Articles Posted in Legal Concepts in Truck Accident Cases

Like any other driver, when a Maryland truck driver hits the road, they are expected to drive carefully, or to exercise “reasonable care.” The standard of reasonable care extends even to emergency situations. This means that when a truck driver encounters an emergency on the road, such as a Maryland truck accident, the truck driver must still exercise reasonable care. However, this standard considers the circumstances the driver is presented with and the amount of time the driver has to react.

In a Maryland accident case, a plaintiff has to show that a defendant failed to meet the standard of care. In Maryland, if a truck driver suddenly finds himself in a dangerous situation, the driver is not expected to exercise the same degree of care as a driver who has sufficient time to evaluate his or her options and decide what to do. But the driver is expected to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety and for the safety of others. This doctrine is known as the sudden emergency doctrine. However, the truck driver cannot benefit from the doctrine if the driver is the one who caused the emergency or if the driver is not actually in a dangerous situation. So, if a truck driver damages another person or property in an emergency situation, the question is, when the truck driver was presented with the emergency, did the truck driver exercise the degree of care that a reasonable, prudent person would, given the circumstances? A jury or a judge will also take into consideration the amount of time the driver had to react and evaluate the choices. Failing to take reasonable care under the circumstances may make the driver liable for resulting damages.

Six People Killed in Crash Involving Over 100 Vehicles

Vicarious liability refers to the liability of a person or entity for another person’s wrongful actions. In a Maryland truck accident case, a person or entity may be liable for an employee’s actions or another individual in some circumstances. The person or entity being held responsible may be liable based on the relationship between the person or entity and the person who acted wrongfully. Vicarious liability does not require wrongdoing on the part of the defendant and is based only on the relationship between the defendant and the wrongful actor.

Vicarious liability often arises in the context of an employer being sued for an employee’s negligent acts. An employer might be liable based on the employer-employee relationship if the employee who acted wrongfully was acting within the scope of the employee’s employment. Vicarious liability is based on the idea that the employer hired the employee and is responsible for the employee’s actions carried out in furtherance of the employer’s business and authorized by the employer. In some cases, an employer may be liable even where the employee is personally immune from suit.

Generally, whether an employee was acting within the scope of the employee’s employment is one for the jury. Many lawsuits have been filed alleging that an employer is liable for an employee’s actions while driving to or from work. In general, Maryland courts have held that employers are not liable for negligent conduct while an employee is traveling to or from work, absent special circumstances. In some cases, there is a dispute about whether a wrongful actor was an employee or an independent contractor. In determining whether an employer-employee relationship existed, courts may consider how the worker was selected, how wages were paid, the employer’s ability to fire the person, the employer’s ability to control the person’s conduct, and whether the work was part of the employer’s regular business.

Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road, making accidents more likely. In the tragic event of a fatal Maryland truck crash, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim against parties at fault after a wrongful death in a Maryland truck accident. Maryland’s wrongful death statute is intended to compensate family members for the loss of their loved one. Eligible family members can recover compensation for a range of damages.

In Maryland, damages are generally made up of two categories of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, or special damages, are damages with a fixed dollar value, including past and future medical bills, transportation costs, and lost income. Non-economic damages, or general damages, are damages that do not have a fixed value, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim for their pain and losses. Punitive damages are also available in some Maryland cases and are intended to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in such wrongful conduct. Generally, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the decedent’s death.

NTSB Issues Findings After Truck Driver Killed by Fallen Pipe in Tunnel

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued findings in a fatal 2018 truck accident. According to the report, a Raymour & Flanigan truck driver was driving a semi tractor-trailer. The driver was driving through a tunnel on a highway when it struck an electrical pipe that had fallen and was hanging by electrical wires. The pipe hit the windshield and struck the truck driver. The truck exited the tunnel and crossed into the median, striking the guardrail, which propelled the truck across the highway and onto the guardrail on the other side. The truck driver died in the crash.

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Spoliation refers to the destruction or the failure to preserve evidence relevant to a case. Under Maryland law, spoliation occurs when there is an act of destruction of discoverable evidence that occurred after a lawsuit has been filed or at a time when the filing is imminent, as well as an intent to destroy the evidence. The doctrine of spoliation of evidence is based on the principles of fairness and equity. The reasoning is that a party should not be permitted to destroy evidence to the detriment of their opponent. In Maryland, if there has been spoliation in a Maryland truck accident case, the court may give a spoliation jury instruction that permits an adverse inference even if it did not involve an act of bad faith. This means that a jury can infer that the evidence was harmful to the party that destroyed the evidence. Apart from a potential jury instruction, courts are authorized to impose a range of sanctions, including dismissing the case.

