To be sure, truck drivers have difficult jobs. Typically, they drive for long hours at a time, many days in a row. Because of this, they may get distracted, restless, fatigued, or careless while driving, causing them to make mistakes and potentially cause an accident. Because of the sheer size of most trucks, accidents involving these vehicles are some of the most dangerous to Maryland drivers. When driving near a truck, it is impossible to know if the truck driver is exhausted, paying attention, or how many hours they have been driving without resting. Because of this, drivers are always encouraged to be on high alert and as careful as possible when driving, especially near trucks, to try and minimize the risk of a Maryland truck accident.

The federal government has also taken steps to decrease the number of truck accidents across the nation. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has promulgated regulations that limit how many hours truck drivers can drive each day. Property-carrying drivers (those carrying goods and materials, as opposed to passenger-carrying drivers) can only drive 11 hours within a 14-hour period. This 14-hour period must only start after the driver has been off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. It is important to note that the 11 hours cannot be consecutive: drivers cannot drive more than 8 hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Additionally, the regulations place a limit in how many hours a driver can work each week—if a driver has been “on-duty” for over 70 hours in the past 8 days, or 60 hours in the past 7 days, they cannot drive any more until that is no longer the case. A driver can “reset” the 7- or 8-day period by taking 34 or more hours off.

These regulations are put in place for drivers’ safety, and to minimize the occurrence of truck accidents across the United States. However, truck accidents do still occur, and when they do, people may be injured or even killed. Maryland state law allows those injured in these instances to file a civil negligence suit against the driver—if they were being careless or made a mistake that led to the crash, they can be held liable and ordered to pay monetary damages to cover the resulting harm. Importantly, if a driver was violating the hour of service regulations described above, a plaintiff’s case against them may be more straight-forward, since the defendant was clearly violating federal regulations.

If a defective product is to blame in a Maryland truck accident, a party may be able to bring a product liability claim against the responsible party. A party may be at fault for defective brakes, steering, or another component in a motor vehicle accident if the defect contributed to the accident victim’s injuries.

A Maryland product liability case allows a successful plaintiff to recover monetary compensation for injuries the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defective product. In a Maryland product liability case, a plaintiff generally must show that the product was defective when it left the defendant’s control, that there was not a substantial change in the condition of the product from the time between when it left the defendant’s control and when it reached the consumer, that the product was unreasonably dangerous, and that the defect in the product caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Those who have been injured by a defective product understand that holding the company responsible for causing or allowing the defect is one of the most critical parts of a product liability case, so that others will be protected. If a defective product is to blame for an accident, a plaintiff usually can bring a claim against the manufacturer, along with anyone else in the chain of distribution. If the defect arose from a defect in the design or in the manufacturing process, a plaintiff may be able to bring a claim against the manufacturer and/or designer. A plaintiff generally will be able to sue the party that sold the defective product. In the case of a defective car, this would often be the dealer that sold the vehicle. If a driver knowingly drove a defective car, the driver may also be at fault. It may also be that another party is responsible altogether, such as a car repair shop that made a faulty repair.

A tragic accident has highlighted a sobering truth for Maryland drivers: you never know when catastrophe might hit. A 62-year-old man was killed on April 17th when a semi-truck attempted an unsafe pass. According to a local news report covering the incident, the victim was driving his tractor around 8 a.m. on a Friday morning when a semi-truck, driven by a 43-year-old man, attempted to pass him. The tractor then made a left turn into the driveway and was rear-ended by the semi-truck. This accident left the tractor driver dead.

Although most truck operators drive safely, it is inevitable that when trucks pass other vehicles there is an increased chance of an accident. While passing, in general, can always be risky, trucks are an increased risk because they cannot drive over a certain speed and because of their large size, which blocks other vehicles from passing or merging for a time. Truck drivers, therefore, must be very careful when passing, because they could be held liable in a civil negligence suit if they make an unsafe pass that results in an accident.

If an accident does occur, those injured have a path to recovery under Maryland law. Generally, the plaintiff will need to prove four things. First, that the defendant owed a duty of care to drive and pass carefully. This is generally established if the defendant was operating a truck on the highway. Second, that the defendant breached their duty of care. Usually, proving this involves expert testimony and accident reconstructionists, who explain how the defendant acted carelessly or why they should not have attempted to pass when they did. Third, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s unsafe pass was the proximate cause of the accident. For example, if the driver made an unsafe pass three minutes before the accident occurred, the driver may be able to argue that their unsafe pass did not cause the accident. The final element a plaintiff must prove is that they suffered compensable damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Usually, this is proven through the introduction of medical records and expert witness testimony.

