Articles Posted in Legal Concepts in Truck Accident Cases

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an interesting issue that commonly arises in Maryland bus accident lawsuits. The case presented the court with the task of determining if the instructions given to the jury regarding the aggravation of the plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries were supported by the evidence presented at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that the defendant’s actions aggravated the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition, and thus it reversed the jury’s verdict.

Bus FloorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a bus when a motorist pulled out in front of the bus, leaving the bus driver with an inadequate distance to stop. The bus collided with the vehicle, and the plaintiff was injured as a result.

The plaintiff complained of lower back pain and stiffness, which he claimed was a result of the accident. Ultimately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with disc degeneration. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an interesting car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff was entitled to compensation for his medical expenses that were incurred though an out-of-network provider. Ultimately, the court held that an accident victim has the right to choose where to obtain treatment, even if he is insured and chooses an out-of-network provider.

LabcoatThe defendant’s argument that the plaintiff failed to mitigate damages did not convince the court, and the defendant insurance company was on the hook for the sum of the plaintiff’s medical expenses. Although the case arose in another state, the case is important for Maryland truck accident victims because it paves the way for similar arguments to be made in Maryland courts.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was seriously injured when another driver struck him while he was changing a flat tire on his motorhome on the side of the road. Initially, the plaintiff obtained medical treatment through a medical care provider that was covered by his insurance. However, after filing a personal injury case, the plaintiff then switched his medical care provider to one that was not covered by his insurance policy.

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The chances are that anyone who has spent much time driving on Maryland’s highways has seen the remnants of an improperly secured load of cargo lying on the side of the highway. Often, a driver may not notice that they have lost part of their load, or the driver may make the conscious decision to keep on moving to avoid the hazard and potential liability from trying to remove the spilled cargo from the highway.

Cement PipesWhatever the cause may be, spilled cargo can easily result in a serious Maryland traffic accident. Indeed, the American Automobile Association estimates that there are over 200,000 accidents each year caused by road debris, including approximately 500 fatalities. This figure includes accidents that are caused by the ubiquitous remains of shredded tires resulting from semi-truck tire blowouts.

Most of the time, spilled cargo falls from vehicles with open-air beds, such as pick-up trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, and garbage trucks. But on occasion, a semi-truck driver fails to properly secure the rear doors, and cargo can spill out the back of the truck. In any event, a driver who fails to properly secure their load can be held liable for any injuries caused as a result of the spillage. A truck driver may also be liable if the remnants from their shredded tire cause an accident, but locating the owner of such remnants often proves to be difficult.

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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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