In Maryland truck accident cases, the plaintiff must be able to establish each of the elements of their claim in order to be successful. Simply stated, these elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the causation element of a negligence lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s case should proceed toward trial based on the fact that the defendant truck driver created a substantial risk of harm to the plaintiff when he parked on the side of the highway.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was traveling on the highway shortly before 7:00 a.m. when he approached a semi-truck that had been parked on the side of the road. The truck, which was occupied by the defendants, was parked in the emergency lane, about ten inches away from the nearest lane of travel.
For unknown reasons, the plaintiff’s vehicle left its lane of travel and collided with the rear of the defendants’ semi-truck. The plaintiff was immediately killed in the accident, and his estate filed a personal injury lawsuit against the truck drivers.
The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, acknowledging that the truck was illegally parked, but argued that the plaintiff failed to prove that the act of parking the truck on the side of the highway caused the plaintiff to lose control of his vehicle. The trial court agreed and granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed.
The Appellate Decision
The court reversed the decision below, holding that the lower court applied the wrong standard in determining whether the plaintiff met the causation requirement. The court explained that issues of causation are generally reserved for the jury, and only when there is a complete lack of evidence is summary judgment appropriate. The court also explained that in a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff was not required to prove that the defendant’s actions caused him to leave the road, but whether their actions were a “substantial factor in bringing about his injuries.”
The court held that, had the defendants’ truck not been parked on the side of the highway, it may have been that the plaintiff’s vehicle would have briefly drifted off the side of the road and then immediately returned without incident. Thus, the court held that the presence of the defendants’ truck very well could have been a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff’s case will be permitted to proceed towards trial or settlement negotiations.
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 dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing injury victims in all types of accident cases, including Maryland truck accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to speak with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Award in Bus Accident Case Based on Improper Jury Instruction, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 19, 2018.
Court Upholds Substantial Jury Verdict in Recent Truck Accident Case, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published July 4, 2018.