Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important issue for many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs. The case arose after a truck accident in which the plaintiff, a woman originally from Mexico without a valid work permit for the United States, was injured in an accident with a truck driver. The case required the court to discuss whether the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial after defense counsel made several veiled comments regarding the plaintiff’s immigration status.

Semi-TruckThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when the defendant truck driver made an allegedly improper lane change into the plaintiff’s vehicle. Many facts in the case were contested, with the plaintiff and defendant each maintaining different stories of how the accident occurred.

As a part of the plaintiff’s case, she had a medical expert testify regarding her injuries and what treatment she would likely need in the future, as well as the cost of that treatment. During cross-examination of that witness, defense counsel asked the expert if he was aware if the plaintiff was going to “move back” to Mexico. Defense counsel made another reference to the fact that the plaintiff spoke primarily Spanish and only limited English.

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The chances are that anyone who has spent much time driving on Maryland’s highways has seen the remnants of an improperly secured load of cargo lying on the side of the highway. Often, a driver may not notice that they have lost part of their load, or the driver may make the conscious decision to keep on moving to avoid the hazard and potential liability from trying to remove the spilled cargo from the highway.

Cement PipesWhatever the cause may be, spilled cargo can easily result in a serious Maryland traffic accident. Indeed, the American Automobile Association estimates that there are over 200,000 accidents each year caused by road debris, including approximately 500 fatalities. This figure includes accidents that are caused by the ubiquitous remains of shredded tires resulting from semi-truck tire blowouts.

Most of the time, spilled cargo falls from vehicles with open-air beds, such as pick-up trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, and garbage trucks. But on occasion, a semi-truck driver fails to properly secure the rear doors, and cargo can spill out the back of the truck. In any event, a driver who fails to properly secure their load can be held liable for any injuries caused as a result of the spillage. A truck driver may also be liable if the remnants from their shredded tire cause an accident, but locating the owner of such remnants often proves to be difficult.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the type of evidence that Maryland truck accident victims must present in order to defeat a defense motion for summary judgment. The case presented an interesting, albeit unusual, set of facts in which a motorist struck a bull that had gotten loose and wandered onto the highway. The court ultimately determined that summary judgment in favor of the motorist was appropriate because there was no evidence indicating how long the bull had been in the road.

BullThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was driving a semi-truck eastbound on a highway when he was struck by the defendant, who had been traveling westbound on the same highway. The collision occurred at night. Immediately prior to the collision, the defendant struck a bull that had wandered onto the highway. This caused the defendant to lose consciousness, resulting in her car drifting into oncoming traffic, where it hit the plaintiff’s truck.

There was evidence presented that the bull had been on the loose for several hours and that a team of people had been looking for it the whole time. Several members of the search team had parked their cars along the east side of the highway. There was also a police car parked on the east side of the highway. The plaintiff testified that she did not recall seeing the cars on the side of the highway. It was established that, at the time of the collision, the plaintiff was traveling under the posted speed limit and had the vehicle’s headlights on.

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When someone is injured in a Maryland car accident that is allegedly caused by the negligent act of a government employee, the injured party may have a claim for damages against both the government employee as well as the government entity itself. However, issues of government immunity often come up in these cases.

Fire TruckEarlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion in a case involving an accident between a fire truck and another passenger vehicle that required the court to determine whether governmental immunity applied. Finding that immunity did not apply, the court rejected the defendants’ asserted immunity and sent the case on toward trial or settlement negotiations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in an accident when he drove his truck into an intersection and collided with a fire truck. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the fireman as well as the city where the fireman was employed.

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When a motorist is involved in a Maryland car accident, the law requires that they remain on the scene and exchange certain information with the other people involved in the accident, including their name, address, and vehicle and insurance information. Additionally, if anyone was injured in the accident, the motorist must ensure the authorities are aware of the accident so that those who need medical assistance can obtain it.

Pedestrian CrossingA driver’s failure to remain on the scene following a Maryland auto accident can result in both civil and criminal liability. In the event that a driver is not located or has insufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the accident victim, the accident victim may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company under the policy’s underinsured motorist provision.

