Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the type of evidence that Maryland truck accident victims must present in order to defeat a defense motion for summary judgment. The case presented an interesting, albeit unusual, set of facts in which a motorist struck a bull that had gotten loose and wandered onto the highway. The court ultimately determined that summary judgment in favor of the motorist was appropriate because there was no evidence indicating how long the bull had been in the road.

BullThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving a semi-truck eastbound on a highway when he was struck by the defendant, who had been traveling westbound on the same highway. The collision occurred at night. Immediately prior to the collision, the defendant struck a bull that had wandered onto the highway. This caused the defendant to lose consciousness, resulting in her car drifting into oncoming traffic, where it hit the plaintiff’s truck.

There was evidence presented that the bull had been on the loose for several hours and that a team of people had been looking for it the whole time. Several members of the search team had parked their cars along the east side of the highway. There was also a police car parked on the east side of the highway. The plaintiff testified that she did not recall seeing the cars on the side of the highway. It was established that, at the time of the collision, the plaintiff was traveling under the posted speed limit and had the vehicle’s headlights on.

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Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals decided a truck accident case that is relevant to all Maryland truck accident victims considering filing a claim against the driver they believe to be responsible for their injuries. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether a lower court was proper in striking the plaintiff’s statement of facts as a sanction for failing to comply with the court’s discovery deadlines. Ultimately, the federal appellate court held that the lower court was acting within its discretion when it struck the plaintiff’s statement, and it affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Semi-Truck Head OnThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving on the highway when she was struck from behind by the defendant, who was operating a semi-truck. The collision caused the plaintiff to lose control of her vehicle, which ended up crashing into the center median. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the truck driver as well as the company that employed him.

The defendants claimed that the plaintiff was the one who lost control of her vehicle first, and she was the one who collided with the defendant. In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, both sides asked the court to strike the opposing side’s statement of facts. Specifically, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s statement of facts should be stricken because it relied on expert reports that were not disclosed to the defendant until four months after the deadline for discovery had passed.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a truck accident case that presents an important point for potential Maryland truck accident plaintiffs. The case focused on whether the lower court was proper in granting summary judgment to the defendant after striking the plaintiff’s statement of facts. The appellate court concluded that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in precluding the plaintiff’s statement and granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant because the plaintiff disclosed the substance of his expert’s testimony four months after it was due.

Semi-TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident when the defendant truck driver rear-ended the plaintiff while he was driving on the highway. After the initial collision, the plaintiff lost control of his vehicle, and the car spun out into the median.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant truck driver as well as his employer. The defendant responded to the allegations by claiming that it was the plaintiff who first struck his vehicle and that the plaintiff was the negligent driver.

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Many Maryland truck accidents involve multiple vehicles, and determining which parties to name in a Maryland truck accident lawsuit is a critical decision that must be made early in the process. While courts will allow for plaintiffs to amend their complaint to add additional parties for a short period of time after the complaint is filed, plaintiffs have a limited amount of time to join parties. Additionally, plaintiffs normally must obtain the court’s permission to add additional defendants once the complaint has been filed.

Truck AccidentOf course, plaintiffs should only name defendants if there is a good-faith basis for believing that they may be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. However, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation to make sure that all potentially liable parties are included in the lawsuit. A plaintiff’s failure to include all necessary parties may result in decreased compensation in the event of a favorable verdict.

It is important that Maryland truck accident victims keep in mind that plaintiffs get one chance to file a lawsuit after an accident, and they will not generally be permitted to file a subsequent lawsuit based on the same underlying accident. Additionally, if a potentially liable party is not named in the plaintiff’s complaint, the plaintiff risks the chance that the named defendants will successfully shift the blame for the accident onto a non-present party. If this occurs, the jury may be persuaded that the named defendant is not at all liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, completely precluding a plaintiff’s chance of recovering damages for their injuries.

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Most Maryland truck accidents are avoidable with the exercise of due care on the part of the truck driver. However, the rare occasion may arise in which a truck driver experiences a medical event while behind the wheel, causing the driver to lose control of the truck and cause an accident.

SirenIn these situations, the truck driver may be excused from any subsequent liability that would otherwise arise in the wake of a truck accident. However, that will not necessarily be the case. While some medical events occur without warning, others can be detected in advance or may be caused by a driver’s failure to take required medication. Similarly, a driver may take two medications that have an adverse reaction with each other, causing the driver to lose consciousness or otherwise lose control of his truck.

In these situations, the determination of whether the truck driver is liable for the accident will be made on a case-by-case basis by a judge or jury in a Maryland truck accident lawsuit. The crux of the analysis in this type of accident is whether the defendant’s conduct was negligent. For example, if a truck driver is prescribed daily medication to prevent seizures but fails to take his daily medication, suffers a seizure, and causes an accident, a jury may find that the driver was negligent and responsible for any injuries that occurred as a result of this negligence.

