Articles Posted in Negligent Driving

The danger of not wearing your seatbelt is compounded when a truck or other large vehicle is involved in the crash. That goes for people in the truck as well as others on the road. Large commercial vehicles like trucks are on the road to transport heavy items over long distances. That means that trucks can become difficult to maneuver under the best of circumstances. This danger is compounded in emergency situations, preventing truck drivers from turning or stopping suddenly due to the weight of their vehicle and cargo.

Even without heavy cargo or large trailers, trucks are heavy, making accidents involving them inherently more dangerous than collisions between two smaller vehicles. Additionally, truck drivers are under extreme pressure to spend long hours on the road, as they often need to meet delivery or cargo deadlines. This can lead to exhaustion and impaired judgment on the roads. Tired drivers are more likely to make mistakes when driving, increasing the likelihood of accidents. This is why you often see semi-trucks pulled off on the side of the road, as drivers will sometimes take naps or rest in the midst of their long-haul rides.

According to a recent news article, Maryland State Police said a tractor-trailer was stopped on the right shoulder around 6:10 a.m. in the northbound direction near the Beltway exits in Rosedale. According to a preliminary investigation, a second tractor-trailer rear-ended the stopped tractor-trailer. The driver of the second tractor-trailer was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Their condition was not immediately released. Police did not specify whether the other driver was injured. The express toll lanes were shut down at Interstate 895. The left two main travel lanes were shut down on northbound I-95 at the site of the crash. The scene was cleared by the afternoon. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Truck drivers operate some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road, and as a result they have a heightened duty to those with whom they share the road. One of truck drivers’ most obvious duties is to safely operate their vehicles while on public roads. This includes remaining free from the effects of drugs or alcohol, getting enough rest to be fully aware while driving, and also paying full attention to their surroundings.

When a truck driver fails to live up to this standard, the likelihood of causing an accident greatly increases. When an accident does occur, the accident victim may be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries from the truck driver and potentially the driver’s employer.

Trucking companies are not liable in every truck accident case; however, they can often be named as additional defendants when the accident victim can show that there was some negligence on the employer’s part, or the truck driver was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. This may also be appropriate when the truck supplied by the employer had a dangerous defect, or the employer failed to conduct an adequate background check of the employee prior to hiring him.

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Earlier this month, a Georgia jury awarded a Louisiana woman $15 million in a truck accident lawsuit. According to a local news source reporting on the recently resolved case, the accident occurred back in April 2015 on a Georgia highway. Evidently, a car full of six nursing students on their way to a hospital rotation in Savannah was stopped in a long line of traffic when a semi-truck came from behind, slamming into them.

The truck was traveling at approximately 70 miles per hour and did not apply the brakes at all in the moments leading up to the crash. Five of the six people inside the car were killed. The families of the five deceased students filed wrongful death lawsuits against the driver of the truck as well as the trucking company that employed him. These lawsuits have all been settled out of court. However, the trucking company was unable to reach a settlement with the lone survivor, and that case went to trial.

At trial, the jury heard that the woman sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of the crash and suffers from ongoing anxiety. Her roommate told jurors that the woman “is scared to sleep alone because her dreams are so scary and she wakes up in a puddle of sweat” and that she is afraid to be alone.

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With their excessive length, heavy cargo, and long stopping distances, logging trucks are some of the most difficult to control, even compared to other large semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. Increasing the danger, logging trucks often drive on small rural roads on their way to pick up and drop off their cargo. It is for this reason that logging truck drivers need to be properly trained and vetted by their employers.

Most people are familiar with the fact that a negligent driver can be held liable for any injuries that are caused by their dangerous driving. What is less known, however, is that a commercial driver’s employer may also be held liable if it can be shown that the driver did not possess the adequate training, experience, or support to safely operate their vehicle. In some cases, trucking companies will even encourage their employees to “bend” the rules and stay out on the road longer than is legally permissible.

