Articles Posted in Multiple-truck Accidents

As if dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of being involved in a Maryland truck accident is not enough, accident victims must also worry about how they will pay for their medical expenses given the fact that they may have missed work. Auto insurance is supposed to help accident victims obtain quick compensation for their injuries; however, as anyone who has been involved in an accident before may know, insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with.

An insurance policy is a contract between the insurance company and the insured. The fundamental nature of a Maryland insurance policy is that the insured agreed to pay a premium in exchange for the insurance company’s promise to compensate them for certain losses in the event of an accident. However, insurance policies are complex legal documents that precisely define what drivers and types of accidents are covered.

When an insurance company determines that a claim is not covered, they deny payment. Because insurance companies have an interest in paying out as little as possible in claims, they invest significant resources in legal representation in hopes of limiting their liability. Needless to say, this can be frustrating for Maryland car accident victims who rely on insurance proceeds to get their life back on track after a serious accident.

Chances are, anyone who has spent much time driving has ended up stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, empty gas tank, or some other mechanical problem. Not only is this an incredibly frustrating experience, but it is also a very dangerous one.

While the number of accidents involving one or more stationary vehicles on the side of the road is small, these accidents represent a disproportionate number of the fatal Maryland car accidents reported each year. This is due to several reasons, but primarily these accidents are so serious because they involve one vehicle – often a semi-truck – traveling at very high speeds.

Truck drivers are often involved in roadside accidents. For one, semi-trucks spend a lot of time on the road. More important, however, is the fact that these trucks are massive, and it only takes a small misjudgment to cause what can turn out to be a serious accident. Additionally, the drivers who operate these large trucks are often doing so for hours on end with little sleep.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a truck accident case raising an interesting issue that occasionally comes up in Maryland truck accident cases. Specifically, the court had to discuss whether it was an error for the lower court to refuse to instruct the jury on the plaintiff’s duty to mitigate damages. Ultimately, the court concluded that the trial court was acting within its discretion when it refused to give the requested jury instruction.

The Facts of the Case

A truck driver was involved in an accident when he rear-ended another truck that was traveling 15-18 miles per hour on the highway. After the collision, the man’s truck caught on fire. The man’s son happened to be passing by and recognized his father’s truck. The son attempted to rescue his father but was unable to do so. He was seriously burned as a result of his rescue efforts.

Later, the son told other members of his family about his father’s death. As may be suspected, the deceased driver’s wife suffered serious emotional distress as a result of hearing the news and had to be hospitalized. She was unable to return to work due to the severity of her depression.

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Accidents involving semi trucks and other large commercial or industrial vehicles are relatively common in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Tragically, the victims in the accidents with these large vehicles are more often seriously injured or killed than in other types of crashes. Accidents involving commercial vehicles may be caused by the negligent act of the commercial driver or else malfunctioning or unsafe equipment. Semi-trucks and many other commercial vehicles are not always easy to operate safely; with the large number of commercial vehicles on our roadways, it is necessary to set high standards for training and safety for commercial drivers.

Additional Safety Responsibilities for Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers are required to carry a commercial driver’s license, or “CDL”, to legally operate a large commercial vehicle. Semi-trucks, vehicles transporting hazardous materials, and construction-related vehicles may require additional certifications. In commercial driving courses, drivers should learn about the hazards of driving a large vehicle, as well as the additional safety and legal responsibilities of commercial drivers, such as time logging and more frequent equipment checks. Unfortunately, many commercial vehicles on the road are not being safely operated by a properly licensed driver. When these vehicles are involved in accidents, the danger of somebody involved being seriously injured or killed increases.

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One of the reasons that tractor-trailers and other large trucks are prone to getting involved in serious accidents is the fact that they require a longer distance to come to a complete stop. This is true even with an empty trailer, but when a truck is fully loaded, it can take up to three times the distance to come to a complete stop, compared to other, smaller vehicles.

It is for this reason that in geographical areas where visibility may be limited for one reason or another, truck drivers need to take extra precautions. The limited visibility may be due to fog or other weather conditions present on the road, but it may also be a function of the road itself. For example, winding roads that travel through heavily forested areas, as well as roads through the hills with peaks and valleys, present difficulties for truck drivers.

Notwithstanding the difficulty of operating a truck in these conditions, it is the truck driver’s duty to ensure the safe operation of his vehicle at all times. This often means researching a route in advance, slowing down to below-posted speeds, or even calling ahead to make arrangements with local law enforcement for safe passage.

