Any time an accident occurs on the highway, there is a chance that the vehicles approaching the collision will not be able to see the collision until it is too late for them to safely avoid it. While the possibility of a Maryland truck accident involving a chain reaction is always present, certain factors make these accidents much more likely.truck

For example, the weather and road conditions may result in motorists having decreased visibility. When this occurs, it is up to motorists to adjust their speed accordingly to ensure that they are driving at a safe speed for the conditions. The type of vehicle being operated also factors into the likelihood that a driver will be able to stop in time to avoid an upcoming collision.

Large trucks and buses literally weigh a ton – up to 40 tons, to be exact. Such an immense amount of weight – especially when traveling at high speeds – puts a major burden on a vehicle’s brakes. In fact, a fully loaded semi-truck traveling at just 55 miles per hour takes about 100 yards to come to a complete stop. A truck traveling at 65 miles per hour takes almost twice that distance to come to a stop.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a wrongful death case upholding a jury verdict in excess of $10 million. The case illustrates one of the many situations in which the victims of a Maryland train accident may be able to obtain compensation for the injuries or losses they sustained in the accident.coffin

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who was killed in a railroad-crossing accident. Evidently, the plaintiff’s husband was driving with a friend on a country road as they approached a set of railroad tracks. The evidence presented at trial showed that there was one black-and-white “RAILROAD CROSSING” sign. However, the plaintiff’s evidence also suggested that the intersection had become overgrown with vegetation, such that it was difficult to see the sign.

As the plaintiff’s husband approached the intersection, a train approached as well. It was disputed whether the train’s horn was sounded, but the train ultimately collided with the plaintiff’s husband’s vehicle. The plaintiff’s husband was killed in the accident, and the passenger was seriously injured. The plaintiff’s husband filed this case against the railroad company. The passenger filed a personal injury lawsuit against the train’s operator as well as the plaintiff’s husband, and they settled with both parties prior to trial. Thus, the plaintiff’s case proceeded without the passenger’s case.

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semi-truckIn Maryland truck accident cases, the plaintiff must be able to establish each of the elements of their claim in order to be successful. Simply stated, these elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the causation element of a negligence lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial based on the fact that the defendant truck driver created a substantial risk of harm to the plaintiff when he parked on the side of the highway.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was traveling on the highway shortly before 7:00 a.m. when he approached a semi-truck that had been parked on the side of the road. The truck, which was occupied by the defendants, was parked in the emergency lane, about ten inches away from the nearest lane of travel.

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Over the past few months, Maryland has seen an unusual amount of rain. This weather, aside from ruining summer plans, also creates a hazard for Maryland motorists. Wet roads create numerous difficulties for motorists, most of which can be avoided by slowing down and paying close attention to the road conditions. One of the most common causes of Maryland traffic accidents during a rainstorm is hydroplaning.

Rainy CommuteHydroplaning occurs when a vehicle travels not on the surface of the roadway as it would in dry conditions, but instead on a thin layer of water on top of the road’s surface. In order for a vehicle to hydroplane, there only needs to be a tiny amount of water on the roadway. Thus, most hydroplaning accidents occur within the first ten minutes of a rainstorm, when the road doesn’t necessarily look slippery to motorists.

There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of a vehicle hydroplaning, including:

  • The vehicle’s gross weight;
  • Driving on improperly inflated tires;
  • Traveling at excessive speeds;
  • Driving on worn tires;
  • The depth of the water on the roadway; and
  • Making a sharp turn.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue for many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs. The case arose after a truck accident in which the plaintiff, a woman originally from Mexico without a valid work permit for the United States, was injured in an accident with a truck driver. The case required the court to discuss whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial after defense counsel made several veiled comments regarding the plaintiff’s immigration status.

Semi-TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when the defendant truck driver made an allegedly improper lane change into the plaintiff’s vehicle. Many facts in the case were contested, with the plaintiff and defendant each maintaining different stories of how the accident occurred.

As a part of the plaintiff’s case, she had a medical expert testify regarding her injuries and what treatment she would likely need in the future, as well as the cost of that treatment. During cross-examination of that witness, defense counsel asked the expert if he was aware if the plaintiff was going to “move back” to Mexico. Defense counsel made another reference to the fact that the plaintiff spoke primarily Spanish and only limited English.

