Baltimore Personal Injury Update: Commercial Trucking Accidents Don’t Always Result in Charges against the Driver

It’s a bit trite to say that nobody ever expects to get into a traffic accident, but the fact remains that most people who are involved in a car, truck or motorcycle wreck did not see it coming until the last moment. We’ve said it here before, but fate is not particular when it comes to injury accidents. Men, women and children can all be hurt in a roadway crash, whether it’s a single-vehicle accident or a multi-car pileup.

Of course, some of the most deadly wrecks are collisions involving commercial trucks, such as semi tractor-trailers, heavy construction vehicles such as gravel haulers and cement mixers, and even commercial box trucks. All of these motor vehicles are many times more massive than any passenger car on the road today. When a commercial vehicle strikes a family sedan, minivan or SUV, the odds of occupant injury jump significantly.

As Baltimore auto accident attorneys and Maryland personal injury lawyers, our firm has the skills and knowledge to represent victims of traffic collisions caused by negligent individuals. Whether that person is a commercial trucker, a school bus driver, or delivery truck operator, these people are professionals and as such are expected to handle their vehicles correctly and obey all applicable laws and rules of the road.

While most commercial truck drivers are good at what they do, there is a certain number that, from time to time, give the trucking industry a very bad name. Negligent driving, poor vehicle maintenance procedures, illegal overloading of trailers and tampering with vehicle safety equipment are all potential areas that these bad apples are sometimes accused of doing prior to a serious highway crash.

A news article last month got us to thinking accidents caused by bad commercial truck drivers. According to the article, an elderly individual on her way home from an out-of-state vacation was allegedly cut off by a box truck along a stretch of Rte 13 north of Princess Anne, MD.

As a result of the incident, the truck allegedly sideswiped her car, knocking off one of her vehicle’s sideview mirrors. When the truck failed to stop, the driver followed the commercial vehicle along Rte 13, calling Somerset County police for assistance. Sadly, the state troopers who responded to her 911 call, and subsequently stopped the box truck, told the woman that they could not determine who was at fault. Leaving it up the individual insurance companies to duke it out between themselves.

Since no citations were issued by the police to the operator of the box truck, the 70-year-old victim was to say the least frustrated by the whole experience. But this is apparently not unusual for accidents that only involve minor damage. In such cases, if the evidence doesn’t point to one or the other party as negligent, the police will check that both vehicles are insured and leave it to the insurance companies. If either party doesn’t show proper insurance, the police will write a citation for that infraction.

According to the news article, this policy goes a long way toward expediting the reporting process in traffic accidents that result in only minor vehicle damage, especially so when the cars, trucks or motorcycles are blocking traffic flow on the roadway.

For those wondering if there could be any relief for victims of minor side-swipe or fender-bender incidents, the police usually look for some kind of paint transfer to indicate contact between the subject vehicles. Because it’s quite common for commercial truck operators to truly be unaware that they may have caused an accident, it would seem that these glancing or scraping accidents will continue to go mostly unsolved.

However, according to some experts in the field, the majority of insurance companies can figure out who was at fault during their own investigative process. In the above instance, the woman’s insurance company paid for her damages, less the $500 deductible, which should be recoverable if the insurer can determine fault on the part of the truck driver.

These kinds of disputed cases usually wind up in subrogation, which is a process that insurance companies use to try and recoup expenses for a claim paid out earlier when it is determined that the other party was responsible.

Fender benders add up for all involved,, July 10, 2011

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