to those with whom they share the road to safely operate their vehicles. And, as discussed above, most victims of truck accidents are those with whom the truck physically collided. However, what readers may not know is that truck drivers and their employers can also be held liable for damage or injuries caused by the truck’s cargo being spilled onto the road.

Tanker Truck Crashes, Spilling Over 8,000 Gallons of Fuel

Earlier this month, a single-truck accident in Des Moines, Iowa left thousands of gallons of fuel spilled near the highway. According to one local news report covering the accident, the truck was heading westbound on a state highway when witnesses say the truck driver lost control of the rig. After losing control, the truck rolled several times, eventually coming to a complete stop in the median.

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Not all courts are the same. While judges are all supposed to follow the law as it is written, there are situations in which a case does not neatly fit into the laws as they currently stand. In such cases, judges may be required to interpret statutes or give meaning to previous judicial opinions and apply this analysis to the facts in the case before them. This can result in a situation in which the judge “creates” the law as it applies to the specific case.

Truck's GrillBecause of this, it can be very important which court hears a case. A recent case before the Texas Supreme Court highlights the lengths parties will go to in ensuring that the venue hearing the case is of their own choice.

In re J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.

In this case, J.B. Hunt was a trucking company that employed a truck driver who was involved in a fatal accident that claimed the life of another motorist. According to the court’s written opinion, an Isuzu Rodeo broke down on the highway and pulled off to the far-right lane. A truck owned by J.B. Hunt was driving in that same lane, and after a few moments, the truck slammed into the rear of the Isuzu, killing one of the occupants.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Delaware issued an opinion in favor of a young plaintiff who was injured when she was struck by a car as she was about to board a school bus. In the case, State Farm Mutual Insurance Company v. Buckley, the girl’s family sought recovery from the insurance company that insured the school bus. The court allowed the girl’s recovery because, although the physical collision did not involve the bus, the court determined the school bus was “involved” in the accident because the bus driver signaled for the student to board the bus.

School BusThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was waiting for the school bus to take her to school. When the bus showed up, the driver stopped the bus and signaled for the girl to board the bus. As she began to cross the street to board the bus, however, a car struck the girl. It was determined that the driver of the car was at least partially at fault for the accident.

The girl’s family sought financial recovery through the insurance company that had insured the school bus. The insurance company contested the claim because the school bus was not involved in the physical collision, and the girl was not aboard the bus when she was struck. The girl’s family claimed that the girl was relying solely on the bus driver’s cue to board the bus, which involved the bus in the accident.

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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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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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