Every day, millions of students ride to and from school on school buses. While school buses are generally a safe option for children to get to school, they are not immune from getting into accidents. School buses, including those in Maryland, get into crashes on occasion, which can cause injuries to those on board. Those injured may be able to collect financially from the driver responsible for the accident. However, doing so often requires that the injury victim file a claim with the school district’s insurance company.

Generally, Maryland school buses all have some sort of insurance policy to protect them in case of an accident. This insurance likely includes what is called Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM. This coverage protects those who are hit by a negligent driver who does not have enough to financially cover the accident. For instance, if someone is riding in a school bus driven by driver A when driver B, in their car, hits the school bus, driver B may be liable to driver A and the passengers for their injuries. Let’s say these injuries total $300,000. Driver B might only have insurance coverage of up to $100,000, leaving them $200,000 short. Or, in some cases, driver B might not have insurance at all. In this instance, a plaintiff may want to try and recover against the school bus’s insurance provider using the UIM coverage provision of the policy. If the school bus has UIM coverage of up to $500,000, they may be able to pay what the responsible driver was unable to.

If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Maryland insurance laws can be difficult to understand, and insurance companies routinely reject claims for coverage in an attempt to limit their financial responsibility, meaning that cases like this may end up in court. For example, a state appeals court recently considered a case with a very similar fact pattern to the example laid out above. The victim was injured when a car hit the school bus she was driving in, but the car’s driver did not have enough to cover her injuries. The victim attempted to recover from the school bus’s insurance provider under their UIM coverage provision, but the insurance company refused to pay, insisting that the coverage was limited by statute, even though the contract said otherwise. The case had to go to court multiple times for the plaintiff to finally receive the compensation she deserved for her injuries.

Maryland truck accident cases are subject to the statute of limitations applicable in the case. The statute of limitations is the amount of time in which a lawsuit must be filed and varies based on the type of claim. Generally, under Maryland Code section 5-101, Maryland personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of three years. Typically, Maryland wrongful death claims also are subject to a three-year statute of limitations under Maryland Code section 3-904(g).

In general, statutes of limitations are strictly construed, and failing to file a claim within the allotted time will result in a dismissal of the claim. However, there are some exceptions. The statute may be tolled, for example, if the plaintiff if a minor or could not have known about the injury when it occurred.

In cases involving the city or state, additional requirements and limitations apply. For example, when filing a claim against the state under the Maryland Tort Claims Act, a claimant must submit a written claim with the State Treasurer within one year of the cause of action arising. The claim to the state also has to include a statement explaining the facts and specific damages alleged. In general, the case can be filed in court only after the Treasurer denies the claim. Filing a claim with the State Treasurer tolls the statute of limitations for 60 days after a final denial is made by the State Treasurer.

Typically, individuals are grateful when they see fire trucks on the roads, responding to emergencies and saving lives. Maryland firefighters are first responders to many emergencies and perform an essential governmental function. However, there may be tragic instances when fire trucks, speeding to get to a burning building, cause more harm than good and cause an accident.

A recent incident illustrates this point. Last month, a fire truck was responding to a call at around 8:15 in the evening when it hit a car. According to a local news report, this led to a multi-vehicle crash involving seven other vehicles and significant injuries. Two individuals were trapped inside of a car and had to be extracted, and six people were taken to local hospitals, two as trauma alerts. The nine-vehicle crash was so significant that all lanes of the road were closed in the aftermath. While the condition of those injured is still unknown, there are likely to be long-term severe injuries and medical bills as a result of this tragic accident.

While nothing can undo the damage that was done that evening, those who were injured in the incident may have a route to financial recovery. Under the Maryland Tort Claims Act, the state government, including the fire department, may be sued in personal injury lawsuits. If it was found that the firefighters driving the truck were acting negligently in some way that led to the accident, the injured victims might be able to recover for their injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills, each up to $400,000. However, successfully filing a personal injury suit against a government entity is difficult to do, with more procedural requirements and regulations than typical lawsuits against other civilians or private businesses.

Tragedy recently struck when a 32-year-old woman was instantly killed in a truck accident. According to a local news article covering the accident, the incident occurred when the victim, a 32-year-old woman, driving a Jeep failed to respond to oncoming traffic and ran directly into the rear of a semi-tractor trailer in front of her. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. While truck accidents occur all the time, this type of accident was a particular type called an “underride crash,” which can be especially fatal for Maryland residents.