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Recently in Delaware, an accident involving two cement trucks and a passenger car injured two people. According to a report by Delmarva Now, the accident occurred just after 9:15 in the morning near the intersection of Woodpecker Road and Butler Branch Road in Seaford, Delaware.

Evidently, a woman was heading south on Woodpecker Road and was approaching a narrow bridge. At the same time, two cement trucks were approaching the bridge from the opposite direction. Before the first truck entered the bridge, he slowed down in order to allow the driver of the car to cross the bridge first. However, the driver of the second cement truck, which was directly behind the first, was unable to stop in time and needed to make a last-minute decision whether to run into the truck in front of him or try and avoid a collision.

The driver of the second truck attempted to avoid the collision but ended up rolling the truck instead. As the driver of the car crossed the bridge, she crashed into the overturned cement truck. After the accident, both the driver of the cement truck and the driver of the car were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

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Earlier this week, two tractor trailers got into an accident in one of the westbound lanes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. According to a report by the Baltimore Sun, the two trucks were “wedged” into one another, although luckily both trucks remained upright throughout the incident.

Traffic was delayed for about three hours while emergency crews cleared the bridge of the two trucks. A team was also called out to clean up some spilled fuel from one of the trucks. One of the truck drivers was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and he is expected to recover.

Shortly before the accident officials instituted a wind restriction on the bridge due to winds that were gusting up to almost 50 mile per hour. The restriction was aimed at semi-trucks and tractor-trailers without heavy loads, because the wind could potentially blow the large, lightweight vehicles into guard rails or out of their lane of travel. It is unknown whether either of the trucks involved in the accident were subject to the restriction; however, at the time of the articles publication, authorities were still investigating the accident.

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Drivers traveling on Interstate 95 near the Baltimore Beltway last week may have encountered serious traffic delays in the area just south of Interstate 695, when lanes were closed due to a tractor-trailer crashing and erupting into flames.

Maryland State Police say the blaze started around three in the morning last Tuesday, after a tractor-trailer hit a disabled tow truck, which was being towed away by a second tow truck. Luckily, the driver of the tractor-trailer driver was able to get out of his vehicle before it became engulfed in flames, and no injuries were reported.

A cleanup crew from the Maryland Department of Environment Hazardous Materials responded to the scene in order to clean up some gas that had spilled on the highway. An investigation into the collision is ongoing.

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Unlike traffic accidents involving passenger cars, collisions between a cars and pedestrians, and motorcycle-related roadway crashes, trucking accidents can be and many times are serious events affecting multiple vehicles and numerous individuals. Here in the Baltimore area, as well as throughout Maryland and in the Washington, D.C., area, commercial truck drivers are held to higher standards than the average motorist.

As a Maryland personal injury law firm, our attorneys know the law as it applies to traffic accidents caused by drivers of commercial vehicles. With specific standards required of truckers and the companied for which they work, any personal injury lawyer who handles cases involving these kinds of large-vehicle crashes must fully understand both state and federal regulations covering commercial vehicles. Any truck driver or commercial trucking company that is found to be in violation of Maryland’s commercial vehicle laws, could possibly be held responsible if any one or a number of those rules has been violated while the vehicle in question is out on the road.

It’s quite true that trucking accidents are an unfortunate reality in our modern world; these is really no avoiding these vehicles as passenger car drivers and other motorists must inevitably share the road with extremely large and massive vehicles. It’s no surprise, then, that thousands of innocent victims killed, injured or maimed in accident involving collisions with semi tractor-trailer rigs and other large commercial motor vehicles.

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Hard as it may be to reconcile at time, we all put our lives on the line each and every time we step out of homes and into a motor vehicle to travel to work, school or even to the grocery store. It’s not a pleasant thought, to be sure, but it is a reality: People are killed and injured every day across the state of Maryland, and throughout the U.S., doing simple day-to-day activities that none of us would think twice about. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we have to concur that operating a motor vehicle can be intrinsically life-threatening, if only from a statistical standpoint.

Of all the many and varied causes of traffic collisions, a percentage of these are the result of a failure in some safety- or control-related vehicle component or system. Be it a fractured steering shaft, poorly cast suspension arm, improperly torqued bolt or other fastener, even a faulty safety belt, each of these items can result in a serious accident. Depending on the part, the vehicle’s speed at the time of the failure, and other factors, it’s not a stretch to say that a fatality or multiple fatalities could be in the cards as well.

As automobile, trucking and motorcycle accident attorneys, we understand that these are not uplifting subjects. But the fact remains, at least for experienced legal professionals like ourselves, the existence of a faulty or poorly designed vehicle part or component can be grounds for a products liability suit, especially if a person is hurt or killed as a result of the failure.

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