Articles Posted in Multiple-truck Accidents

When most people think about car accidents, they usually assume that a crash takes place between two parties. Sometimes, however, car accidents can often take many forms and levels of complexity. In some cases, crashes can involve multiple parties and it can be unclear who is at fault, how to establish fault, or even how the accident took place. This is especially the case in Maryland truck accidents, which often end up in chain-reaction collisions.

According to a recent news report, a five-vehicle accident left one person dead. The crash took place when a car was heading west and the driver veered into an eastbound lane and collided with a propane truck. Upon impact, the propane truck rolled over and crashed into at least two other vehicles and caught on fire but did not explode. Local authorities reported that the driver of the initial vehicle that crashed into the propane truck died at the scene, the propane truck driver was transported to a local hospital, and the condition of the other drivers remained unknown.

Maryland, like many other states, has specific laws on how to determine fault in car accidents involving multiple parties and a complicated chain of events. When it comes to establishing liability, Maryland law uses joint and several liability, which allows for there to be more than one cause of a car crash.

Maryland truck accidents are almost always unexpected and shocking. An individual driving along the road or highway may be listening to music or an audiobook, talking with others in the car, or thinking about their day ahead when suddenly they are involved in a crash. The immediate aftermath can be disorienting, and individuals involved in these accidents who are not injured in some obvious way—broken bones, bleeding, etc.—may think that they are fine and simply move on with their day, wanting to get back to normal after such a shock.

For example, take a recent large-scale truck accident that occurred in West Virginia on Interstate 81 near the Maryland line. According to a recent report, the wreck occurred just before 8 PM one evening. That night, a 911 supervisor said that 10 to 15 tractor-trailers might have been involved, but that police were having a difficult time determining how many specifically because the scene of the crash was such a mess. Other vehicles continued to slide into the wreckage even after the initial collisions. The next morning, a sheriff reported that they now believed the wreck involved eight tractor-trailers and three passenger vehicles. While officials do not yet know what happened, they did confirm that icy weather was a major contributing factor. The wreckage was so large that the northbound lanes of the interstate were closed for about six hours. The accident currently remains under investigation.

Surprisingly, only one person was transported to the hospital with injuries after this major crash, although at least eleven vehicles were involved. But it’s quite possible that many of those involved may actually be injured and not know it yet. Oftentimes, after Maryland truck accidents, individuals may think in the immediate aftermath that they are fine, but then begin to feel pain from injuries days or even weeks later. They may begin to feel soreness in their neck or back, or find they even need chiropractic help to manage their pain a month after the accident. While individuals in this situation may think they were “uninjured” by the crash, the reality is they have just as much of a claim to recovery in a personal injury lawsuit as those taken to the hospital. Maryland state law allows all who are injured in these accidents to file suit, even if the injuries were discovered weeks or even months later. Of course, an individual realizing belatedly that they were injured should speak with a Maryland truck accident attorney as soon as possible, to ensure that they file within the relevant time limit for these suits.

Anytime someone is injured in a Maryland truck accident, they have the ability to file a civil suit against the person or party responsible for the crash. However, there may sometimes be confusion about where they can bring that suit when the crash happened in a different state than the one where the victim resides. Maryland residents traveling for work or pleasure might be injured while in other states. When this happens, they may mistakenly believe they cannot ever bring suit in Maryland because the crash occurred elsewhere. This is not true. While the laws regarding personal jurisdiction—where someone can be sued—are complicated, there are many times where a Maryland victim can sue in Maryland, even if the crash happened in another state.

This is especially important to remember when crashes occur on a highway, because many of the victims may not be residents of the state in which the crash occurred. For example, a bus, three semi-trailers, and a car were all recently involved in a massive multi-vehicle crash in Pennsylvania. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the incident occurred early on Sunday morning on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. A tour bus was traveling downhill on a curve when it hit an embankment. Then, a UPS truck, the two FedEx trucks, and the passenger car, all of which were behind the tour bus, hit it from behind and caused it to topple on its side, causing the massive multi-vehicle crash.

The magnitude of the crash was reflected in the tragic fatalities and injuries—at least five people were killed, including a 9-year-old boy, and 60 others were taken to local hospitals with injuries. First responders called the accident a “mass casualty incident.” In the aftermath, 86 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was closed in all directions for several hours.

Motorists confront a variety of dangers on Maryland highways. A significant number of these hazards have to do with the many semi-trucks or other large commercial vehicles that seem to be a permanent fixture along the I-95 corridor, the Beltway, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

While the dangers presented by large trucks number too many to count, one of the most unrecognized hazards arises when a truck driver has the need to pull over onto the shoulder of the road. A Maryland truck driver may need to pull over for many reasons, including a blown tire, shifting cargo, or some other equipment failure. Truck drivers may also pull over if they feel too drowsy to safely operate a truck. Whatever the case, when a semi-truck pulls over onto the side of the highway, it can present a serious danger for passing motorists.

Included in the duties of a Maryland truck driver is the responsibility to safely operate the rig at all times. This includes parking a truck on the side of the highway. Except in cases of an emergency, truck drivers must only pull off the road in designated areas. Moreover, truck drivers must ensure that they are completely off the road, and not blocking any lane of travel. A driver’s failure to take these basic precautions may result in a serious Maryland truck accident.

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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