While insurance companies offer fair compensation in response to some claims, too often insurance companies try to evade responsibility by improperly denying a claim. In some situations in which the insurance company knows that it may be liable if the case goes to trial, the insurance company may offer a low-ball settlement offer early in the process in hopes of settling the case cheaply. In any event, Maryland accident victims should not take the insurance company at its word and should retain their own Maryland personal injury attorney to assist them with their claim.

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It should come as no surprise that Maryland truck accidents involving large commercial trucks carry the potential to cause major destruction. This is especially the case when the accident involves multiple vehicles or takes place on a crowded highway. Indeed, some of the most devastating Maryland truck accidents involve chain-reaction collisions that begin with one vehicle but end up affecting many others.

Evening City-Scape Determining which driver is responsible in multi-vehicle accidents can be a difficult task, and it is often left up to the courts to decide. Generally speaking, all of the parties who believe they are entitled to compensation will file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries. In chain-reaction car accidents, this usually results in all of the parties involved in the accident being named in the lawsuit. From there, a jury will hear the evidence from each party and come to a determination regarding each party’s respective percentage of fault.

In Maryland personal injury cases, courts apply a very strict rule when determining which parties in an accident are permitted to recover compensation for their injuries. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, any party who is even the slightest bit at fault for an accident will not be permitted to recover compensation from any other person involved in the accident. This stands true even if a plaintiff is determined to be just 5% at fault. Thus, the importance of a thorough investigation and diligent preparation cannot be overstated.

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Truck drivers have a lot of responsibility when operating large commercial vehicles across the nation’s highways. They must ensure that they remain alert during their trip, follow all posted traffic signs, and stay very aware of their surroundings, due to the significant blind spots most large trucks have. These difficulties are only compounded when inclement weather rolls in. Indeed, the number of Maryland truck accidents spikes during the winter months, when road conditions are most compromised. Often, weather-related truck accidents are caused in part by unexpected or otherwise dangerous road conditions. However, truck driver error also plays a role in most weather-related truck accidents.

Icy RoadTruck drivers are responsible to account for the current weather and road conditions when operating their rig. This may mean pulling off to the side of the road during an especially bad snowstorm or traveling below the posted speed limit. When a truck driver fails to take these additional precautions, it is not just the weather that is to blame but also the truck driver.

Those injured in a Maryland truck accident have the ability to file a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against the allegedly negligent driver and, in many cases, against the driver’s employer as well.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued an interesting opinion in a truck accident case that required the court to determine if the company that employed a truck driver who was responsible for a serious accident could be liable for punitive damages. Ultimately, the court concluded that under some other set of facts, punitive damages may be appropriate, but, given the facts presented in this specific case, they were not.

Trucker's ViewThe Facts of the Case

In 2014, the plaintiffs were driving through a construction zone on Interstate 14 when they were struck by a truck. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the trucking company that employed the driver, arguing that the company was liable for the driver’s actions because he was an employee working within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that the company was negligent for hiring the truck driver in the first place, given the driver’s checkered past. The plaintiffs sought punitive damages on each claim.

In support of their negligent hiring claim, the plaintiffs introduced evidence that the truck driver had previously been convicted of drug offenses and had a significant history of traffic offenses. There was also a report that the truck driver had been found to be traveling at 99 miles per hour while on the job just a week prior to the accident.

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Large trucks are made to bring goods across the country, and as a result, they are specifically designed to carry large amounts of cargo on the nation’s highways. However, at the beginning and end of a truck driver’s journey, he or she will at some point have to drive on smaller surface streets.

Going to SchoolDriving on small city streets can present difficulties for many truck drivers, whose rigs may be upwards of 70 feet long and may consist of several trailers being towed by a single truck. For example, many city intersections are much smaller than truck drivers are used to navigating, and they may require special maneuvers to safely negotiate them. In addition, the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists presents additional hazards that truck drivers must take precautions to avoid.

Despite the additional difficulties of driving on smaller roads, truck drivers remain responsible for safely operating their vehicles and may be held liable when they cause an accident on city streets. Of course, some accidents may be unavoidable even with the exercise of due caution, and truck drivers are not likely to be responsible for these. However, when a truck driver’s negligence or inexperience results in an accident, the truck driver – and potentially their employer – may be held liable for any injuries that result.

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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.

TruckWhen 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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