Traffic Laws May Bridge the Gap to Proving Legal Liability in Accidents with No Discernible Cause

A destructive accident late last month involving a farm tractor and a dump truck can be analyzed to demonstrate how accident plaintiffs may be able to make a case for damages after an accident that cannot be fully explained. According to a local news report, the semi truck accident occurred on July 27 on an Indiana highway, when a dump truck inexplicably rear-ended a farm tractor that was towing a piece of agricultural equipment on the road. Both the driver of the tractor and the driver of the truck were injured in the crash, and each remained in critical condition at the time of the article’s publication.

Dump TruckThe Loaded Dump Truck Crashes into the Tractor on a Straight Stretch of Road

According to the news report, the county sheriff gave a statement that the truck driver should have had a clear view ahead of him to see the slower-moving tractor, and it is unknown why he was unable to avoid the collision. After the impact, the driver of the tractor was ejected from his vehicle and sustained serious injuries. The driver of the dump truck, which tipped over and dumped its load against a guard rail, was trapped inside his vehicle with serious injuries for over two hours before authorities were able to access the passenger compartment and have the driver airlifted to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Making a Case for Negligence after an Unexplained Accident:  Negligence Per Se

Based on the facts discussed in the news article, the exact cause of the accident is not clear at this time. From the comments of the sheriff’s officer, it appears that lack of visibility was not the cause of the crash. The dump truck driver may have been distracted and failed to see the vehicle in his path, or possibly the full cargo load of heavy rocks that was being carried prevented the dump truck’s brakes from functioning properly. In a rear-end collision in which the exact cause of the accident is not evident, the driver of the vehicle that was hit from behind may be able to collect compensation from the other driver by filing a personal injury lawsuit and demonstrating that the other driver was negligent per se.

Negligence per se is a legal doctrine that can be used to prove a party’s negligence without demonstrating the elements of a standard negligence case. A standard negligence claim requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff,and violated the duty. Additionally, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s violation of the duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. A plaintiff’s claim that a defendant was per se negligent does not require these same elements.

To demonstrate negligence per se, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant violated a criminal statute and caused harm to the plaintiff, and the harm was of the type the statute was designed to prevent. In the case of a rear-end accident, if a plaintiff can demonstrate that the defendant failed to yield the right of way to a slower-moving vehicle in the defendant’s path (a traffic citation), and the plaintiff was injured as a result of the defendant’s violation, the plaintiff may be entitled to damages without proving the elements of a standard negligence claim. Plaintiffs’ use of the negligence per se doctrine can make an accident case less complicated and increase a plaintiff’s chances of relief.

Maryland Laws Applied to Rear-End Accidents

Maryland’s traffic code includes a provision that forbids the driver of a motor vehicle from following another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, taking into consideration the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and roadway conditions. Since this law is enforced as a criminal infraction and was designed to prevent rear-end accidents from occurring, a plaintiff who was rear-ended and can demonstrate the defendant was in violation of the law enjoys a presumption that the defendant was negligent. The defendant may be able to rebut this presumption with other evidence, and damages are not guaranteed for the plaintiff. Maryland rear-end accident victims should consult with a qualified Maryland accident attorney to discuss their case.

Have You Been in a Crash?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a Maryland rear-end collision or another auto accident, the Maryland and Washington, D.C. truck accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can assist you in handling your negligence claim against the other driver. If the cause of the accident was not immediately clear, our skilled Maryland accident lawyers may be able to prove the defendant’s negligence after our investigators take a close look at the details surrounding the crash. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we accept car and truck accident cases in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the entire D.C. area. Call us toll-free at 1-800-654-1949 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Truck Tire Safety Can Reduce Serious Trucking Accidents, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 7, 2016.

Deadly Accidents With Semi Trucks and Commercial Vehicles Are Too Common In Maryland, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 14, 2016.

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