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.

When most people think about Maryland truck accidents, they picture semi-trucks on highways, getting into crashes with cars or other vehicles on the road. While these types of crashes do occur with some frequency, it is important to remember they are not the only type of Maryland truck accident to be on the lookout for. Sometimes truck accidents can happen where you least expect them to—like in a quiet neighborhood.

For example, take a recent close call with a garbage truck, as it drove through a Florida neighborhood. According to a recent news report, a 7-year-old boy was playing in his grandmother’s yard when he decided to hide inside of her garbage can. Moments later, the garbage truck arrived, and the garbage can was picked up and the boy was tossed into the bed of the truck with the collected trash. The boy would have been killed had it not been for the quick thinking of the driver, who has been working as a sanitation worker for 11 years and spotted the boy immediately falling into the truck via his camera. He said that he and other drivers in the county are trained to look at the cameras to avoid incidents, because there are so many blind spots while driving a garbage truck. As soon as he saw what happened, he quickly stopped the truck and rescued the boy, making sure he was not crushed. After the boy was safely out, he told the local news station that he was scared when the can was picked up—“I think I was most scared about me turning into apple sauce or fruit punch.”

Fortunately, this near-fatal accident was only a close call, and no one was actually hurt or injured. But the incident highlights how Maryland truck accidents can happen almost anywhere, and when people least expect them. No one really expects that the garbage truck coming through the neighborhood could lead to the tragic death of a child, but unfortunately it is possible. While Maryland residents should always make sure that their children do not climb into their garbage cans—especially on trash pickup day—there may be other unexpected truck accidents that they are unable to avoid. In those unfortunate circumstances, nothing can undo the damage that has been done. However, state law does allow those injured—or those who lose a loved one—to file a personal injury suit to recover monetarily. While this is obviously no substitute for avoiding an accident in the first place, the lawsuits can at least help families financially while they recover.

Truck accidents happen every week all across the country, including many accidents in Maryland. These accidents vary in severity—some may be minor, leaving drivers with minor injuries, if any at all. Others may be more serious, leading to severe bodily injury or even death. Every so often, a particularly horrendous truck accident makes national headlines. Just this month, one of those accidents occurred on the highway in Southern California. The New York Times reported on this devastating accident, which was responsible for at least thirteen deaths.

According to the New York Times’ coverage, the accident occurred early one Tuesday morning. The crash was shocking. According to officials, a Ford Expedition S.U.V. was driving along the highway, traveling west, with twenty-five people packed inside of it. The S.U.V. pulled in front of a tractor-trailer, headed north, in an intersection, causing a collision that led to the S.U.V. almost wrapped around the front of the truck. By the time emergency crews arrived at the scene, twelve people were already dead. Some had been ejected from the S.U.V. due to the force of the collision and were on the pavement. Others were inside the vehicle. Several people were taken to the hospital with injuries, and one later died. The victims from the crash ranged in age from 20 to 55. Officials still are not sure what exactly caused the crash, or why the S.U.V. pulled in front of the truck. They are also concerned about how many people were inside the S.U.V., which has a maximum legal capacity of seven or eight.

This accident shows how just one reckless action—in this case, pulling in front of another vehicle in an intersection—can have devastating consequences. Over a dozen people lost their lives, presumably because of one driver’s actions. Accidents like this are on the severe end of the range of Maryland truck accidents that occur each year, but still raise awareness of how devastating the actions can be. Each Maryland resident should remember that when they are injured in a truck accident, big or small, the state’s law allows them to file a personal injury lawsuit against whoever was responsible. These lawsuits can result in significant monetary damages awarded to crash victims, to compensate them for their pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and more. In fatal crashes like the one above, families may be able to recover that on behalf of their deceased love ones. These lawsuits cannot undo the damage done in Maryland truck accidents, but they can provide families with monetary compensation to assist them in their recovery.

Maryland truck accidents are often caused by some mistake a driver makes on the road. Perhaps they are drowsy, struggling to focus and stay awake while driving, causing them to veer off to the side. Or maybe they are distracted, texting or watching videos on their phone while driving. Others may just be careless, not watching the road carefully and failing to stop when traffic slows down or they near a red light. These types of truck accidents are caused by some actions a driver took while driving, and in these situations, it is fairly easy to know who was at fault and caused the accident. However, there are some situations where the cause of the accident is actually something that happened before the vehicle even got onto the road. In fact, the driver may have been driving safely when the accident occurred. In these cases, injured accident victims might find it harder to figure out what happened and prove fault.

Take, for example, a recent accident reported by a local news station. In late February, a semi-tractor trailer was traveling eastbound on I-70 in the outside lane when the load the truck was carrying broke free, causing large metal pipes to go over the concrete barrier into the westbound lanes. This caused a series of chain events and crashes, involving seven vehicles and leading to one tragic death. One of the metal pipes hit the window and rear of a 2014 Expedition. Afterward, they bounced off that vehicle and landed on top of a 2020 Kia Forte. A Ford pickup truck behind the Kia Forte was unable to stop in time and ended up then hitting the rear of the car. The Kia Forte then spun and hit the outside concrete bridge rail. The driver of that vehicle, a 29-year-old woman, was unfortunately killed. But the damage was not done. Another three vehicles—a 1996 Chevy pickup truck, a 2008 Toyota Camry, and a 2019 semi-tractor trailer—all ended up hitting the metal pipes. In total, 15 individuals and seven vehicles were involved in this major accident.

This tragic example illustrates how actions—or the lack of actions—before a truck even starts driving could cause serious Maryland truck accidents. While it’s not currently known why exactly the load broke free, similar accidents have been caused by negligent product design, negligent upkeep, and negligence in safety checks. Any one of those things could have been the cause of the crash, the resulting injuries, and the tragic death. It is important for Maryland families to remember that even though those negligent actions happened before the truck was on the road, they can still be the basis of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits can provide significant monetary compensation to those injured in Maryland truck accidents.