In fact, whether or not it is explicitly stated, almost all truck drivers are financially incentivized to drive longer and rest less. This is because most drivers are paid per mile, rather than per hour. Thus, the more miles covered in a day, the higher the driver’s take-home pay.

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Truck drivers have always been under constant pressure to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. And the fact that some truck drivers push their physical limits to make better time and increase their profits is nothing new. However, after actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured in a truck accident in New Jersey last year, truck driver fatigue has finally gotten the attention it deserves.

Resting Requirements for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers all must abide by certain state and federal regulations when it comes to how much time they spend resting and how much time they spend out on the road. The nuances of the rules are confusing, but suffice it to say that drivers need to take short breaks every few hours to rest their eyes, as well as longer breaks every few days to “reset” their system between long hauls.

To enforce these requirements, state and federal governments require that truck drivers maintain logs of their driving and rest times. These “rest logs,” however, have historically been the focus of some controversy because they can easily be changed or forged.

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Earlier this month in Wachapreague, Virginia, one man was killed as he was being transported to the hospital in an ambulance when the vehicle he was being transported in struck a bus. According to one local news source, the ambulance had its lights and sirens on when the accident occurred.

Evidently, the 38-year-old driver of the ambulance failed to obey a traffic signal and entered the intersection without checking if it was clear, striking a transit bus. After the collision, the ambulance lost control and rolled several times before coming to a rest.

The 60-year-old man being transported in the back of the ambulance died from the injuries he sustained in the accident. There were no passengers on the bus, and the bus driver was uninjured. The driver of the ambulance and two emergency responders who were also in the ambulance suffered minor injuries but are expected to make a full recovery.

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Earlier this month near Wye Mills, an accident between a 2006 Suzuki Forenza and a tractor-trailer resulted in four fatalities in the same family, including a pregnant woman. According to a report by one local news source, the accident occurred on Route 50 in Queen Anne’s County around 1:15 in the morning.

The wreckage was so bad that police do not know exactly what happened. However, it seems that the family was in the Suzuki heading westbound on Route 50. As they approached the intersection with Route 213, the semi-truck, which was traveling southbound on Route 213, struck the side of the family’s vehicle. Both vehicles traveled across the intersection before the semi-truck overturned on top of the Suzuki.

Tragically, all five of the occupants in the Suzuki died of injuries they sustained in the accident. Four of the passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. A 30-year-old pregnant woman was transported to Easton Memorial Hospital, where both the woman and her unborn child were pronounced dead by hospital staff.

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Earlier this month in Hollywood, Maryland, police and rescue workers responded to calls of an overturned box truck on the side of the highway. According to a report by one local news source, the accident occurred on Three Notch Road, a bit north of Airport View Drive, in Hollywood.

Evidently, the driver of the truck told responding authorities that there was some kind of mechanical failure that forced the truck off the road. Luckily, there were no other vehicles involved in the accident, and no one was seriously injured as a result of the truck overturning. It is unclear if the driver of the truck was cited for any traffic violation.

Overturned Trucks

One of the many dangers of large trucks is their propensity to flip over easily. It appears from the driver’s statement in the accident above that mechanical failure was responsible for the roll-over in that case. However, there are myriad other reasons that a truck may roll over, including:

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Earlier last month in Hagerstown, a three-vehicle accident was caused when a semi-truck rear-ended a car, causing it to lose control. According to a report by WUSA 9, the accident occurred on Interstate 70 eastbound at Route 66, near exit 35.

Evidently, a 2005 Volvo tractor-trailer was heading eastbound on I-70 when it rear-ended a 2003 Mercury Sable, causing the driver to lose control of the car. As the Mercury was careening out of control, it flipped over. The truck, also losing control, ended up in the far right lane of travel on I-70, where it hit a minivan. The truck then finally came to a stop.

Both the driver of the truck and the driver of the minivan were taken to the Mertius Medical Center with serious injuries. The passenger in the minivan was also taken to the hospital. All are expected to recover.

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