Baltimore Trucking Injury Update: Maryland Truck Owners Have a Responsibility to Not Employ Negligent Drivers

Considering the damage and injury that can occur as a result of a traffic collision between a semi tractor-trailer rig and a much smaller family minivan, sport utility vehicle or economy car, it’s very important that the individuals who operate these behemoths be properly trained and licensed.

Without a doubt, commercial trucks are everywhere one looks in Baltimore, Rockville, Gaithersburg and Washington, D.C. As an important part of this nation’s flow of commerce, large trucks are a necessary evil, to put it bluntly. Of course, most truckers are careful professionals who take their jobs quite seriously. However, as with any industry, there are bad apples in the bunch.

With all these vehicles — 18-wheelers, contractor vehicles, box trucks and delivery vans — there is always the potential for a trucking-related traffic accident no matter where you are. Pedestrians and bicycle riders are also not immune to the dangers presented by thoughtless or inattentive truck drivers, especially in busy urban areas where bike, foot vehicle traffic share the same roads.

Being involved in a serious car accidents and truck collisions can be frightening enough, but once injured due to a commercial trucking accident, one must usually face the task of both physical and financial recovery. Sad to say, obtaining justice following a truck accident in Maryland may be difficult. Because they are usually associated with large businesses, commercial truck carriers usually have extensive legal resources that help them to avoid large payouts.

As mentioned, there are always some bad drivers out there, but it is important to remember that Maryland trucking firms can be held liable for employing negligent truckers who cause a serious roadway injury accident or fatal trucking collision. In these types of situations, as Maryland personal injury lawyers, it is our job to represent the victims or the victim’s families in order to gain some compensation for their loss.

The insurance companies that represent trucking firms typically try very hard to limit how much they will pay for any insurance claim. It’s not uncommon for the victims of such highway wrecks to actually be accused by the insurance company of causing the accident.

Regardless, the victims of a Maryland traffic accident involving a commercial vehicle are legally allowed to seek monetary damages from a negligent trucker’s employer based on a theory of law known as “negligent entrustment.” This legal theory empowers auto accident attorneys to pursue a couple important objectives for their clients. First, it provides a method of recovery even though the truck driver himself may have insufficient insurance coverage or personal assets to meet the possible monetary award. Secondly, this approach provides the mean by which plaintiffs (such as a victim’s family) to punish a “careless” operator of a trucking company for hiring a driver that put the victims’ lives at risk due to negligent operation of the company’s commercial vehicle.

Under Maryland law, this theory of negligent entrustment is comprised of three specific elements, all of which must be demonstrated to the court during a trial:

1) The plaintiff’s lawyer must show proof that the trucking company’s owner was a legal “supplier” and that he or she made the vehicle available to the negligent driver

2) The victim’s lawyer needs to prove that the supplier/trucking company owner(s) knew, or even should have known truck driver was likely to operate the truck, whether due to poor training or other deficiencies) in a manner that put others at risk of harm (Even if the driver is not found negligent, this point can also apply if the owner allowed the vehicle to be operated with known mechanical defects)

3) The victim’s attorney needs to prove that the injured plaintiff was typical of the kind of individual that the supplier/vehicle owner would reasonably expect to be endangered should he or she employ said negligent trucker

For reference, the Maryland court system defines “supplier” as anyone who has the authority to permit and/or prohibit the use of the truck. If the allegedly negligent trucker’s employer owned the commercial truck involved in the accident, then that owner is considered a legal supplier who then made the vehicle available to the negligent driver.

Furthermore, Maryland courts have ruled in the past that pedestrians, bicyclists and passenger car and truck drivers who are injured though the negligence of a commercial truck driver are, indeed, the types of people that a supplier/trucking company owner would expect to be endangered by a negligent truck driver whom they have under their employ.

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