Maryland truck accidents are almost always unexpected and shocking. An individual driving along the road or highway may be listening to music or an audiobook, talking with others in the car, or thinking about their day ahead when suddenly they are involved in a crash. The immediate aftermath can be disorienting, and individuals involved in these accidents who are not injured in some obvious way—broken bones, bleeding, etc.—may think that they are fine and simply move on with their day, wanting to get back to normal after such a shock.

For example, take a recent large-scale truck accident that occurred in West Virginia on Interstate 81 near the Maryland line. According to a recent report, the wreck occurred just before 8 PM one evening. That night, a 911 supervisor said that 10 to 15 tractor-trailers might have been involved, but that police were having a difficult time determining how many specifically because the scene of the crash was such a mess. Other vehicles continued to slide into the wreckage even after the initial collisions. The next morning, a sheriff reported that they now believed the wreck involved eight tractor-trailers and three passenger vehicles. While officials do not yet know what happened, they did confirm that icy weather was a major contributing factor. The wreckage was so large that the northbound lanes of the interstate were closed for about six hours. The accident currently remains under investigation.

Surprisingly, only one person was transported to the hospital with injuries after this major crash, although at least eleven vehicles were involved. But it’s quite possible that many of those involved may actually be injured and not know it yet. Oftentimes, after Maryland truck accidents, individuals may think in the immediate aftermath that they are fine, but then begin to feel pain from injuries days or even weeks later. They may begin to feel soreness in their neck or back, or find they even need chiropractic help to manage their pain a month after the accident. While individuals in this situation may think they were “uninjured” by the crash, the reality is they have just as much of a claim to recovery in a personal injury lawsuit as those taken to the hospital. Maryland state law allows all who are injured in these accidents to file suit, even if the injuries were discovered weeks or even months later. Of course, an individual realizing belatedly that they were injured should speak with a Maryland truck accident attorney as soon as possible, to ensure that they file within the relevant time limit for these suits.

Like any other driver, when a Maryland truck driver hits the road, they are expected to drive carefully, or to exercise “reasonable care.” The standard of reasonable care extends even to emergency situations. This means that when a truck driver encounters an emergency on the road, such as a Maryland truck accident, the truck driver must still exercise reasonable care. However, this standard considers the circumstances the driver is presented with and the amount of time the driver has to react.

In a Maryland accident case, a plaintiff has to show that a defendant failed to meet the standard of care. In Maryland, if a truck driver suddenly finds himself in a dangerous situation, the driver is not expected to exercise the same degree of care as a driver who has sufficient time to evaluate his or her options and decide what to do. But the driver is expected to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety and for the safety of others. This doctrine is known as the sudden emergency doctrine. However, the truck driver cannot benefit from the doctrine if the driver is the one who caused the emergency or if the driver is not actually in a dangerous situation. So, if a truck driver damages another person or property in an emergency situation, the question is, when the truck driver was presented with the emergency, did the truck driver exercise the degree of care that a reasonable, prudent person would, given the circumstances? A jury or a judge will also take into consideration the amount of time the driver had to react and evaluate the choices. Failing to take reasonable care under the circumstances may make the driver liable for resulting damages.

Six People Killed in Crash Involving Over 100 Vehicles

One of the best things about traveling via train or bus is having someone else drive and operate the vehicle while the passengers relax, read, sleep, or even get some work done. For this reason, many Maryland residents may rely on these modes of transportation weekly or even daily, to travel within and outside of the state or to get to work. But while the flexibility and ease of these forms of transportation are nice, passengers should remember that there is still the risk of a Maryland traffic accident. And when a bus or a train hits a truck, the accident can be catastrophic and maybe even fatal.

For example, take a recent truck accident involving an Amtrak train. According to a news report covering the crash, the accident happened around 4:30 PM one afternoon when a truck stopped inexplicably on the train tracks. Amtrak crew members aboard the train told investigators that as the train approached the truck, they blew the horn several times. The train was traveling at high speed, and unable to stop, so it hit the truck, causing a significant crash. The driver of the truck was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing, and at this point, it is not clear why the truck driver did not move off of the tracks to avoid getting hit by the train.

It’s not clear from the news report how many others were injured, but in such a serious crash, there is clear potential to cause harm to the train passengers as well as the truck driver. Injured passengers in situations such as this one—in which the train or bus they are riding crashes into a truck—may not think that they have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit and may believe that the train or bus company is the one to handle that. But Maryland state law makes clear that anyone injured in Maryland truck accidents can file a personal injury lawsuit to try and recover for their accidents.

As winter weather descends upon Maryland, residents can expect to see more and more weather-related accidents. Some of these accidents involve snow plows. Just this week, Maryland and the entire Northeast received many inches of snow, leading to a need for plows to clear roads and walkways. But, like any time one operates a vehicle, there is always a risk of an a Maryland accident when using snowplows.

For example, just last week, a nurse was killed in a snow plow accident at a hospital. According to a local news report covering the tragedy, the nurse walked up behind a vehicle plowing snow as the operator of the vehicle was backing up. The nurse was struck and ultimately died from the crash. This tragic story is just one example of how snow plowing may lead to increased accidents, yet another concern of wintery weather accidents in Maryland.

Although snow plow accidents may seem like a somewhat unique occurrence, those injured in such an accident can file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party in just the same way that those injured in more typical Maryland truck or bus accidents can. These personal injury lawsuits can provide important financial recovery for the injured and/or their families, allowing them to pay off medical bills or deal with lost wages without fear of bankruptcy.

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