Articles Posted in Legal Concepts in Truck Accident Cases

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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Over the past decade, autonomous vehicles have become a reality. Not just that, but also there are more autonomous cars out on the road each month as more and more manufacturers release autonomous and semi-autonomous models. Of course, autonomous cars present a number of benefits to motorists; however, they also present an equal number of safety risks.

Dark RoadNot only do autonomous vehicles present safety risks, but they also present myriad legal issues that have been unanticipated until now. Thus, courts are going to be required to come up with ad hoc rules to govern the determination of liability in Maryland truck accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous Truck Kills Pedestrian

Earlier this month, a woman was killed as she crossed the road in front of a driverless truck that was operated by the ride-share company Uber. According to a recent news report, the truck was traveling at approximately 38 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, when the woman suddenly came out of the shadows and into the path of the truck.

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While the majority of Maryland truck accidents are results of driver error, a significant portion of truck accidents are caused by faulty equipment. Indeed, according to recent government statistics, the single most common cause of truck accidents is brake failure, which accounts for approximately 15,000 truck accidents each year. The second most common equipment error is tire-related issues, which are responsible for about 3,000 accidents per year.

Truck WheelsTruck drivers, like other motorists, are responsible to maintain their vehicles. This includes making sure that all critical systems are in good working condition before heading out on the road. Truck drivers must also take care to ensure that their cargo loads are safely packed to avoid cargo shift, which is another leading cause of truck accidents.

When a truck driver fails to take the necessary precautions, and an equipment failure causes an accident, the truck driver may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of the equipment failure. In some cases, the trucking company that owns the truck or employs the driver may also be held liable.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that arose after the plaintiffs were involved in a serious accident involving a large piece of construction equipment that was left near the highway. The case is important to Maryland truck accident victims because it shows the type of analysis courts conduct when a government defendant claims official immunity.

Construction EquipmentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were involved in an accident with a parked construction vehicle while traveling on the highway. At the time, they were traveling at approximately 35 miles per hour, and the road and weather were clear. Suddenly, the plaintiff driving the vehicle saw a “blur” and tried to avoid what ended up being a construction vehicle. The plaintiff was unable to avoid the vehicle, and the plaintiffs were injured as a result.

The construction team was working to fix a leaking pipe under the road’s surface. The team used a track hoe to break the asphalt and dig down to the pipe. The dirt that was removed from the hole was placed on the roadway. The team parked the excavating vehicle on the roadway but behind the dirt pile. No warning signs were placed in advance of the dirt pile.

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When filing a Maryland truck accident claim, it is very important to comply with all of the necessary court rules and procedural requirements. A plaintiff’s failure to do so may result in the dismissal of a case that otherwise could have resulted in substantial compensation. In most personal injury cases, once a plaintiff retains counsel, these matters are left to the attorney handling the case. However, courts very rarely will excuse a plaintiff’s non-compliance, even if it was due to attorney error.

Semi-TruckA recent case illustrates the difficulties one accident victim had after he failed to answer the defendant’s motion in a timely manner and also failed to present any evidence establishing that the defendant was negligent.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a truck driver who was transporting cargo that was packed by the defendant corporation. As the plaintiff opened the truck’s rear gate, several boxes that had been packed by the defendant fell on top of him, resulting in serious injuries.

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Many of the large trucks on Maryland roads are operated by state and local government agencies or are working under a government contract of some kind. These include garbage trucks, fire trucks, mail vehicles, and utility vehicles. Like all other truck drivers, those who operate city, county, or state-owned vehicles owe a duty of care to those around them.

Utility TruckNormally, when a driver violates this duty of care by engaging in some kind of negligent act, that driver can be held liable for any injuries that occurred as a result of their negligence through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Indeed, this may also be the case when the operator of the vehicle is a government employee, but issues of government immunity will likely arise.

