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.

With limited visibility for the driver and weighing in at over 20 thousand pounds, the average dump truck can pose a serious hazard to others on the road. Indeed, a Maryland cyclist recently collided with a dump truck. Although this particular truck accident did not claim any lives, reports note that the cyclist required emergency medical care. According to a recent news report, the accident happened on the morning of July 1 when a dump truck allegedly struck a cyclist riding on the northbound side of the Rockville Pike.

As the cyclist heals, Maryland authorities will work to uncover which parties were at fault in the accident. Any party that acted negligently in conjunction with this accident was at least partially at fault. A driver or bicyclist acts negligently when she fails to follow the rules of the road. For example, the cyclist in this accident was almost certainly required to travel with traffic rather than against it. Whether the cyclist was traveling north or south when the accident happened will therefore affect any determination of liability. Establishing liability is critical to determining what compensation is due and to whom.

In a majority of cases where a bike and motor vehicle collide, it is the operator of the motor vehicle who behaved negligently and is therefore at fault. According to one study of bike-car collisions, motorists are at fault in over 80 percent of these types of crashes, whereas cyclists are at fault less than 20 percent of the time. Maryland recognizes the legal concept of contributory negligence, which means that multiple parties in a crash can be held to some degree of fault.

As we often detail on this blog, Maryland truck and bus accidents can have disastrous impacts, resulting in serious bodily injuries or even death. There is no shortage of examples of this, but take a recent crash, occurring one Monday morning when a bus preparing to let passengers get off was hit by a utility truck. The utility truck burst into flames, and the driver was killed. Additionally, 14 of the 15 passengers on the bus were taken to area hospitals with injuries. This accident is just one of the many truck and bus accidents that occur every day.

Because these accidents can be so serious, they are often followed by Maryland personal injury lawsuits—lawsuits seeking to recover financially from the party who caused the accident, to cover medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. But what happens when the driver who caused the accident cannot cover the full amount owed to plaintiffs, due to lack of finances? Well, for some plaintiffs, they may be able to also sue the negligent driver’s employer, especially since trucks and buses are often driven by drivers in the scope of their employment for someone else, such as a food company or tourism business. The employers may be liable for the damage caused through a doctrine called vicarious liability.

For the doctrine of vicarious liability to apply, the plaintiff must prove all the typical elements of a tort with respect to the driver’s conduct—duty, breach, causation, and harm—and then also prove that the driver was acting in the scope of their employment. A driver who is driving for work is driving within the scope of their employment unless they were engaged in some major detour. For example, if a pizza delivery driver is on their way to deliver a pizza when they get into an accident, then there is likely vicarious liability and the pizza restaurant may be liable. But if the delivery driver delivers the pizza and then decides to not return to work but instead drives their girlfriend around town, then an accident occurring during this detour may not give rise to vicarious liability.

Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are not the only types of large vehicles that can be involved in dangerous or tragic accidents. Passenger busses are similar in size and weight to some commercial vehicles, and accidents involving busses can be especially dangerous when considering their human cargo. A recently occurring accident involving a school bus with children onboard is a reminder of the risks of being on the road alongside large vehicles, and the importance of safe driving in general.

According to a local news report discussing the accident, a school bus was traveling on the roadway taking children home from a summer program when traffic in front of the bus abruptly stopped. A child on the bus told reporters that the bus driver was unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with the cars in front of it, and the accident occurred. After the initial collision, several cars that were behind the school bus crashed into the school bus. Emergency crews responded to the scene of the crash and at least two people were hospitalized with injuries from the crash. Fortunately, no children were injured in the crash, and nobody was seriously injured or killed.

Maryland drivers are responsible to follow other vehicles at a safe distance. To prevent a rear-end collision, it is generally the responsibility of drivers to leave enough distance in between them and the car in front of them to prevent a crash if any car abruptly stops. Drivers operating large or heavily loaded vehicles that may not stop as quickly as other vehicles have a responsibility to allow enough distance between themselves and other vehicles to account for their own increased stopping distance. In the event that a rear-end accident occurs after a following vehicle fails to stop in time, the driver of the vehicle that didn’t stop can be cited for following too closely.

All Maryland truck accidents have the potential to be life-threatening and cause serious bodily harm or death. While some drivers may have the good fortune of escaping a Maryland truck accident with just some scrapes, many others may find themselves significantly injured, in the hospital, or even fighting for their lives. Unfortunately, these accidents are more common than many people realize. Across the state, truck accidents claim the lives of far too many Maryland residents.

Tragically, these truck accidents can happen even when someone is in a vehicle that is supposed to bring them to safety: an ambulance. Just like other vehicles, ambulances share the road with trucks, and they often are driving very fast, trying to get an injured occupant to the hospital safely. Tragedy might strike, then, if an ambulance and a truck get into an accident. For example, just recently, a major crash between a dump truck and an ambulance left two people dead and others injured. According to a local news report that covered the accident, the crash occurred around 10:20 one Tuesday morning when an ambulance driving southbound was t-boned by a dump truck in the passenger side. The driver of the ambulance, a 28-year-old woman, and the driver of the truck, a 67-year-old man, were both taken to local hospitals with life-threatening injuries. Fortunately, both survived. Not so lucky were the two passengers of the ambulance: a 17-year-old boy and a 51-year-old male paramedic were both killed in the crash.

