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.

Everyone who has ever driven on a highway in Maryland knows that the cars there share the road with many different trucks and buses. Maryland highways are common along the routes for truck drivers, which unfortunately means that they see more than their fair share of Maryland truck accidents. While most people who think about Maryland truck accidents think about semi-trucks driven by experienced truck drivers, an accident may be even more likely when an individual who does not usually drive a truck rents and drives one while they are moving, for example.

For example, take a recent crash that occurred earlier this month. As reported by a local news organization, a large moving truck attempted to make a U-turn when it got stuck. The driver hit the gas in an attempt to get the truck unstuck but unfortunately lost control of the vehicle. The moving truck struck two cars and was on its way to collide with a pickup truck when, fortunately, the man on the back of the pickup truck saw the truck coming and jumped out of the way with moments to spare. He saw the moving truck hit his pickup truck and was grateful that he avoided what would have likely been a fatal crash. Fortunately, no one was killed in this accident.

This truck accident illustrates the risks posed by moving trucks or other rental trucks. While truck accidents are already far too common in Maryland, most truck drivers have years of experience driving large vehicles and understand how to operate something that size on the road. In contrast, individuals driving rental moving trucks may have extremely limited experience driving large vehicles and may find themselves unable to control the vehicle, to successfully make a U-turn or something else of that sort. Unfortunately, this may make them a risk to other drivers on the highways.

Almost everyone learns about the dangers of rear-end accidents while learning to drive. Following another vehicle too closely while driving can lead quickly to a crash if the front vehicle has to brake or slow down for any reason. Depending on the speed of the vehicles, these rear-ending accidents can be serious, perhaps even fatal, or nothing more than a “fender-bender.” When the accidents involve a bus or truck—very large vehicles—the damage might be worse due to their size or the number of people on board. In fact, Maryland rear-end accidents involving buses or trucks can, and often do, lead to serious harm.

For example, take a recent school bus accident. According to a local news article, two school buses were involved in a crash late last month, leaving seven students with injuries. Two of the students were even sent to the hospital. The crash occurred when one of the buses rear-ended the other at a stop sign. The incident is still under investigation, and it is not clear exactly how many students were on the buses, but the crash is an example of the risk rear-ending bus or truck accidents pose to Maryland drivers.

However, despite their risks, these types of accidents can actually be one of the easiest to recover from financially. Almost all Maryland bus and truck accidents happen in an instant, out of nowhere, and many of them leave those impacted confused about what exactly happened. Individuals often report afterward that the whole thing is a blur—one moment everything was fine and the next moment there had been an accident. The lack of clarity around what happened in these accidents also leads to a lack of clarity about who was at fault, which is often the first thing most people want to know. This can make it difficult for those injured in the accidents to recover financially in a personal injury lawsuit because they do not know who to bring suit against. However, with rear-end accidents, there may be more clarity. Basic rules of the road dictate that drivers should not follow too closely behind other vehicles, in case they suddenly brake or slow down.

Inclement weather can cause significant concerns while driving. This past winter has shown how serious these weather concerns can be, causing all sorts of Maryland truck accidents. Even in winter weather, many truck drivers do not have the option of not driving, and so they will continue along the interstate. But slippery conditions, snowbanks, snowplows, and poor visibility can cause significant concerns.

For example, take a recent day with inclement weather. According to a local news article covering the incident, inclement weather at the time caused serious visibility concerns, and several crashes occurred. One notable crash was a 22-vehicle pile-up that left one individual dead and many others injured. That same day, a semi-truck traveling along the Interstate hit a snowplow, causing it to overturn and roll into a ditch. An eyewitness of this truck accident spoke to reporters afterward, saying that the visibility was low and whiteout conditions caused confusion and crashes. He said, “visibility cut and then all of a sudden I was seeing the semi in front of me” and the crash happened out of nowhere. These crashes demonstrate the danger that driving in wintery weather conditions can pose.

While spring is here and the weather is warming up, meaning drivers can expect summer weather to cause fewer Maryland truck accidents than in the winter months, many Maryland families may still be feeling the impact of a winter truck accident. Unfortunately, the damage caused by these accidents can last weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of the injuries. Individuals who were injured in the wintry conditions of this past winter may still be suffering, recovering from their injuries and paying off intensive medical bills. Individuals in this situation may be struggling to get by and move past the physical and financial damage that was caused. It is important that they know that they can recover through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits, filed against the person responsible for causing the accident, can provide plaintiffs with significant monetary damages to cover lost wages, medical bills, physical therapy costs, pain and suffering, and other costs. These damages, depending on the extent of the harm caused, can be calculated in the thousands or even the millions. Most importantly, the damages allow for plaintiffs to take the first step towards serious recovery and to not fall into debt as the result of an accident someone else caused.