An underride crash is a particular type of accident where a car slides underneath a large truck or semi-trailer. These crashes happen all across the country, including Maryland, and are often fatal, killing hundreds of people every year. While some large trucks have underride guards on them – large metal barriers at the back to stop vehicles from sliding under—research has found that these often fail to protect drivers. The guards tend to collapse and bend under when a car runs into them.

Congress has attempted to stop underride crashes. In March of 2019, the STOP Underrides Bill was introduced into Congress, which would allow engineers to put more effective protections on every truck, helping to end preventable tragedies. However, the bill has not been passed. In fact, according to a petition supporting the bill, it’s been 22 years since the last underride regulation was passed. In that time, more than 4,000 people have died in these tragic accidents.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion raising an interesting issue discussing whether a vehicle owner has a duty to install brakes on their trailer. Ultimately, the court did not come to a definitive decision, and remanded the case for further consideration. However, the opinion provides insight into the court’s considerations.

According to the court’s opinion, a woman was asked by her father to transport a load of palm fronds using his truck and trailer. Originally, the woman’s father had planned on making the trip himself, but he was not feeling well on the day of the trip. The trailer was not equipped with brakes and was loaded past its capacity.

While the woman was transporting the load, traffic in front of her suddenly slowed. As the woman tried to brake, she realized she was not going to stop in time, so she swerved onto the shoulder. Unfortunately, as the vehicle entered the shoulder, it struck the plaintiff who was waiting for the bus.

Recently, three family members were killed in a truck accident while on vacation. This accident serves as a sobering reminder of how quickly Maryland truck accidents can change someone’s life in an instant. According to a local news report covering the tragic incident, the family of eight—two parents, two grandparents, and three children—were driving in a rental van on a Florida highway one day when traffic started to slow down. Then, for reasons still unknown to authorities, a truck suddenly rear-ended their vehicle, causing it to roll over and resulting in serious injuries. The truck also hit two other vehicles, but no one in either of those vehicles was seriously injured.

The three victims in the family van were a 41-year-old woman, her 5-year-old daughter, and her 76-year-old mother. The father, grandfather, and one of the other children were also injured and had to be hospitalized, with the 11-year-old child still in critical condition the next day. Authorities are still unsure why the truck did not stop but were able to determine through an investigation that the truck driver was at fault. The crash remains under investigation, and so it is not yet clear whether or not criminal charges will be filed. However, regardless of whether or not there are criminal charges, the surviving victims may be able to bring a claim on their behalf and on behalf of their deceased family members to recover some monetary compensation in the wake of this tragic accident.

If the plaintiffs are able to prove that the truck driver owed a duty of care to their loved ones, and that their loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s breach of that duty, they may be able to recover financial compensation for their losses. Depending on the specific facts of the case, this may include amounts for funeral and burial costs, past and future medical bills, psychiatric care needed to emotionally recover, lost wages, and general pain and suffering endured. While this monetary compensation will not undo the damage that has been done or bring back the loved ones, it may help the family by allowing them to not worry about finances in the aftermath of such a devastating tragedy.

Anytime a driver enters a Maryland highway, they usually share the road with one or more trucks. While most drives do not end in an accident, Maryland truck accidents do happen, and can cause serious injuries or even death to those involved. When someone is injured in one of these accidents, Maryland law allows a motorist to sue the negligent driver to recover for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Additionally, the state’s law allows injured victims to also bring suit against the negligent driver’s employer, if the driver was acting in the scope of his employment when the accident occured. For example, if a delivery driver runs a red light and gets into an accident while on his way to deliver a package, someone injured as a result may be able to sue both the driver and the company the driver works for.

However, there are strict limits and rules on when an employer can be held liable and when they cannot. Generally, the rule does not apply to independent contractors, as highlighted in a recent federal appellate case. According to the court’s written opinion, the defendant was driving a tractor-trailer to make a delivery in another state when the driver got into an accident, seriously injuring a mother and daughter inside another vehicle. The two victims filed suit, alleging that the driver had been negligent and that the two companies who he worked for were also liable, since he was acting in the scope of his employment when the accident occurred.

The companies filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that they could not be held liable because the driver was an independent contractor, not an actual agent of the company. The trial court granted the motion, leading to a subsequent appeal. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the driver was an employee and agent, but the court disagreed. Looking at the text of the contract between the driver and the companies, the court found that the companies did not have sufficient control over the driver to be held liable for his actions. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiffs could not seek compensation from the companies, and their suit could proceed only against the truck driver.

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