When it comes to determining who can bring a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the person or people they believe to be responsible for their injuries, Maryland has one of the strictest laws in the nation. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff who is found even to be at all at fault for causing the accident that resulted in their injuries will be precluded from recovering compensation for their injuries.

Railroad TracksThe alternative, used by most states, is called comparative fault. Under the comparative fault analysis, a plaintiff who is partially at fault can still recover for their injuries; however, their recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. A recent case illustrates how a case may turn out very differently in a state that applies comparative fault versus one that applies contributory negligence.

A Woman’s Husband Is Killed by a Fast-Moving Train

The plaintiff in the case was the surviving spouse of a man who was killed when his truck was crushed by a train at an intersection. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff alleged that the railway was negligent in failing to trim the foliage surrounding the intersection, which obscured motorists’ vision and prevented them from seeing whether a train was coming. The plaintiff also claimed that the employees of the railway were negligent because, from their higher vantage point, they should have seen her husband’s truck at the intersection.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an interesting car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff was entitled to compensation for his medical expenses that were incurred though an out-of-network provider. Ultimately, the court held that an accident victim has the right to choose where to obtain treatment, even if he is insured and chooses an out-of-network provider.

LabcoatThe defendant’s argument that the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages did not convince the court, and the defendant insurance company was on the hook for the sum of the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Although the case arose in another state, the case is important for Maryland truck accident victims because it paves the way for similar arguments to be made in Maryland courts.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seriously injured when another driver struck him while he was changing a flat tire on his motorhome on the side of the road. Initially, the plaintiff obtained medical treatment through a medical care provider that was covered by his insurance. However, after filing a personal injury case, the plaintiff then switched his medical care provider to one that was not covered by his insurance policy.

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Maryland truck accidents are more common than most people believe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Transportation Safety Board (NHTSB) conduct periodic studies that analyze the cause and number of accidents occurring in each state in a given year. Both entities report on which type of vehicle is most likely to be involved in an accident and what the resulting damages are. The studies are periodically released as they are conducted.

Semi TrucksThe most recent report compiled data from 2016 and was published in May 2018. Some startling key findings were that despite stricter standards and more extensive training, truck accidents have been increasing since 2015. In fact, there has been a 5.4 percent increase in individuals killed in large truck accidents from the last study.

For the purposes of the study, a large truck includes any medium or heavy truck, not including buses or motor homes. The gross weight of the vehicles in this study was over 10,000 pounds. On average, dump trucks can carry over 30,000 pounds.

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Maryland has some of the most highly trafficked highways on the East Coast, due to its proximity to several major cities. The likelihood of an accident on a Maryland highway is an unfortunate risk for those traveling through Maryland. Regardless of whether a person is involved in a small fender-bender or a more serious Maryland truck accident, it is important that drivers are aware of their rights and remedies.

Semi-TruckWhile it may be tempting to avoid calling law enforcement after a minor accident, it is very important that motorists report their accident. In some instances, it may be advisable to report it to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration as well.

A person who suffers an injury or property damage will likely report their accident to their insurance company, but that may not actually cover all of their damages. In these instances, a person should consider contacting a Maryland personal injury attorney and filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries. In most personal injury cases, a person has to file their claim within three years, but there are some exceptions that would require a claim to be filed earlier.

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The chances are that anyone who has spent much time driving on Maryland’s highways has seen the remnants of an improperly secured load of cargo lying on the side of the highway. Often, a driver may not notice that they have lost part of their load, or the driver may make the conscious decision to keep on moving to avoid the hazard and potential liability from trying to remove the spilled cargo from the highway.

Cement PipesWhatever the cause may be, spilled cargo can easily result in a serious Maryland traffic accident. Indeed, the American Automobile Association estimates that there are over 200,000 accidents each year caused by road debris, including approximately 500 fatalities. This figure includes accidents that are caused by the ubiquitous remains of shredded tires resulting from semi-truck tire blowouts.

Most of the time, spilled cargo falls from vehicles with open-air beds, such as pick-up trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, and garbage trucks. But on occasion, a semi-truck driver fails to properly secure the rear doors, and cargo can spill out the back of the truck. In any event, a driver who fails to properly secure their load can be held liable for any injuries caused as a result of the spillage. A truck driver may also be liable if the remnants from their shredded tire cause an accident, but locating the owner of such remnants often proves to be difficult.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case discussing the admissibility of certain evidence presented by the defense. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was properly excluded and affirmed the $1.2 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case is important for Maryland public transit accident victims because it illustrates the importance of expert testimony, as well as the importance of keeping potentially harmful evidence out of the jury’s consideration.

Bus WindowThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a public transportation vehicle. Although the damage to each vehicle was minor, the plaintiff suffered lingering injuries as a result, including bulging discs.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the transportation authority, arguing that the negligence of the driver caused his injuries. In its defense, the transportation authority presented the testimony of an expert witness who planned on testifying regarding the “severity of the impact.” Evidently, the expert’s area of study involved the forces that are present in car accidents and how those forces relate to commonly experienced forces someone may experience in everyday life. The expert was not to present any medical evidence or opinion.

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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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