In a recent case before a state’s supreme court, the court considered whether a trucking company’s case should be dismissed against a manufacturer after it discarded parts relevant to the case. In that case, a truck driver for the trucking company experienced the dump gate activating on its own twice in one week, causing it to open and dump its load unexpectedly. The trucking company replaced the rig’s valve, rewired the control circuit for the system, and added a master switch in the truck’s cab. About a year later, the dump gate in the truck driver’s trailer again activated on its own while he was driving on an interstate. The trailer opened and dumped its load of gravel unexpectedly. The release of the gravel caused several collisions, injuring several people. On the same day, another one of the company’s trucks experienced the same issue, dumping sand unexpectedly on the same interstate.

After several people filed suit against the trucking company, the company filed suit against a company that manufactured the dump gate valves. It alleged that the rig’s valve was defectively designed. Experts retained by the trucking company found that the valve system had design defects and lacked safeguards, and that the valves could activate unexpectedly when exposed to external electromagnetic fields.

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows private individuals to file suit against the federal government and its agencies for certain torts committed by persons acting on behalf of the United States. However, the FTCA provides only a limited right and exempts certain claims. For example, the FTCA exempts a number of intentional torts as well as claims based on the performance or failure to perform a “discretionary function or duty.” This means that if a Maryland truck accident case involving a federal employee or entity is based on a discretionary function or duty (the discretionary-function exception), the case will be dismissed.

Whether a claim is based on a discretionary function or duty is the subject of much litigation. Courts have held that the conduct cannot be considered discretionary if there is a directive that an employee has no choice but to follow. If the conduct does involve an element of discretion, courts must also consider whether the discretion is actually or potentially affected by legitimate policy-related decisions. If the conduct is discretionary and is affected by legitimate policy-related decisions, the exception applies, and the government is immune from suit. If the federal government claims that it is immune from suit under the FTCA, the government has the burden to prove that an exception applies.

In a recent FTCA claim before a federal appeals court, the court considered a truck accident case involving an individual who was delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service. In that case, the individual working for a contractor that was delivering mail for the Postal Service rear-ended a school bus, leaving two students severely injured. The plaintiff sued the Postal Service under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that it was negligent for failing to inspect the contractor’s vehicles. The Postal Service argued that the case should be dismissed under the discretionary function exception.

Generally, after someone is injured in a Maryland truck accident, they will first look to hold the other drivers involved in the accident responsible. However, in accidents involving a single vehicle or even in crashes involving multiple vehicles, state or local governments may also have some liability based on their responsibility to maintain the roadway, particularly in cases involving intersections or other conditions in the roadway that are known to be dangerous.

State and local governments are responsible for keeping roads in a reasonably safe condition for everyone traveling on the road. In a case based on a dangerous condition on a roadway, the plaintiff generally must show that there was a dangerous condition that existed, that the government knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, that the government knew about the condition for long enough to address the condition or warn the plaintiff, that the government had a duty to act, and that the government’s failure to act caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

In some cases, a government may be immune from liability depending on the circumstances of the case. However, in Maryland, state and local governments generally can be held responsible if there is a dangerous condition on the roadway and if they had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and failed to properly address it. In these circumstances, injured persons normally can file suit against the government for its failure to maintain roads in a reasonably safe condition.

Maryland truck accidents involving mail carriers and mail trucks can raise many unique challenges, and injury victims must understand how the law may impact their personal injury lawsuit. These accidents are inherently different from those involving private delivery carriers, such as Fed-Ex, UPS, and Amazon. The difference lies in the fact that mail carriers are generally federal government employees. Therefore, these cases involve different legal standards, notice requirements, and eligible damages.

Despite the complex and daunting legal process, individuals can sue the U.S. Postal service if they cause an accident. These cases can stem from typical car accidents involving a neighborhood mail delivery vehicle or a larger mail truck from a distribution center. In some cases, the government may not own the mail delivery vehicle because they sub-contracted it from an independent entity. However, when this occurs, the federal government may still retain some portion of the liability.