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People who operate large trucks for a living have an obligation to make sure that they do so with the utmost care. While all large vehicles have the potential to cause serious injuries in a Maryland truck accident, construction vehicles are some of the most dangerous, due to their moving parts and proximity to pedestrians and construction workers.

Construction VehicleConstruction sites pose a number of hazards both to pedestrians as well as to the workers on-site. While the operator of a construction vehicle always is responsible for its safety, the foreman of the job site also has a duty to ensure that the vehicles are placed in a safe spot in relation to the job site, as well as making sure that the vehicles are properly secured at the end of the day. A failure by either the operator or the foreman to follow the necessary safety protocols may result in a fatal Maryland truck accident.

In such situations, the family members of the accident victim may be able to pursue compensation for their loss through a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. These claims must usually be brought by a surviving spouse, child, or parent, but they can be brought by other family members in some circumstances. In order to succeed in a Maryland wrongful death action, the plaintiff must be able to establish that the defendant’s negligent act was the cause of their loved one’s death. This can be done through eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony, and the admission of other evidence suggesting the truck’s operator was somehow negligent.

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Maryland truck accidents are often results of one or more commonly occurring negligent driving behaviors, such as intoxication, distraction, or drowsy driving. In most truck accident cases, authorities are able to pin down the cause of a truck accident shortly after the collision. However, in accidents involving multiple vehicles or great loss of life, a more in-depth investigation is often required.

Highway TrafficAccording to a recent article, authorities in California announced the results of a year-long investigation, indicating that they will be bringing charges against the driver of a truck involved in the fatal 2016 accident that claimed 13 lives and injured another 31 passengers. Back in October of last year, a charter bus with over 40 elderly passengers aboard slammed into the rear of a semi-truck that was stopped on the highway.

At the time, it was unclear how the accident could have occurred; however, the investigation uncovered what happened in the moments leading up to the fatal truck accident. Evidently, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) had conducted a routine closure of traffic lanes related to a construction project. Traffic began to back up, and the truck driver stopped the truck in the west-most lane. A short time later, CHP officers opened up the lanes of travel, and traffic began to move again. However, the truck driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel. As traffic picked up, the truck driver stayed asleep. He did not wake up until the bus slammed into the back of his truck, going over 75 miles per hour.

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All large trucks can be dangerous for pedestrians, especially when they are driven on city streets. However, few trucks spend more time around pedestrians than garbage trucks, and that makes garbage trucks a very real danger to pedestrians in Maryland. Indeed, garbage truck drivers spend hours each day slowly crawling through the city streets, often requiring they negotiate traffic jams, tight turns, one-way streets, and a host of other potentially dangerous situations that frequently are seen on city streets and may result in a Maryland truck accident.

Garbage TruckAdditionally, garbage trucks themselves are inherently dangerous because they are large, heavy, and not well-equipped for city streets. Nonetheless, garbage truck drivers have a duty to ensure that they are safely operating the truck at all times. When a driver fails to take the necessary precautions, they may be held liable for any injuries caused to other motorists or pedestrians. Additionally, in some situations, the driver’s employer can also be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which allows for accident victims to hold an employer liable for an employee’s negligent conduct in some situations.

In order for an employer to be liable in a truck accident case, the accident victim must establish that the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. Essentially, courts ask whether the employee was “authorized” by his employer to be engaging in the activity that resulted in the accident.

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When someone is injured in a Maryland car accident that is allegedly caused by the negligent act of a government employee, the injured party may have a claim for damages against both the government employee as well as the government entity itself. However, issues of government immunity often come up in these cases.

Fire TruckEarlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion in a case involving an accident between a fire truck and another passenger vehicle that required the court to determine whether governmental immunity applied. Finding that immunity did not apply, the court rejected the defendants’ asserted immunity and sent the case on toward trial or settlement negotiations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in an accident when he drove his truck into an intersection and collided with a fire truck. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the fireman as well as the city where the fireman was employed.

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School bus drivers are entrusted with carrying society’s most precious cargo – its children. Because of this, school bus drivers are held to a high standard. Indeed, whenever a Maryland school bus accident occurs, the driver is usually suspended, and the accident is investigated.

School BusAfter a Maryland school bus accident, the families of the students involved may be left wondering how the accident occurred and whom they can hold accountable for their child’s injuries. Of course, the obvious answer is the school bus driver or, if the accident was another driver’s fault, the at-fault driver. However, there may be additional parties that can be named in a Maryland school bus accident case, such as the school district and any of the officials responsible for hiring the driver.

Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees. These include school bus drivers, whose employers are usually the school district for which they drive. In some cases, the school district contracts with an outside company who provides the drivers. In any event, when a school bus driver is acting within the scope of his employment and causes an accident, the driver’s employer – whether public or private – may also be held accountable. Of course, establishing vicarious liability requires that proof be submitted establishing that the driver was properly hired and employed at the time of the accident, as well as the fact that he was acting as an employee at the time of the accident.

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