When most people think of a truck accident, images of a massive semi-truck careening out of control down the highway come to mind. And to be sure, many Maryland truck accidents do occur at high speeds on the highway. However, there is also a significant portion of truck accidents that occur when a truck is stationary and pulled off to the side of the road.

Dump TruckIn most cases, when a semi-truck has been pulled off the road, it is due either to a mechanical problem or the driver’s decision to pull over and get some rest. Indeed, truck drivers should pull over when they are tired to prevent the possibility of causing an accident. However, Maryland truck drivers have a duty to ensure that when they pull off the road, they are doing so in a safe manner and are not blocking the free flow of traffic. For example, truck drivers should always place warning cones or triangles along the road’s shoulder, providing notice of the truck to approaching drivers.

It is also common to see a stationary semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle that has been partially pulled off the road but is still blocking part of the lane nearest the shoulder. This puts motorists at an increased risk of being involved in an accident because even the most attentive motorist may find themselves without enough room to safely get by.

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Chances are, anyone who has spent much time driving has ended up stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, empty gas tank, or some other mechanical problem. Not only is this an incredibly frustrating experience, but it is also a very dangerous one.

Big RigWhile the number of accidents involving one or more stationary vehicles on the side of the road is small, these accidents represent a disproportionate number of the fatal Maryland car accidents reported each year. This is due to several reasons, but primarily these accidents are so serious because they involve one vehicle – often a semi-truck – traveling at very high speeds.

Truck drivers are often involved in roadside accidents. For one, semi-trucks spend a lot of time on the road. More important, however, is the fact that these trucks are massive, and it only takes a small misjudgment to cause what can turn out to be a serious accident. Additionally, the drivers who operate these large trucks are often doing so for hours on end with little sleep.

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While some Maryland truck accidents involve only the truck and another vehicle, it is not uncommon for an accident to involve several vehicles. This is because most truck accidents happen on the highway, which means these accidents often occur in close quarters and involve fast speeds. Often, inattentive motorists will not have sufficient time to react to avoid a collision and may end up causing a chain-reaction accident.

Semi-Truck TIresIn these multi-vehicle accidents, determining which parties are legally responsible to the victims can be a difficult and complex task. For example, the obvious defendant is the driver who caused the initial accident. Establishing this driver’s liability is no different than if there were only two vehicles involved. However, there may be additional parties that bear responsibility.

If a motorist is traveling too fast for the conditions or is distracted at the time, they may not realize that traffic has slowed in front of them until it is too late. The result is often a chain-reaction accident. In these situations, the speeding or distracted motorist may also be named as a defendant.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia wrongful death case arising out of a fatal workplace accident. The court was tasked with determining whether the plaintiff’s product liability case against the manufacturer was sufficient as a matter of law. Finding that it was not, the court reversed the award that had been issued in favor of the plaintiff.

ForkliftThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the estate of a factory worker who was killed while using a loading truck manufactured by the defendant. During a busy shift, the employee’s supervisor asked him to operate the lift truck, although the employee had not been certified to do so. The employee was loading bales of paper out of a trailer when the truck got stuck on the inclined ramp into the trailer.

With the assistance of a colleague, the employee engaged the parking brake, got out of the truck, and attached a tow chain to the rear of the truck. However, when the employee was behind the truck, the parking brake failed, and the truck traveled down the inclined ramp, crushing and killing the employee.

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Over the past decade, autonomous vehicles have become a reality. Not just that, but also there are more autonomous cars out on the road each month as more and more manufacturers release autonomous and semi-autonomous models. Of course, autonomous cars present a number of benefits to motorists; however, they also present an equal number of safety risks.

Dark RoadNot only do autonomous vehicles present safety risks, but they also present myriad legal issues that have been unanticipated until now. Thus, courts are going to be required to come up with ad hoc rules to govern the determination of liability in Maryland truck accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous Truck Kills Pedestrian

Earlier this month, a woman was killed as she crossed the road in front of a driverless truck that was operated by the ride-share company Uber. According to a recent news report, the truck was traveling at approximately 38 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, when the woman suddenly came out of the shadows and into the path of the truck.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a truck accident case raising an interesting issue that occasionally comes up in Maryland truck accident cases. Specifically, the court had to discuss whether it was an error for the lower court to refuse to instruct the jury on the plaintiff’s duty to mitigate damages. Ultimately, the court concluded that the trial court was acting within its discretion when it refused to give the requested jury instruction.

