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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When a motorist is involved in a Maryland car accident, the law requires that they remain on the scene and exchange certain information with the other people involved in the accident, including their name, address, and vehicle and insurance information. Additionally, if anyone was injured in the accident, the motorist must ensure the authorities are aware of the accident so that those who need medical assistance can obtain it.

Pedestrian CrossingA driver’s failure to remain on the scene following a Maryland auto accident can result in both civil and criminal liability. In the event that a driver is not located or has insufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the accident victim, the accident victim may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company under the policy’s underinsured motorist provision.

While insurance companies offer fair compensation in response to some claims, too often insurance companies try to evade responsibility by improperly denying a claim. In some situations in which the insurance company knows that it may be liable if the case goes to trial, the insurance company may offer a low-ball settlement offer early in the process in hopes of settling the case cheaply. In any event, Maryland accident victims should not take the insurance company at its word and should retain their own Maryland personal injury attorney to assist them with their claim.

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When a large commercial truck is involved in a Maryland truck accident, a chain of events is set in motion that has the potential to result in a major catastrophe. Semi-trucks and other large transport vehicles are designed to carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo across the nation’s highways. Often, this means traveling on hundreds of miles of open road. Unfortunately, the very design that makes trucks an efficient means of transporting goods also leaves them ill-suited to adeptly respond to sudden changes in the traffic pattern.

Semi-Truck RolloverOne example of a truck driver’s compromised ability to maneuver a large rig is when an accident occurs a short distance ahead of the truck driver. Due to the significant weight of these large trucks – even when they are not fully loaded – a truck driver has a greatly increased stopping distance when traveling at highway speeds. Additionally, the length of a semi-truck prevents a driver from making any spur-of-the-moment evasive maneuvers to avoid an obstacle ahead. When combined, these factors greatly increase the chance of a chain reaction truck accident.

All of this is to say that truck drivers have a difficult job. However, that does not reduce their responsibility to safely operate their vehicle at all times. This may mean slowing down below the posted speed limit or increasing their following distance to beyond what they normally would consider a safe distance. When a truck driver fails to take necessary precautions and ends up causing or contributing to a chain reaction truck accident, both the driver and the driver’s employer may potentially be held liable.

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Most motorists who have spent any amount of time on Maryland highways have probably noticed the frequency of construction vehicles working on or near the highway. These vehicles are necessary to help build and maintain Maryland’s infrastructure; however, when not properly operated or secured, these vehicles can pose a serious risk to motorists and cause Maryland truck accidents.

Construction VehiclesThese large construction vehicles have the potential to cause serious injuries or death when they are not used properly. Indeed, large construction machines are designed to tear down houses, break apart pavement, and move large amounts of earth. Those who use construction vehicles are responsible to operate the vehicle safely, but their duty does not end there. Operators must also ensure that the vehicles are properly secured when they are not being used.

Runaway Dump Truck Kills Two

Earlier this month, a tragic construction vehicle accident claimed two lives, including the vehicle’s operator and another nearby motorist. According to a recent news report covering the accident, the dump truck was parked at a work site that was located atop a hill near a busy roadway. At some point while the dump truck was unoccupied, it began to travel down the hill toward the road below.

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It should come as no surprise that Maryland truck accidents involving large commercial trucks carry the potential to cause major destruction. This is especially the case when the accident involves multiple vehicles or takes place on a crowded highway. Indeed, some of the most devastating Maryland truck accidents involve chain-reaction collisions that begin with one vehicle but end up affecting many others.

Evening City-Scape Determining which driver is responsible in multi-vehicle accidents can be a difficult task, and it is often left up to the courts to decide. Generally speaking, all of the parties who believe they are entitled to compensation will file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries. In chain-reaction car accidents, this usually results in all of the parties involved in the accident being named in the lawsuit. From there, a jury will hear the evidence from each party and come to a determination regarding each party’s respective percentage of fault.

In Maryland personal injury cases, courts apply a very strict rule when determining which parties in an accident are permitted to recover compensation for their injuries. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, any party who is even the slightest bit at fault for an accident will not be permitted to recover compensation from any other person involved in the accident. This stands true even if a plaintiff is determined to be just 5% at fault. Thus, the importance of a thorough investigation and diligent preparation cannot be overstated.

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Truck drivers have a lot of responsibility when operating large commercial vehicles across the nation’s highways. They must ensure that they remain alert during their trip, follow all posted traffic signs, and stay very aware of their surroundings, due to the significant blind spots most large trucks have. These difficulties are only compounded when inclement weather rolls in. Indeed, the number of Maryland truck accidents spikes during the winter months, when road conditions are most compromised. Often, weather-related truck accidents are caused in part by unexpected or otherwise dangerous road conditions. However, truck driver error also plays a role in most weather-related truck accidents.

Icy RoadTruck drivers are responsible to account for the current weather and road conditions when operating their rig. This may mean pulling off to the side of the road during an especially bad snowstorm or traveling below the posted speed limit. When a truck driver fails to take these additional precautions, it is not just the weather that is to blame but also the truck driver.

Those injured in a Maryland truck accident have the ability to file a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the allegedly negligent driver and, in many cases, against the driver’s employer as well.

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Last month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a truck accident case that is of interest to Maryland truck accident victims because it deals with how courts should handle evidence of a plaintiff’s marijuana use at a personal injury trial. Ultimately, the court determined that admitting the fact that the plaintiff had previously used marijuana, but not within the 36 hours leading up to the accident, would not be proper. Thus, the court prevented the defendant’s expert witness from testifying to that effect.

Semi-Truck on HighwayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving southbound on the highway in the evening hours. The defendant was a truck driver who was also traveling on the highway, although in the opposite direction. The defendant had previously pulled off the highway to take a nap and was pulling back onto the highway when he struck the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The plaintiff has no recollection of the accident, although his passenger testified that the truck suddenly appeared in their lane, and, despite the plaintiff’s attempts to avoid the truck, he was unable to do so. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized as a result. During his hospitalization, he was asked if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He responded that he occasionally smokes marijuana but had not within the past 36 hours.

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Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles used to transport goods across the country are necessary to the nation’s economy. Most of the time, truck drivers spend their time on highways, bringing goods from one side of the country to the other. These highways with long straightaways, several lanes, and wide shoulders were designed to accommodate large trucks. Of course, Maryland truck accidents still occur on highways across the state.

Dangerous CrosswalkAs truck drivers approach their final destination, however, it is likely that they will need to navigate smaller roads that were not designed for large trucks. These roads may present truck drivers with several difficulties, including limited room to turn, reduced visibility, and crowds of people both in the form of other motorists as well as those on bicycles and on foot.

While driving a large truck on a small city street may be challenging, truck drivers are still held to the same high standard as though they were driving on the open road. This includes refraining from drinking or taking drugs while on the road, following traffic laws and all posted signs, and also maintaining the required amount of rest between trips. When truck drivers fail to take the necessary precautions while driving, and they cause an accident injuring one or more people, they may be held responsible through a Maryland truck accident lawsuit.

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