After any accident, an injured motorist and any passengers are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party they believe to be at fault for causing the accident. In many cases involving private citizens named as defendants, the process is a fairly straightforward one, requiring only that the motorcyclist prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries. However, when the at-fault party is a government employee or contractor, there may be issues of immunity that must be overcome.

MailboxAs a general rule, government agencies and their employees are entitled to immunity from personal injury lawsuits arising out of any actions related to the performance of a government function. While this seems like an extremely broad grant of immunity, the reality is that there are many exceptions to the general rule. For example, if a government employee is acting recklessly or is in violation of the law at the time of the accident, immunity will not likely attach.

Even if government immunity is not likely given the circumstances of the accident, it is advisable that anyone injured by a government employee contact a dedicated personal injury attorney prior to filing a case. For example, plaintiffs filing lawsuits against government agencies and their employees generally must comply with additional procedural requirements or risk that their case is prematurely dismissed.

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Earlier this month in Honduras, a bus accident claimed the lives of at least 23 people and injured several more. According to a national news source, the accident involved a passenger bus and a large semi-truck. Evidently, the collision occurred a few miles from the nation’s capital, when the semi-truck inexplicably drifted out of its lane and into the path of the passenger bus. Witnesses to the accident told police that the truck had been speeding and was zig-zagging in the moments before the fatal truck accident. In all, 23 people were killed and 39 more injured. Of the injured, two were in serious condition.

Big TruckAuthorities are currently investigating the accident and whether the driver of the semi-truck was speeding or otherwise in violation of any traffic law. A preliminary investigation determined that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol at the time, although the driver was arrested while the investigation was conducted. The results of the investigation have not yet been released.

Maryland Truck Accidents

With its central location and hundreds of miles of highways, Maryland sees thousands of trucks cross through the state each week. While most of these truck drivers are responsible professionals who take their job seriously, occasionally a truck driver bends a traffic rule, drives in an aggressive manner, or stays out on the road while too tired to safely operate their vehicle.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia jury awarded a Louisiana woman $15 million in a truck accident lawsuit. According to a local news source reporting on the recently resolved case, the accident occurred back in April 2015 on a Georgia highway. Evidently, a car full of six nursing students on their way to a hospital rotation in Savannah was stopped in a long line of traffic when a semi-truck came from behind, slamming into them.

Big TruckThe truck was traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour and did not apply the brakes at all in the moments leading up to the crash. Five of the six people inside the car were killed. The families of the five deceased students filed wrongful death lawsuits against the driver of the truck as well as the trucking company that employed him. These lawsuits have all been settled out of court. However, the trucking company was unable to reach a settlement with the lone survivor, and that case went to trial.

At trial, the jury heard that the woman sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of the crash and suffers from ongoing anxiety. Her roommate told jurors that the woman “is scared to sleep alone because her dreams are so scary and she wakes up in a puddle of sweat” and that she is afraid to be alone.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion discussing the situations when a court should issue a default judgment when a defendant in a lawsuit fails to respond to the plaintiff’s claim. In the recent case, the appellate court ultimately reversed a lower court’s default judgment after applying a multi-factor test.

Logging TruckThe Facts of the Case

The defendant, a semi-truck driver, was backing a load of logs into his driveway when the plaintiff crashed into his truck. At the time of the accident, the truck was blocking all of the lanes of travel. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, which the defendant failed to answer. After approximately three months, the court issued a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Two months after the default judgment was entered, the defendant submitted a motion to the court, asking it to set aside the judgment. In support of his motion, the defendant submitted an affidavit from a witness to the accident, stating that the defendant had taken reasonable precautions, including placing cones and using the truck’s four-way flashing lights. The defendant also claimed that, on the day of the accident, he notified his insurance company about the accident. The defendant explained that he thought this meant that the insurance company was investigating the accident and that no further action was needed on his part. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

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Over the next several months of winter, Maryland will likely see numerous rain and snow storms. Indeed, the average amount of snowfall in Maryland as a whole is over 20 inches per year. In some areas of the state, the average reaches above 100 inches per year. It will come as no surprise to motorists to hear that the road conditions after a snowstorm can be extremely dangerous for all motorists. This is especially the case for those operating large semi-trucks or tractor-trailers.

Snowy RoadCommercial drivers who operate these large trucks are considered professional drivers and are required to obtain a certain amount of training. However, no amount of training can substitute for the good judgment required to safely operate a large truck on slick and icy Maryland roads after a snow storm. Not all truck accidents are avoidable, but there are certain things that all truck drivers should do in order to ensure safe travel during inclement road conditions:

  • Ensure that all tires are in good condition and are properly inflated;
  • Double-check the braking systems before each trip;
  • Ensure adequate stopping distance by not following too closely;
  • Always remain distraction-free; and
  • Maintain a safe speed given the conditions.