Historically, governments have been immune from liability stemming from accidents caused by government employees. However, over time, states have enacted laws that “waive” this governmental immunity in some cases. In Maryland, lawmakers passed the Maryland Tort Claims Act, which waives governmental immunity in certain circumstances. Generally, in order for a government employee’s actions to qualify for a waiver of immunity, the allegedly negligent actions must have taken place in the performance of the employee’s duties.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving the enforceability of an arbitration agreement that an employer signed when renting out a U-Haul truck. The case is important for potential Maryland truck accident plaintiffs to understand because it addresses the enforceability of arbitration agreements, which commonly are at issue in many personal injury cases.

Signature LineThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was working for his employer, delivering some massage chairs to a customer. To help the plaintiff make the deliveries, his employer rented a truck from U-Haul, the defendant. Contained in the rental agreement signed by the employer was a clause agreeing to submit any claim arising from the use of the truck to binding arbitration. The employer signed the rental agreement, but the plaintiff did not.

On the way to make the delivery, a tire blew out on the truck, and the plaintiff was seriously injured as a result. Notwithstanding the arbitration clause contained in the rental agreement, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against U-Haul. In defense, U-Haul claimed that the plaintiff’s claims were barred because he was required to submit them to arbitration, pursuant to the rental agreement.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the type of evidence that Maryland truck accident victims must present in order to defeat a defense motion for summary judgment. The case presented an interesting, albeit unusual, set of facts in which a motorist struck a bull that had gotten loose and wandered onto the highway. The court ultimately determined that summary judgment in favor of the motorist was appropriate because there was no evidence indicating how long the bull had been in the road.

BullThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving a semi-truck eastbound on a highway when he was struck by the defendant, who had been traveling westbound on the same highway. The collision occurred at night. Immediately prior to the collision, the defendant struck a bull that had wandered onto the highway. This caused the defendant to lose consciousness, resulting in her car drifting into oncoming traffic, where it hit the plaintiff’s truck.

There was evidence presented that the bull had been on the loose for several hours and that a team of people had been looking for it the whole time. Several members of the search team had parked their cars along the east side of the highway. There was also a police car parked on the east side of the highway. The plaintiff testified that she did not recall seeing the cars on the side of the highway. It was established that, at the time of the collision, the plaintiff was traveling under the posted speed limit and had the vehicle’s headlights on.

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Earlier this month, a federal court of appeals decided a truck accident case that is relevant to all Maryland truck accident victims considering filing a claim against the driver they believe to be responsible for their injuries. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether a lower court was proper in striking the plaintiff’s statement of facts as a sanction for failing to comply with the court’s discovery deadlines. Ultimately, the federal appellate court held that the lower court was acting within its discretion when it struck the plaintiff’s statement, and it affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Semi-Truck Head OnThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving on the highway when she was struck from behind by the defendant, who was operating a semi-truck. The collision caused the plaintiff to lose control of her vehicle, which ended up crashing into the center median. The plaintiff was seriously injured as a result and filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the truck driver as well as the company that employed him.

The defendants claimed that the plaintiff was the one who lost control of her vehicle first, and she was the one who collided with the defendant. In a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, both sides asked the court to strike the opposing side’s statement of facts. Specifically, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s statement of facts should be stricken because it relied on expert reports that were not disclosed to the defendant until four months after the deadline for discovery had passed.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a truck accident case that presents an important point for potential Maryland truck accident plaintiffs. The case focused on whether the lower court was proper in granting summary judgment to the defendant after striking the plaintiff’s statement of facts. The appellate court concluded that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in precluding the plaintiff’s statement and granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant because the plaintiff disclosed the substance of his expert’s testimony four months after it was due.

Semi-TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in an accident when the defendant truck driver rear-ended the plaintiff while he was driving on the highway. After the initial collision, the plaintiff lost control of his vehicle, and the car spun out into the median.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant truck driver as well as his employer. The defendant responded to the allegations by claiming that it was the plaintiff who first struck his vehicle and that the plaintiff was the negligent driver.

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