Accidents involving semi-trucks can occur at any time of day and in any weather condition. But when wet weather and slippery road conditions make roads unsafe, the chances of collisions between cars and trucks increase. Underride accidents, where smaller passenger cars collide with large trailers and trucks are often deadly because the difference in the size of the vehicles causes a car to become compressed under the trailer, either from the side or behind the trailer, and sometimes even from the front in a head-on collision. A car can become involved in a side underride accident when a semi-truck or tractor-trailer is turning and the driver does not see the truck in their path or the driver assumes the truck will leave its path sooner than it does. While large trucks are required to have rear underride guards to prevent cars from sliding under the rear of the vehicle in the case of a collision, there is not currently a similar requirement for side underride guards, increasing the likelihood of a devastating accident.

A recent example involves an accident on a slippery road that caused a car to crash into big-rig trailer as it was making a turn into the left lane, resulting in the car sliding under the trailer and becoming wedged between the road and the trailer, flattening the roof of the car. In this instance, the driver of the car was alive and conscious at the time that first responders got to the scene and was transported to the hospital. While his condition was not reported, it is likely that the driver will face a long journey toward recovery and significant medical bills. However, if the truck had side underride guards, the accident would likely have been less serious.

In 2019, bipartisan efforts in the Senate led to the introduction of the Stop Underrides Act, requiring front, rear, and side underride guards for certain trucks and trailers. But as of now, it has not been passed. In cases where an underride accident may have been prevented if there was an appropriate underride guard installed, victims or their families may be inclined to sue for damages. The impact of losing a loved one or losing one’s freedom due to a severe injury does not come with a price, but there are significant costs that come with a major accident. For those costs, victims should be entitled to receive full compensation for their physical and emotional losses, whether it is loss of mobility, independence, or loss of life itself.

Interstates and highways are often the scenes of serious truck accidents and, unfortunately, claim many lives each year. At high speeds, trucks can easily cause multi-vehicle crashes when drivers are distracted or fall asleep at the wheel. Losing a loved one in a truck accident is devastating and shocking, and family members often don’t know what their options are or how to pursue them. Under state law, family members can recover damages to help pay for the costly and painful impact of losing a loved one in a Maryland truck accident.

In a recent accident, a careless truck driver was driving one morning when he collided with multiple passing cars, leaving a father and his young son dead, and many others injured. According to a news report, the series of events started when the semi-truck driver rear-ended a car and then continued to drive for at least a mile down the interstate, hitting four more cars and injuring others in the process. The surviving drivers and passengers were taken to nearby hospitals. The driver was taken into police custody soon after the collisions and faces criminal charges in addition to whatever civil claims the victims and their families may file.

A fatal car accident can be a shock and surviving family members may not know where to turn or what to do to get justice for their loved ones. While most people are familiar with criminal charges that reckless drivers may face for causing an accident, they may not know that there are often civil remedies available to them as well that can help recover financially, even though nothing can bring back their loved one.

Trucking accidents often lead to serious or fatal injuries because of the strength and power of the vehicles involved. Victims of Maryland trucking accidents may be dealing with debilitating injuries, the loss of employment, and even the loss of a loved one. If another individual or entity is responsible for injuries arising from a Maryland trucking accident, victims can file claims against those responsible to recover damages for their losses.

In a civil claim, all damages must be proven at trial, unless the parties agree to settle the claim prior to trial. Damages that are recoverable depend on the facts and circumstances of the case, but generally, damages can be recovered for the injuries and losses that the plaintiff suffered due to the defendant’s wrongful actions. Compensatory damages refer to the damages that compensate the victim for the losses suffered. In general, compensatory damages can be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those with a fixed dollar value, such as the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, the cost of physical therapy, and transportation costs. Non-economic damages do not have a fixed dollar value, such as mental suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of parental or filial care. Economic damages do not have a limit, but there is generally a limit on non-economic damages in Maryland accident cases. Punitive damages are also available in some cases. In a Maryland injury case, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant acted with actual malice, or with knowing and deliberate wrongdoing. Punitive damages are awarded in cases to serve as a deterrent for others or as a punishment for the defendant’s malicious actions.