The inherent nature of driving on public roadways involves some element of risk, as motorists, despite their best efforts, cannot always avoid accidents. This is especially true when the accident is the result of another’s negligence. Although accidents range in severity, Maryland truck accidents tend to result in the most catastrophic injuries to drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Amongst the most dangerous vehicles, 18-wheelers, large semi-trucks, and tourist buses pose the biggest threat to those on the road. The likelihood of serious and potentially fatal injuries significantly increases when two of these vehicles collide.

For example, a prominent news source reported a devastating bus and truck crash that took the lives of 21 individuals. Although the accident took place in another country, it illustrates a situation that can happen on any major roadway in Maryland. According to sources, while a bus overturned while trying to pass a truck. The bus slammed into the truck while negotiating a pass. The collision resulted in an explosive fire, and nearly 20 people suffered complete and fatal burns. Among the deceased were the drivers of both vehicles. State officials explained that the road did not have working traffic lights or signs because it was under construction.

In addition to 18-wheelers and large buses, many other vehicles pose a serious danger to other motorists. Many truck accidents involve dump trucks, tanker trucks, livestock carriers, moving vehicles, and garbage trucks. Moreover, with the overwhelming increase in online ordering and demand for prompt delivery, accidents involving mail delivery trucks have been on the rise. Similarly, emergency responder vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances pose a risk to drivers, as they are generally rushing to their destination.

April is distracted driving awareness month—meaning more than ever, drivers should keep their eyes on the road, focus on driving, and put their phones and devices away while on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. Unfortunately, no matter how proactive and alert we are on the road, sometimes others aren’t—and when accidents take place as a result of careless distracted driving and cause injuries, those who are responsible must be held accountable.

According to a recent news report, a local bus crash caused by distracted driving left six students and a bus driver injured. There were 24 students on board when the bus stopped at a railroad track, as required by law, and a utility van rear-ended the bus. The students and driver were transferred to a local hospital following the accident, while the remaining passengers were transported by a separate bus back to school. According to the local sheriff’s office, the driver of the van was cited for failure to use care while driving.

As a Maryland driver, the law requires you to exercise reasonable care while driving your vehicle, but also for you to consider every vehicle within a foreseeable “zone of danger” and to other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers. Drivers are expected to drive at a reasonable speed considering how much traffic is on the road and to adjust their driving based on weather conditions. For example, a driver could potentially be liable for an accident for failing to use due care while driving the speed limit during poor weather conditions.

School bus crashes killed 109 people throughout the country in 2019, according to the National Safety Council, based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA defines a school bus-related crash as any crash that involves a school bus, or another vehicle functioning as a school bus, transporting children to or from school or school-related activities. Most of the fatalities occurred between 7 and 7:59 a.m. and 3 and 3:59 p.m. There are additional crashes that result in non-fatal injuries. Several months ago one student was injured in a Carroll County school bus crash.

Most states, including Maryland, do not currently require seat belts on large school buses. Only eight states—New York, New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Nevada, and California—require them. The NHTSA requires seat belts for smaller school buses but until recently, had not provided a recommendation for larger buses. The agency has contended that children are protected by the school bus’s design in a crash. In 2018, the agency recommended that all new large school buses be equipped with both lap and shoulder seat belts. Other states have introduced legislation seeking to make seat belts mandatory. Some states have been dissuaded from requiring seat belts because of the high cost of doing so.

If there is a school bus involved in a Maryland traffic accident, there may be additional barriers to suing a school bus driver or the school district. Claims made against a public school district require that the claimant first provide notice of the claim to the municipality or the state, depending on the case, within a certain time period after the injury. The notice must advise the defendant of the facts serving as the basis for the complaint and the specific damages alleged. In addition, a school district may raise the defense of immunity. Immunity limits the ability of people to sue state and local governments in court. Generally, Maryland law protects school districts and their employees from being sued unless they are carrying out certain duties.

All Maryland vehicles are required to have insurance to protect drivers when they are involved in an accident. Despite this requirement, many Maryland drivers may find themselves in a sticky situation one day when they are hit by uninsured motorists. In fact, many drivers are surprised to find out how that many others are driving on the roads without insurance. That is where uninsured motorist coverage comes in, also commonly referred to as UIM coverage or insurance. This type of insurance protects those who get into Maryland truck or bus crashes with drivers without insurance to cover the damage.

Sometimes, getting UIM insurance to cover an accident is straightforward, and car insurance companies cooperate. But other times, the situation can be more complicated. For example, in some situations the insurance company might deny coverage, claiming that the policy does not apply to the accident in question for some reason. In these cases, an injured motorist may need to file a civil lawsuit against their insurance company to get the coverage they are entitled to. Of course, these lawsuits can be complicated, especially when going up against insurance companies’ large legal teams.

In other cases, there may be instances of insurance fraud. For instance, recently a bus accident led to charges of insurance fraud when a school bus transportation company presented fraudulent and falsified insurance cards. An investigation into the company found multiple instances of fraudulent insurance cards and led to the arrest of two people involved. While more details are still unraveling about this specific case, the case highlights the problem of insurance fraud which may complicate and prolong a Maryland driver’s recovery after an accident with an uninsured motorist.

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