Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the defendant power company voluntarily assumed a duty to provide adequate light for the section of road where a semi-truck struck the plaintiff. Ultimately, the court concluded that the power company assumed no such obligation, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.
The case is important for Maryland truck accident victims because, although the plaintiff was ultimately unsuccessful in holding the power company liable, it illustrates the principle that there may be parties other than the driver who can be held responsible in a Maryland truck accident. In fact, many Maryland truck accident cases are pursued against the employer of the truck driver, the owner of the truck, or an insurance company.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff set out to go to a convenience store that was located across a four-lane highway with a center median. The plaintiff was crossing from the west side of the road to the east side when she stopped in the center lane to let traffic pass. As she was waiting, a semi-truck struck her, as well as the two others who were with her.
Evidently, there were street lights only on the west side of the street. After the accident, it was discovered that a nearby streetlight “went on and off at times.” The state’s department of transportation investigated the area and determined that there was insufficient lighting during evening hours.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the power company, claiming that it was negligent in failing to sufficiently light the roadway. The plaintiff argued that by installing street lights on the west side of the street, the power company assumed a duty to provide adequate light of the roadway. The plaintiff went on to argue that the power company breached this duty because the streetlight near where the accident occurred worked only sporadically and that there were no streetlights on the east side of the road.
The court, however, disagreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The court initially explained that as a general rule utility companies do not have a duty to provide light. However, the court acknowledged that a utility company could, in theory, assume a duty voluntarily. However, under these facts, the court determined that the power company did not assume a duty to the plaintiff.
The court explained that the power company did nothing to make the roadway more dangerous, and that the power company had no control over the physical condition of the roadway. The court explained that, had the power company caused damage to the road or some other physical condition, then it may have assumed a duty to the plaintiff. However, the court drew a bright line rule that the provision of light over a roadway will not be the basis of a negligence lawsuit.
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 injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing injury victims and their families in all types of Maryland truck accident cases. We know where to look for liability, including employers, insurers, and other potentially liable third parties. To learn more about how we can help you pursue compensation for the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
What Is an Insurance Guaranty and How It Can Help Maryland Accident Victims Recover for Their Injuries?, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 17, 2018.
Liability in Maryland School Bus Accidents, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 3, 2018.