Truck on FireThe Facts of the Case

A truck driver was involved in an accident when he rear-ended another truck that was traveling 15-18 miles per hour on the highway. After the collision, the man’s truck caught on fire. The man’s son happened to be passing by and recognized his father’s truck. The son attempted to rescue his father but was unable to do so. He was seriously burned as a result of his rescue efforts.

Later, the son told other members of his family about his father’s death. As may be suspected, the deceased driver’s wife suffered serious emotional distress as a result of hearing the news and had to be hospitalized. She was unable to return to work due to the severity of her depression.

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While the majority of Maryland truck accidents are results of driver error, a significant portion of truck accidents are caused by faulty equipment. Indeed, according to recent government statistics, the single most common cause of truck accidents is brake failure, which accounts for approximately 15,000 truck accidents each year. The second most common equipment error is tire-related issues, which are responsible for about 3,000 accidents per year.

Truck WheelsTruck drivers, like other motorists, are responsible to maintain their vehicles. This includes making sure that all critical systems are in good working condition before heading out on the road. Truck drivers must also take care to ensure that their cargo loads are safely packed to avoid cargo shift, which is another leading cause of truck accidents.

When a truck driver fails to take the necessary precautions, and an equipment failure causes an accident, the truck driver may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of the equipment failure. In some cases, the trucking company that owns the truck or employs the driver may also be held liable.

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Earlier this week, an accident involving two semi-trucks, two buses, and several passenger cars sent 29 people to the hospital, several with serious injuries. According to a local news report, the collision occurred in the evening hours during a time when roads were slick due to the recent snowfall.

Snowy RoadGiven the magnitude of the accident, authorities have yet to determine exactly what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. Witnesses told reporters that the two semi-trucks involved in the accident were traveling at a high rate of speed, which resulted in the trucks being unable to stop in time to avoid the collision. Once the trucks crashed into the buses, other motorists nearby got involved in a chain-reaction accident, similar to many Maryland bus accidents that we have seen.

One of the buses was pushed off to the side of the road, where it teetered on the edge of an embankment. Those on board were told not to move until it was safe to do so. Accident reconstructionists surveyed the scene and its aftermath, and the accident is still under official investigation.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that arose after the plaintiffs were involved in a serious accident involving a large piece of construction equipment that was left near the highway. The case is important to Maryland truck accident victims because it shows the type of analysis courts conduct when a government defendant claims official immunity.

Construction EquipmentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were involved in an accident with a parked construction vehicle while traveling on the highway. At the time, they were traveling at approximately 35 miles per hour, and the road and weather were clear. Suddenly, the plaintiff driving the vehicle saw a “blur” and tried to avoid what ended up being a construction vehicle. The plaintiff was unable to avoid the vehicle, and the plaintiffs were injured as a result.

The construction team was working to fix a leaking pipe under the road’s surface. The team used a track hoe to break the asphalt and dig down to the pipe. The dirt that was removed from the hole was placed on the roadway. The team parked the excavating vehicle on the roadway but behind the dirt pile. No warning signs were placed in advance of the dirt pile.

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Equipment failure is a major cause of Maryland truck accidents. Earlier this month, an accident between a dump truck and several other vehicles sent seven people to the hospital – three in critical condition. According to a local news report covering the accident, the collision occurred in the morning hours as the truck was hauling burn debris away from a recent wildfire.

Dump TruckEvidently, the dump truck was traveling downhill when it failed to stop at a red light at the bottom of the hill. The dump truck collided with a total of 10 vehicles as it careened through the intersection. Seven of the 10 vehicles caught fire, requiring a total of seven motorists to be taken to the hospital. Of the accident victims, three were admitted in critical condition.

The dump truck driver remained on the scene and has cooperated with police. When asked, the driver told police that he tried to apply the brakes, but the truck would not stop or even slow down. However, police have yet to label the cause of the accident as equipment failure and are conducting an in-depth investigation.

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