A plaintiff must prove damages at trial by a “preponderance of the evidence,” though they must prove punitive damages by a higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence.” In a wrongful death case, the family member who files the case may recover damages to compensate the family member for the loss of their loved one.

Although DUI crash statistics often focus on the use of alcohol, Maryland DUI crashes can also be caused by the use of drugs. A DUI offense in Maryland includes driving while impaired by a drug, combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance. This includes prescription drugs or controlled substances taken for medicinal use. Drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs may be liable for any resulting injuries or damages. And while traffic decreased due to the pandemic, crashes involving alcohol and drugs increased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in a study of five hospitals between March 2020 and July 2020, almost two-thirds of seriously or fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug.

Victims in a Maryland DUI truck accident may be able to recover financial compensation through a personal injury claim. Even in a case where the truck driver was not convicted of a crime for driving while under the influence, a civil claim may still be possible. The standard for proving a civil case is not as high as in a criminal case and only requires that a plaintiff proves the case by a preponderance of the evidence. Still, evidence of a driver’s conviction in criminal court may be useful evidence in a civil case against the driver.

After any crash, victims should seek medical attention and meet with a lawyer as soon as possible in order to have the case evaluated and to understand what steps to take to protect their rights and preserve relevant evidence. In general, a plaintiff in a civil claim based on the driver negligently driving under the influence of drugs will need to prove that the driver had a duty towards the plaintiff, failed to meet that duty by acting or failing to act in some way, caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff suffered damages.

When most people think about car accidents, they usually assume that a crash takes place between two parties. Sometimes, however, car accidents can often take many forms and levels of complexity. In some cases, crashes can involve multiple parties and it can be unclear who is at fault, how to establish fault, or even how the accident took place. This is especially the case in Maryland truck accidents, which often end up in chain-reaction collisions.

According to a recent news report, a five-vehicle accident left one person dead. The crash took place when a car was heading west and the driver veered into an eastbound lane and collided with a propane truck. Upon impact, the propane truck rolled over and crashed into at least two other vehicles and caught on fire but did not explode. Local authorities reported that the driver of the initial vehicle that crashed into the propane truck died at the scene, the propane truck driver was transported to a local hospital, and the condition of the other drivers remained unknown.

Maryland, like many other states, has specific laws on how to determine fault in car accidents involving multiple parties and a complicated chain of events. When it comes to establishing liability, Maryland law uses joint and several liability, which allows for there to be more than one cause of a car crash.

The person behind the wheel when a crash occurs is often looked at first as the party at fault. However, in some accidents, the driver does not bear any blame. A car may have a defect due to a manufacturing or design defect or because of a faulty repair. In the case of a faulty repair of a truck or other vehicle, the repair shop may be liable for negligence through filing a Maryland negligence claim.

In a Maryland negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the defendant failed to meet the degree of care by required acting or failing to act in some way, that the plaintiff suffered damages because of the wrongful act, and that the defendant’s wrongful act caused the plaintiff damages. A plaintiff has to demonstrate that it was more likely than not that the damages were caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct.

A repair shop may be liable for negligence if the repair shop was responsible for repairing a vehicle, failed to make the necessary repairs, the plaintiff suffered damages because of the repair shop’s faulty repair, and the plaintiff suffered actual damages. A repair shop may claim that the repair was completed according to expected professional standards or that an accident was caused by another issue. Plaintiffs in a successful negligence claim may be able to recover financial compensation including medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and emotional suffering.

