Articles Posted in Legal Concepts in Truck Accident Cases

car accidentRecently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing an interesting issue that will occasionally come up in Maryland truck accident cases. Specifically, the case dealt with a settlement agreement that was executed between the plaintiff and several potentially liable parties, whereby the plaintiff accepted compensation in exchange for an agreement to excuse the parties from liability.

The question the court had to answer was whether the broad language of that agreement resulted in the remaining potentially liable parties being excused from liability as well. In so doing, the court took the rare step to consider extrinsic evidence that was not contained in the settlement agreement to determine the intent of the parties.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in an accident involving a sandwich delivery truck. Within two weeks of the accident, the plaintiff entered into a settlement agreement with the vehicle’s owner and the owner’s insurance company. That agreement provided that the plaintiff would receive $25,000, the policy maximum, and in exchange would “release, acquit and forever discharge the said payor(s), their agents and employees, and all other persons, firms or corporations who are or might be liable” for injuries resulting from the accident.

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product liabilityRecently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving an evidentiary ruling that precluded the plaintiff’s proposed expert witnesses from testifying. The case is relevant in Maryland truck accident cases because it illustrates how courts determine whether an expert’s testimony will be admissible and, thus, able to be considered by the jury.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her infant son were involved in a semi-truck accident. During the accident, the plaintiff’s vehicle was dragged under the side of the semi-truck’s trailer in what is known as a “side underride accident.” The plaintiff suffered serious brain damage as a result of the accident, and filed a personal injury case against several parties.

This particular case involved the lawsuit filed by the plaintiff against the manufacturer of the trailer. The plaintiff planned on presenting testimony of an alternate design that would have prevented, or at least mitigated, the plaintiff’s injuries through two expert witnesses. The expert witnesses intended on testifying about a telescoping side guard, which expands to protect other areas of the truck in the event that the truck’s sliding axle is in the rear position.

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semi truckAny motorist who has spent a significant amount of time driving along Maryland’s highways has likely seen the remnants of semi-truck tires along the edge of the road. These piles of shredded rubber should be a reminder to Maryland truck drivers of the importance of properly maintaining the tires on their rig.

When a semi-truck experiences a tire blow-out, the driver will have to struggle to maintain control of the vehicle when traveling at high speeds. Of course, when a blow-out occurs on a crowded Maryland highway, there will be little the truck driver can do to prevent a serious Maryland truck accident.

Due to the dangers involved, big trucking companies, as well as the individual drivers they hire, have a duty to make sure that their trucks are properly maintained at all times. This includes performing the regular required maintenance on the truck’s tires, as well as conducting a visual inspection prior to driving the truck. When a truck driver fails to take these necessary precautions, they place Maryland motorists at risk.

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truck accidentIn many Maryland truck accidents, witnesses to the accident or those who were involved in the accident make statements to one another in the immediate aftermath of the accident. Often, these statements are made without forethought, and may be instinctive reactions to what had just happened. However, these statements may be illuminating when it later comes to making a determination as to who was at fault.

By way of example, earlier this month a fatal truck accident claimed the life of one motorist. According to a recent news report, a semi-truck driver inexplicably lost control of his vehicle, crossed over the center median and into oncoming traffic, and then collided with two other vehicles. Three other vehicles then became involved in the accident, injuring a total of three people.

Police conducted an interview of the truck driver after the accident, and while police are not releasing the substance of the driver’s statement, they did explain that it was “unusual.” Whether the statement was some sort of apology or confession remains to be seen. Police are continuing with their investigation into the fatal accident, but have told reporters that they do not believe drugs or alcohol to have been a factor.

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Legal News GavelIn Maryland truck accident cases, the plaintiff must be able to establish each of the elements of their claim in order to be successful. Simply stated, these elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the causation element of a negligence lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial based on the fact that the defendant truck driver created a substantial risk of harm to the plaintiff when he parked on the side of the highway.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was traveling on the highway shortly before 7:00 a.m. when he approached a semi-truck that had been parked on the side of the road. The truck, which was occupied by the defendants, was parked in the emergency lane, about ten inches away from the nearest lane of travel.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue for many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs. The case arose after a truck accident in which the plaintiff, a woman originally from Mexico without a valid work permit for the United States, was injured in an accident with a truck driver. The case required the court to discuss whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial after defense counsel made several veiled comments regarding the plaintiff’s immigration status.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when the defendant truck driver made an allegedly improper lane change into the plaintiff’s vehicle. Many facts in the case were contested, with the plaintiff and defendant each maintaining different stories of how the accident occurred.

As a part of the plaintiff’s case, she had a medical expert testify regarding her injuries and what treatment she would likely need in the future, as well as the cost of that treatment. During cross-examination of that witness, defense counsel asked the expert if he was aware if the plaintiff was going to “move back” to Mexico. Defense counsel made another reference to the fact that the plaintiff spoke primarily Spanish and only limited English.

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When a jury returns a verdict in a plaintiff’s favor, the jury will then move to the next stage of the process where it determines the appropriate amount of damages that the plaintiff or plaintiffs are entitled to. In most Maryland personal injury cases, the figure the jury arrives at will be given great respect by the trial judge, and will only be modified under certain circumstances. A recent truck accident case illustrates the level of deference that judges give to jury verdicts.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff lost his wife and daughter, and his son was seriously injured, when the three were involved in a serious accident. The plaintiff’s wife was driving the couple’s two children in the slow lane on the highway when a Fed Ex truck slammed into the back of the family’s car. It was going approximately 65 miles per hour. The collision resulted in the deaths of the plaintiff’s wife and daughter, and seriously injured his nineteen-month-old son.

The plaintiff filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit on behalf of himself and his son against several of the parties involved, including Fed Ex and the driver of the truck who worked for an independent contractor that was retained by Fed Ex. After the case was submitted to a jury, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The verdict was broken down into economic and non-economic damages. The economic damages consisted of about 1-3% of the total damages award.

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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.

Legal News GavelThe 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.

Legal News GavelThe 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.

Legal News GavelWhatever 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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