It’s a sad commentary to say that most people only remember the terrible news stories involving commercial trucking accidents, but the fact remains that bad news sells; good news just isn’t that interesting, apparently. Nevertheless, there are many examples of semi tractor-trailers going out of control, crashing into smaller passenger cars and killing and injuring dozens of people every year in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Of course, for every negligent truck driver out there, certainly there are many more conscientious truckers whose names are never in the newspapers or online. As mentioned above, good news isn’t as compelling as news that covers serious or fatal car, truck and motorcycle accidents. Part of the reason is that an 80,000-pound steel hauler can cause a large amount of damage if its brake system fails or the driver loses control and hits a small sedan, minivan or sport utility vehicle.
Injuries associated with commercial trucking accidents can range from that of minor scrapes, cuts and bruises, to compound fractures, third- and fourth-degree burns and concussions due to head trauma. Occupants of a 3,000-pound minivan are more prone to injury when the vehicle that hits them is a 25-plus-ton long-haul 18-wheeler with a load of heavy machinery sitting on the trailer.
As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues understand that circumstances can place an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time, turning an individual into a victim of a negligent driver in an instant. Car and truck passengers have been know to be injured or killed as a result of a highway or interstate roadway collision between a car and a large commercial truck; and we aren’t even going to touch on the potentially deadly bicycle and pedestrian accidents involving commercial delivery trucks that occur in our urban centers.
Just last month, testimony was being given by witnesses to a bizarre three-state police chase involving a trucker who, admittedly, was reportedly driving under the influence of methamphetamines and what court records described as “bath salts” — otherwise known as synthetic stimulants. The defense attorney for the 43-year-old out-of-state trucker stated that his client could not recall any details about the interstate police chase, and that he never intended to hurt anyone.
This is in stark contrast to the events of that day, which according to reports involved the driver nearly running over a patrolman along a stretch of Interstate 81 on December 20, 2010. Court records show that police began to pursue the trucker a little after 8am that day following a 911 call reporting a reckless driver behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.
By the time the chase reached Maryland, police were able to slow the suspect’s vehicle down using so-called Stop Sticks (tire-puncturing devices that must be placed on the road in front of vehicles being chased by a patrol car. On officer from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office testified in court that he was nearly hit by the fleeing vehicle. “…this tractor-trailer made a hard right turn and started coming towards me.” I dropped the sticks, and I ran,” exclaimed the officer from the witness stand.
A female motorist from Hagerstown was one of the individuals whose vehicle was struck by the 18-wheeler while moving along I-81. “I didn’t think I was going to make it,” said the woman. Another victim explained that she saw the semi barreling down on her and thought her vehicle would be sandwiched between the truck and the vehicle in front of her. “After it hit me, I went spinning,” said the witness and victim.
Officers testify drugged driver steered tractor-trailer toward police during I-81 chase, Herald-Mail.com, December 8, 2011