Court Discusses Summary Judgment Standard in Recent Truck Accident Case

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.

The 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.

The truck driver filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant motorist, arguing that she was negligent in failing to maintain a proper lookout. The defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that there was no evidence on the record indicating that she was negligent in any way.

The court agreed with the defendant and dismissed the truck driver’s lawsuit. The court explained that in order for a negligence case to be submitted to a jury, the plaintiff must present some evidence of each of the claim’s elements. Here, the court explained, there was no evidence that the defendant breached a duty of care she owed to the plaintiff. The court rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that the defendant was negligent in not slowing down after seeing the parked cars on the side of the road. The court explained that the plaintiff presented no evidence that had the plaintiff slowed down, she would have been able to avoid the collision. The court indicated that the plaintiff needed to establish how long the bull was in the road. If, for example, the bull just jumped out in front of the defendant’s car, she would not be held liable regardless. However, if the bull was stationary at the time of the collision, the defendant may be liable. Here, there was no evidence at all indicating how long the bull had been present on the highway. As a result, the court explained, the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled Maryland personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience assisting clients with a wide range of Maryland personal injury cases, including truck accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Truck Accident Case Dismissed Due to Plaintiff’s Late Disclosure of Expert Testimony, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published November 24, 2017.

Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed for Failure to Comply with Discovery Deadlines, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 5, 2017.

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