Claims against the federal government, such as a mail carrier, involve the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which requires plaintiffs to abide by strict procedures and regulations. Under the FTCA, an injury victim pursuing a claim against a federal employee must meet the FTCA’s requirements, unless the driver was a sub-contractor These claims must conform with the law of the state where the act took place, and the negligent conduct must have occurred while the defendant was acting within the scope of their employment. If the negligent party were a sub-contractor, the accident victim would likely pursue a typical personal injury lawsuit.

There is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one in a Maryland truck accident, especially when the accident was completely preventable. While many people are able to drive around the state each day without getting injured, every so often someone will make a careless mistake, leading to a tragic, and potentially fatal, accident. These accidents are a sobering reminder that one mistake or careless decision can literally change an entire life and cause immense pain and suffering.

Recently, a truck driver ran a red light one Saturday morning and hit a car. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the impact of the crash caused a tractor that was on the truck to fall off and onto the car. Tragically, a 10-year-old girl riding in the car with her mother was hit by the crane of the tractor and killed. Her mother was also injured, and was rushed to the hospital, but is expected to survive. The 60-year-old driver of the truck was not hurt.

This accident is a prime example of a collision that could lead to a Maryland wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought when someone is killed due to someone else’s negligence, typically by the victim’s family or estate. In this case, the girl’s mother, for example, may be able to sue the truck driver for negligence.

When a truck driver causes an accident after making a careless or reckless driving error—like running a red light or driving the wrong way on a one-way street—state law allows the injured parties to file a Maryland truck accident lawsuit to recover for damages incurred as a result. However, there may be certain cases where states want to limit liability for certain drivers or accidents. One common instance is limiting the liability of or providing immunity to those driving emergency medical vehicles such as ambulances who cause crashes. Granting this immunity allows those providing emergency medical care to escape liability if tragically they cause an accident while trying to help someone else.

In a recent opinion, a state supreme court considered whether an ambulance driver was immune from liability after he ran a red light, causing a serious car accident. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff in the case was injured on March 11, 2016, when a private ambulance driven by one of the defendants (and owned by the other defendant) ran a red light, colliding with the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, seeking to recover damages for his injuries based on the negligence or, alternatively, the willful and wanton misconduct of the driver. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s negligence claim based on an immunity provision in a state statute. The statute provides civil immunity to anyone who is operating an ambulance in the performance of non-emergency medical services at the time of the accident, unless they were operating it with willful or wanton misconduct. Because negligence is much easier to prove than willful or wanton misconduct, having the negligence claim dismissed would significantly decrease the plaintiff’s chance at winning the suit.

Every day, millions of students ride to and from school on school buses. While school buses are generally a safe option for children to get to school, they are not immune from getting into accidents. School buses, including those in Maryland, get into crashes on occasion, which can cause injuries to those on board. Those injured may be able to collect financially from the driver responsible for the accident. However, doing so often requires that the injury victim file a claim with the school district’s insurance company.

Generally, Maryland school buses all have some sort of insurance policy to protect them in case of an accident. This insurance likely includes what is called Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM. This coverage protects those who are hit by a negligent driver who does not have enough to financially cover the accident. For instance, if someone is riding in a school bus driven by driver A when driver B, in their car, hits the school bus, driver B may be liable to driver A and the passengers for their injuries. Let’s say these injuries total $300,000. Driver B might only have insurance coverage of up to $100,000, leaving them $200,000 short. Or, in some cases, driver B might not have insurance at all. In this instance, a plaintiff may want to try and recover against the school bus’s insurance provider using the UIM coverage provision of the policy. If the school bus has UIM coverage of up to $500,000, they may be able to pay what the responsible driver was unable to.

If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Maryland insurance laws can be difficult to understand, and insurance companies routinely reject claims for coverage in an attempt to limit their financial responsibility, meaning that cases like this may end up in court. For example, a state appeals court recently considered a case with a very similar fact pattern to the example laid out above. The victim was injured when a car hit the school bus she was driving in, but the car’s driver did not have enough to cover her injuries. The victim attempted to recover from the school bus’s insurance provider under their UIM coverage provision, but the insurance company refused to pay, insisting that the coverage was limited by statute, even though the contract said otherwise. The case had to go to court multiple times for the plaintiff to finally receive the compensation she deserved for her injuries.

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