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When a jury returns a verdict in a plaintiff’s favor, the jury will then move to the next stage of the process where it determines the appropriate amount of damages that the plaintiff or plaintiffs are entitled to. In most Maryland personal injury cases, the figure the jury arrives at will be given great respect by the trial judge, and will only be modified under certain circumstances. A recent truck accident case illustrates the level of deference that judges give to jury verdicts.

Car on FireThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff lost his wife and daughter, and his son was seriously injured, when the three were involved in a serious accident. The plaintiff’s wife was driving the couple’s two children in the slow lane on the highway when a Fed Ex truck slammed into the back of the family’s car. It was going approximately 65 miles per hour. The collision resulted in the deaths of the plaintiff’s wife and daughter, and seriously injured his nineteen-month-old son.

The plaintiff filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit on behalf of himself and his son against several of the parties involved, including Fed Ex and the driver of the truck who worked for an independent contractor that was retained by Fed Ex. After the case was submitted to a jury, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The verdict was broken down into economic and non-economic damages. The economic damages consisted of about 1-3% of the total damages award.

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While every precaution can be taken to avoid a Maryland school bus accident, some accidents may be unforeseeable. In fact, earlier this year two people were killed and dozens other injured when a school bus attempted to make a legal U-turn across three lanes of traffic. According to a local news report, the bus was traveling in a caravan with two other busses when the drivers missed an exit. Afterwards, all three drivers determined their own route to get to the final destination.

School Bus SafetyOne of the busses attempted to make a U-turn on the highway. However, a dump truck rear-ended the school bus as it tried to cross three lanes of perpendicular traffic to complete its turn. The impact of the collision tore the bus off of its frame.

In the wake of this fatal accident, lawmakers have begun a push to install three-point seatbelts – similar to those found in cars – in all district school busses. Lawmakers believe that by installing seatbelts in school busses, the chance of an accident resulting in serious injury or death will be greatly decreased. Indeed, in the days following this specific accident the National Transportation Safety Board announced its recommendation that all school busses should be equipped with some type of seatbelt for students.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue that commonly arises in Maryland bus accident lawsuits. The case presented the court with the task of determining if the instructions given to the jury regarding the aggravation of the plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries were supported by the evidence presented at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that the defendant’s actions aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition, and thus it reversed the jury’s verdict.

Bus FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a bus when a motorist pulled out in front of the bus, leaving the bus driver with an inadequate distance to stop. The bus collided with the vehicle, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

The plaintiff complained of lower back pain and stiffness, which he claimed was a result of the accident. Ultimately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with disc degeneration. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus.

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When it comes to determining who can bring a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the person or people they believe to be responsible for their injuries, Maryland has one of the strictest laws in the nation. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff who is found even to be at all at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries will be precluded from recovering compensation for their injuries.

Railroad TracksThe alternative, used by most states, is called comparative fault. Under the comparative fault analysis, a plaintiff who is partially at fault can still recover for their injuries; however, their recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. A recent case illustrates how a case may turn out very differently in a state that applies comparative fault versus one that applies contributory negligence.

A Woman’s Husband Is Killed by a Fast-Moving Train

The plaintiff in the case was the surviving spouse of a man who was killed when his truck was crushed by a train at an intersection. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff alleged that the railway was negligent in failing to trim the foliage surrounding the intersection, which obscured motorists’ vision and prevented them from seeing whether a train was coming. The plaintiff also claimed that the employees of the railway were negligent because, from their higher vantage point, they should have seen her husband’s truck at the intersection.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an interesting car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff was entitled to compensation for his medical expenses that were incurred though an out-of-network provider. Ultimately, the court held that an accident victim has the right to choose where to obtain treatment, even if he is insured and chooses an out-of-network provider.

LabcoatThe defendant’s argument that the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages did not convince the court, and the defendant insurance company was on the hook for the sum of the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Although the case arose in another state, the case is important for Maryland truck accident victims because it paves the way for similar arguments to be made in Maryland courts.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seriously injured when another driver struck him while he was changing a flat tire on his motorhome on the side of the road. Initially, the plaintiff obtained medical treatment through a medical care provider that was covered by his insurance. However, after filing a personal injury case, the plaintiff then switched his medical care provider to one that was not covered by his insurance policy.

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