Large vehicles, especially commercial trucks, are often more susceptible to car accidents because of their size and the dexterity required by drivers to operate them. Because they require more space for turns, backing up, or just generally traveling along any stretch of road, accidents can take place for a variety of reasons. If the truck driver cannot see you because of the size of the truck, or if the vehicle is operated negligently, for example, the likelihood of an accident is amplified.

Sometimes, however, mechanical failures that have nothing to do with a truck driver’s negligence or lack of care can take place and result in major accidents. When these mechanical or structural failures happen, they can be deadly when combined with a negligent truck driver operating tricky road conditions.

According to a news report, a dump truck collided with two cars, which led to three people being transported to a local hospital for treatment. Images from the scene show that the truck careened downhill and violently crashed into a stone wall before coming to a rest on the other side of the wall. The truck had extensive frontal damage.

Left turns are one of the most dangerous driving maneuvers a motorist can make on the road. Although liability often turns on the person making the left-hand turn, there are certain situations where the left-hand driver may not be responsible for the accident. However, regardless of liability, Maryland left-hand turn accidents often result in serious injuries and property damage. After a left-hand turn in a car or truck accident, victims or their loved ones should contact an attorney to discuss their rights to compensation.

The Maryland Department of Transportation reports that over 50% of all accidents in the state involve a collision between a vehicle making a left turn and an oncoming vehicle. Most of these accidents occur at an intersection and often involve a driver engaging in some negligent driving. The most common reasons for left-hand turns include:

  • Speeding motorists

After a Maryland truck accident, victims may have to deal with immunity defenses if one or more defendants are government entities. For example, if a truck driver or other vehicle driver was working for a city government or another government entity at the time of the crash, the defendant may assert immunity as a defense to the lawsuit.

Generally, state and local governments in Maryland are protected from lawsuits through immunity. Similarly, employees of state and local governments are generally protected from lawsuits while they are acting within their official capacity. They are generally immune from lawsuits unless immunity is waived in some way. Immunity is specifically waived in some circumstances under the law. For example, a city government generally is not protected when carrying out proprietary functions—generally, propriety functions that are done for the benefit or profit of a corporation. In contrast, city governments are protected when carrying out government functions—generally, those that are sanctioned by the legislature, are only done for the benefit of the public and have no element of private interest. Employees also may lose the protection of immunity if they act with malice or gross negligence. Immunity for states such as the state of Maryland, as opposed to city and county government, is generally broader. But immunity may still be waived if, for example, the employee was not acting within the scope of their public duties or if the employee acted with malice or gross negligence.

Additional requirements may also apply in claims against the government. For example, in claims against the state under the Maryland Tort Claims Act, normally, a claimant is required to submit a claim in writing to the state’s treasurer within one year of the injury. Then if the treasurer denies the claim, the claim can then be filed in court—generally within three years of the cause of action arising.

After a Maryland accident, there may be more than one party responsible for the victim’s damages. The idea of a “joint tortfeasor” stems from the theory that an event or injury may result from the separate yet joint actions of two or more parties. Under Maryland’s Joint Tortfeasor Act (MJTA), a party determined to be a joint tortfeasor is responsible for the entire amount of the victim’s damages. This applies regardless of whether one party is more responsible than the other.

These cases often occur in multi-vehicle car accidents, especially those involving truck drivers. While the law does not require a plaintiff to file a lawsuit against all of the culpable parties, they maintain the option of suing all joint tortfeasors in a single action. However, if a plaintiff files against one joint tortfeasor, that party has the option of bringing in all additional tortfeasors as third-party defendants.

For instance, another state supreme court recently issued an opinion in a lawsuit stemming from a multi-vehicle truck accident. In that case, the plaintiff was driving a truck through a construction area when a flagger held up a sign reading “SLOW.” When the driver slowed down, the flagger abruptly changed the sign to “STOP.” As the plaintiff slammed on his brakes, a driver operating a tractor-trailer behind him rear-ended him. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries and filed a lawsuit against the tractor-trailers employers. The employer sought contributions from several third parties, including the general contractor.

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