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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Any motorist who has driven for any length of time on a dirt road knows the potential dangers involved with doing so. Indeed, dirt roads can pose a major hazard to motorists who find themselves needing to use them. Many dirt roads are bumpy and rough and are little more than dusty paths. The dangers of dirt roads are increased when the road is one that is commonly used by large trucks.

Country RoadIn most cases, dirt roads are on private land, and depending on the circumstances, the owner of the road may be responsible for maintaining the road. Landowners owe a general duty of care to maintain their property in a safe manner. Of course, landowners cannot know of all hazards on their property, so generally landowners only are required to address known issues. However, the condition of a dirt road may be exactly the type of hazard that a landowner should address, especially when the condition of the road is suspect.

When a landowner fails to address a known hazard, and someone is injured as a result, the injured party may be able to bring a Maryland premises liability lawsuit against the landowner, seeking compensation for their injuries.

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Whether it be a police car issuing a citation to a motorist or an ambulance responding to the scene of an accident, emergency vehicles are frequently seen on the side of Maryland highways. While these emergency vehicles necessarily must park on the side of the highway for a number of reasons, the reality is that while a vehicle is parked on the side of the highway, the chance of causing a Maryland car accident increases.

Fire TruckOperators of emergency vehicles should follow certain precautions when leaving their vehicles on the side of the highway. For example, emergency vehicles should be pulled as far off the highway as possible to avoid obstructing traffic. When traffic must be obstructed, the operator of the vehicle should make sure that the vehicle’s emergency lights are activated to ensure that passing motorists take notice of the vehicle’s presence. Additionally, traffic should not be obstructed in a manner that leaves approaching motorists with insufficient time to come to a complete stop, such as around a curve or immediately after the top of a hill.

While state and local governments enjoy immunity in some Maryland car accidents, if a government employee acts negligently while carrying out a job-related task, immunity may not attach.

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While there are many causes of Maryland truck accidents, most truck accidents are caused by intoxicated, distracted, or sleepy drivers. Intoxication is such a problem among truck drivers that many states have implemented stricter blood-alcohol content allowances for all commercial drivers. For example, commercial drivers are not permitted to have a blood-alcohol content of .04 or greater, while other motorists are limited at a .08 blood-alcohol content.

Truck on HighwayAlcohol intoxication is certainly responsible for a large share of the total number of truck accidents involving intoxication. However, the use of illegal drugs seems to be increasing among truck drivers over the past few years. In part, this is due to the pressures inherent in the long-haul trucking profession, which places an emphasis on getting cargo to the final destination as quickly as possible. This pressure leads some drivers to take illegal drugs in an effort to stay awake longer and travel more miles per day. Of course, illegal drugs are not without their side effects. Too often, drivers who take stimulants to stay awake find themselves drifting off as the drugs wear off.

Truck Driver Faces Felony Charges for Intoxicated Driving

Earlier this month, two people were seriously injured when the vehicle in which they were traveling was struck by a truck driver who had drifted out of his lane and into oncoming traffic. According to a local news source covering the accident, it was around 4 p.m. as the truck driver was en route to his final destination when he inexplicably crossed over the center line and into oncoming traffic.

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One of the most common causes of rear-end accidents on Maryland highways is when an unaware driver encounters slowed traffic. Most drivers assume that when they are traveling on the highway during non-rush hour times that traffic will continue to move at a quick and reliable pace. However, whether due to road construction or an unrelated accident, traffic patterns are unpredictable and can slow down at any given moment.

Passenger BusWhile an unexpected slowdown can catch any motorist off guard, distracted or sleepy drivers are especially at risk for causing an accident in these conditions, due to their lack of awareness.

German Bus Accident Claims 18 Lives, Dozens of Others Injured

Earlier this month in Bavaria, Germany, 18 people were killed and many others seriously injured when a bus rear-ended a truck that had slowed down for upcoming traffic in an early morning accident. According to a national news source covering the tragic accident, the bus was carrying 48 people, mostly seniors, at the time of the accident.

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