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Mass transit companies transport millions and millions of people each day on buses, trains, and trolleys. Most of the time, these companies hire dedicated operators who are experienced and knowledgeable. However, mass transit systems can be extremely large and complex, and sometimes mistakes are made.

Train StationMass transit companies are often either owned and operated by the local government or operated through a contract with the government. When an accident occurs, there may be several liable parties, depending on the circumstances of the accident. In some cases, responsible parties may attempt to convince the court that they are immune from liability. In other cases, unfair settlement offers are made early in the process to try to make the case “go away” as cheaply as possible for the city or its insurance company. Anyone injured in a Maryland or Washington, D.C mass transit accident should consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss their case.

Trolley Accident in Philadelphia Injures 50

Earlier this month, an accident involving two trolleys in Philadelphia injured roughly 50 people. According to an industry news source, the National Transportation Safety Board – the government entity charged with the investigation of certain highway accidents – initiated a probe into the accident, looking at collision avoidance technology and the level of oversight of individual operators. The trolleys were operated by the local mass transit carrier, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). SEPTA is also responsible for the network of local above- and below-ground trains.

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Earlier this month in California, a man was killed when he was run over by a semi-truck driver. According to one local news source covering the tragic accident, the victim, who is believed to have been homeless, took shelter under the truck to escape the rain. At the time the man crawled under the truck, no one was in the cab, so he left his wheelchair next to the truck and took shelter. However, the driver of the truck returned after a short time.

18-WheelerWhen the driver returned from running errands, he got into the cab of the truck and pulled off. He immediately realized what had happened and turned the truck around. He later explained to police that he didn’t see the man under the truck. While the article does not discuss whether the truck driver conducted a pre-trip vehicle check before pulling away, it is likely he did not because had he performed a check, it is likely he would have seen the man under the truck.

At the time of the article’s publication, the accident was still under investigation, and no citations had been issued.

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Semi-truck accidents are known to be some of the most dangerous accidents, and also some of the most difficult to avoid. Unlike many other accidents, there is often little to nothing other motorists can do to avoid a semi-truck accident. This is especially the case when semi-trucks are being driven at high speeds.

Highway TrafficTo help manage the risk that semi-trucks pose on our nation’s highways, state and federal lawmakers have enacted rules and regulations for the trucking industry. For example, truck drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license, can only drive a certain number of hours per day and per week, and depending on what they are transporting, may be required to pre-register their cargo as well as their chosen route. All these regulations are enacted to keep the general public safe, and when a semi-truck driver or trucking company fails to follow these rules, they may be held liable for any injuries caused as a result.

Chain-Reaction Accident on Expressway Claims Three Lives, Injures Several Others

Earlier this week in New York City, a semi-truck accident on the Cross Bronx Expressway killed three motorists and injured several others. According to one local news source covering the tragic accident, a semi-truck was stopped in traffic in the middle of the Expressway when another truck came from behind. The second truck failed to stop in time to avoid a collision, and it slammed into the rear of a pick-up truck that had come to a stop behind the first truck. Another passenger vehicle was also struck by the second truck.

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Earlier this month in North Carolina, a five-year-old boy was killed when he was struck by an unattended dump truck. According to one local news report covering the tragedy, police investigating the accident believe that the truck was not properly secured when it was left unattended by the construction crew.

Construction EquipmentEvidently, the truck was parked on the side of a road in a residential neighborhood, near the top of a hill. A witness to the accident told reporters that a construction worker exited the truck, and then shortly afterward, the truck started rolling down the hill. The truck rolled for approximately 100 yards, taking down overhead power lines along the way, until it entered a resident’s driveway. The resident’s five-year-old boy was playing in the driveway and was struck by the unmanned dump truck. The young boy was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police arrested one man, whom they claim was responsible for the dump truck before it began to roll away. While the police have not disclosed the evidence they are using to make their assessment, they believe that the dump truck was not properly restrained when the construction worker exited the truck. Police are also looking into the safety record of the construction company to determine if similar violations have occurred in the past.

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Earlier this month in Michigan, a truck accident involving 53 vehicles claimed the lives of three people. According to one local news source covering the tragedy, the accident occurred when a sudden snowfall caused white-out conditions on the highway. Evidently, the massive chain reaction accident began when a semi-truck jackknifed, blocking most of the lanes on the highway.

Snowy HighwayAuthorities do not know exactly what happened in the moments after the initial collision between several cars and the jackknifed semi-truck, due to the number of subsequent collisions and vehicles involved. However, authorities are confident in labeling this as a weather-related accident, since the road already had a thin sheet of ice on it before it started to snow.

Witnesses to the accident told reporters that cars and trucks approaching the pile-up were applying their brakes as soon as they could see the upcoming collision, but they were often too late. Dozens of vehicles collided on the highway, and dozens more ended up off the road in an attempt to avoid what would have been a certain collision.

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