This accident highlights how tragic Maryland truck accidents can be, especially when they involve an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance. Maryland residents want to feel that when they call an ambulance because of an emergency, they can trust the ambulance will take them safely to help. While this is true for the vast majority of cases, Maryland residents must remember that ambulances travel on the same roads as every other vehicle and are still susceptible to car and truck accidents. After these accidents, those involved likely will want to know if and how they can recover against the negligent driver. Can they sue for monetary damages? How much can they get? How does their being in an ambulance complicate their recovery? With these questions, Maryland truck accident victims should read out to a personal injury attorney knowledgeable in this area of the law. While some may be tempted to file their lawsuit themselves, in an attempt to save costs, they may find themselves completely barred from recovery because they did not know how to file properly or because they had trouble understanding how exactly to bring a case of this nature to trial. Working with an experienced attorney, who is not paid unless you are, can help ensure maximum chances for success at recovery.

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) prioritizes keeping Maryland roadways open and safe. However, despite MDOT SHA’s best efforts to maintain the roadways, any infrastructure damage can result in a serious Maryland accident. These accidents tend to become more common and disastrous when the accident involves bad weather and large trucks.

Trucks are inherently dangerous because of the sheer size and speed at which they travel on highways. Inclement weather, including snow, ice, sleet, rain, and fog, can amplify the likelihood of an accident. Although many truck drivers and trucking companies will blame Mother Nature for the accident, almost every accident involves some form of human error. Unlike many other motorists, truck drivers do not always have the option of remaining off the road during severe weather episodes. As such, those on the road during a severe weather event are more likely to encounter a truck.

Federal regulations require that truck drivers modify their driving habits and exercise caution when operating their large vehicles during inclement weather. While these rules are designed to protect both the driver and others, truck drivers often overestimate the level of control they have over their vehicles. Moreover, these drivers tend to have strict delivery deadlines, only furthering the likelihood of a serious and deadly accident.

In March 2019, a fatal Maryland truck accident killed a 65-year-old man and a 7-year-old boy in Hanford County, Maryland. According to the Baltimore Sun, around 7 AM one morning a tractor-trailer truck was traveling south on Route 24 in Bel Air when it crashed through a line of traffic that was stopped at a red light at the intersection with Ring Factory Road. The truck then burst into flames as it came to rest. The crash caused a pinball effect, sending cars into each other, creating some awful wreckage. Many individuals were left with significant injuries. For example, one woman suffered a traumatic brain injury in addition to severing a nerve in her head. And, tragically, the man and the second-grader were killed.

While this Maryland truck accident made serious headlines in 2019, it fell out of the public eye in the ensuing years. But recently, the case was in the news again, as the criminal trial for the truck driver, a 51-year-old man, began. The case highlights the interesting relationship between the criminal and civil law systems in Maryland. When someone drives negligently, or recklessly, and causes the death of others in a serious truck accident such as this one, they may be subject to both criminal and civil liability.

This criminal trial illustrates how one can be held criminally liable. The driver in the case is charged with two counts of gross negligence manslaughter by motor vehicle, two counts of criminal negligence manslaughter by motor vehicle, and four counts of causing serious injury while using a cellphone. Prosecutors are making their case in front of a jury, trying to prove that the defendant was grossly negligent and should be held criminally liable.

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences imaginable. But, unfortunately, many Maryland families find themselves facing this reality each year as the result of a Maryland truck accident. Because of the size of semi-trucks, Maryland truck accidents can have devastating consequences, causing severe bodily injury and even death. Tragically, some individuals may find themselves in an impossibly difficult situation: mourning the death of a loved one while trying to recover physically from injuries suffered in the same accident.

For example, take a recent tragic semi-truck crash. According to a local news report, the crash occurred on Monday afternoon when a woman was driving her two children—a two-year-old daughter and six-month-old son—when she was rear-ended by a semi-truck. Police say the semi-truck driver wrongfully ran through a stoplight and was at fault in the crash. The woman and her daughter were both flown to local hospitals with severe to life-threatening injuries following the crash. Tragically, her two-month-old son did not survive.

The family is now in the devastating situation of mourning their loss while trying to recover themselves. While the mother, fortunately, is doing well, the two-year-old daughter suffered multiple fractures to her skull and had to undergo surgery for a broken femur. She is in stable condition, but injuries of that extent take a long time to heal, and the medical bills can add up quickly. The financial situation can be exacerbated by the funeral and burial costs for the infant, and the lost wages both parents may have incurred by needing to miss work. While the health and safety of those who survived are of course of the utmost importance, the family likely has realized the significant financial toll that truck accidents can cause.

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