In order to successfully recover in a personal injury lawsuit after a Maryland truck accident, a plaintiff must prove that there was negligence on the part of the defendant. In everyday language, negligence just means failing to be careful. However, it is actually a fairly complicated legal term. In Maryland, personal injury lawsuits, proving negligence means proving four distinct elements: (1) duty; (2) breach; (3) causation; and (4) damages.
First, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant (usually the truck driver) owed a duty of care to the victim. Truck drivers—in fact, all Maryland drivers—owe a duty of care to others on the road or around them, including pedestrians, drivers of other vehicles, and cyclists. The duty of care means they must act reasonably carefully as to not injure others. The next step is proving that the defendant breached this duty. Here, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not act with reasonable care. Perhaps they were texting while driving, or ran a red light, or driving while intoxicated. All of these things could be sufficient to prove that the defendant breached their duty. Third, the plaintiff must connect this breach of duty to the accident. In other words, did the defendant’s breach cause the accident? If the defendant ran a red light, they might have breached their duty, but if the crash was caused three minutes later because of a brake failure, then the breach was not likely the cause of the accident. Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered damages as a result of the accident. This can be proved by submitting medical bills, or bringing an expert witness who can testify to the damage the plaintiff suffered.
In some cases, proving negligence can be pretty straightforward, as the facts of what happened are obvious, but it may be more difficult in other cases. Take, for example, a recent truck accident that occurred not on the highway, as many do, but at a truck stop. According to a local news article, the crash happened early one Thursday morning this month at a truck stop and service center off the highway. Many details are not known at this time, but a tractor-trailer struck a pedestrian, killing them. The accident is still under investigation by the state’s highway patrol. Because so few facts are known, and the victim of the accident was tragically killed, this is a perfect example of a case where proving negligence may be more difficult.