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The mass production of cars that are equipped with autopilot technology is now a reality. For the most part, the technology works well and is generally accepted to be safe. However, many are concerned that the increased prevalence of these vehicles will result in a spike in Maryland truck accidents.

In fact, earlier this month, another fatal collision involving a Tesla vehicle occurred on a Florida highway. According to a recent news report, the crash occurred when an eastbound semi-truck came to a stop at a stop sign. After the semi-truck entered the intersection in preparation to make a left-hand turn, a south-bound Tesla crashed into the side of the truck. Apparently, neither the car’s autopilot technology nor the driver of the Tesla saw the truck enter the highway.

The collision sheared the roof off of the Tesla, and the car continued in auto-pilot mode for another 500 yards before coming to a complete stop. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.

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Typically, when someone is injured in a Maryland truck accident, to successfully recover for their injuries, the accident victim must be able to establish that the driver violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, and that this violation was the cause of their injuries. In most cases, establishing that a duty was owed to an accident victim is straightforward because motorists owe all other motorists a duty of care to follow all traffic laws and safely operate their vehicle.

The determination of whether the defendant violated a duty that was owed to another driver, however, can be quite tricky in some circumstances. In fact, in many Maryland truck accident cases, this is the most contested issue because, although the standard is supposed to be an objective one, there is an element of subjectivity anytime a jury is asked to weigh in on another’s conduct.

Under the doctrine of negligence per se, however, if the defendant is found to have violated a qualifying statute, that defendant may be presumed to have been negligent. Thus, in these cases, courts look to the fact that the defendant violated a particular statute rather than try to determine whether the defendant breached a duty that was owed to the plaintiff. In other words, the law prescribes the defendant’s duty. This means that aside from showing the defendant violated the statute, the plaintiff must only show that the defendant’s violation of the statute was the proximate cause of their injuries.

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With the most recent storm, many areas in Maryland received several inches of snow. While many people were told not to come to work due to the weather, others did not have a choice and were forced to negotiate the dangerous conditions. Indeed, according to a recent report, in just a single five-hour period Maryland State Police responded to nearly 100 accidents and 70 reports of disabled or unattended vehicles. During that same period, Virginia police reported over 400 accidents.

While inclement weather affects all motorists, truck drivers are perhaps the most impacted. When road conditions are wet or slick, the inherent dangers of operating a large vehicle become heightened. For example, during inclement weather conditions, a truck driver’s visibility of the road ahead dramatically decreases. At the same time, the distance a truck needs to come to a complete stop increases significantly. Thus, unless a truck driver takes precautionary measures, the chance of the truck driver causing a Maryland weather-related truck accident greatly increases.

Maryland truck drivers, like all other drivers, have a duty to other motorists on the road. In addition to following all traffic laws and posted signage, this duty requires truck drivers to take the current weather conditions into account.

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When many people think of expert testimony, they envision a professor-like witness discussing complex scientific or medical issues in a Maryland medical malpractice case. However, expert witnesses may be used in all types of personal injury cases, including Maryland truck accident cases.

Under Maryland Code, Rule 5-702, expert testimony may be admitted when the proponent of the evidence can show that “the testimony will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” In a recent federal appellate case, the court determined that a state trooper properly testified as an expert witness.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts giving rise to the case, the plaintiff was a truck driver who was seriously burned after another truck driver inexplicably crossed over the center median and collided head-on with the plaintiff’s truck. The collision caused a major explosion, which resulted in the death of the at-fault truck driver as well as the plaintiff’s serious burns.

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an opinion in a Virginia train accident case involving an employee who was injured while working for the defendant railroad company. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of his injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that the jury’s verdict was supported by some evidence supporting a finding of causation, and the verdict was affirmed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff worked as a conductor for the defendant railroad. One day, the plaintiff was asked to help make a “cut,” which is when several of the cars in a train are released and left behind. The plaintiff completed the cut without issue; however, as the plaintiff was walking back to a nearby electrical box, he lost contact with the train’s engineer.

Evidently, the train’s engineer became worried after losing contact with the plaintiff and set out to see if anything was wrong. The engineer walked around to the rear of the train, and saw the plaintiff lying at the bottom of a 36-foot embankment. There were no witnesses to the plaintiff’s fall, and the plaintiff had no memory of the accident. The walkway where the plaintiff was when he fell was about 15 inches wide, and the embankment was approximately 70 degrees.

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Maryland railroad accidents are more common than most people believe. While trains are not as ubiquitous as they once were in the United States, there is still a significant amount of cargo that is transported across the country by train. In fact, it is estimated that there are about 150,000 miles of active train tracks in the U.S. Much of this track is concentrated around the eastern seaboard, making Maryland a hub for railroad activity.

In addition to active train tracks, there are tens of thousands of miles of unused or abandoned tracks. And while most intersections between train tracks and roads are marked with signage or gates, that is not always the case. This can create confusion for a motorist who may not know if railroad tracks are active. Of course, when a motorist encounters an unfamiliar intersection with railroad tracks, it is always best for that motorist to slow down and check both ways before proceeding across the tracks.

Determining who is at fault in a Maryland train accident can be tricky, and depends heavily on the circumstances of the accident. While not all intersections with railroad tracks are required to have flashing lights or lowering arms, all intersections should be marked appropriately. If gates or lights have been installed, however, they should be adequately maintained. Additionally, the area immediately around the railroad track should be clear of foliage and debris to allow motorists to see if a train is approaching.

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One of the most important issues in any Maryland personal injury case is determining which parties may be responsible for an accident victim’s injuries. This is especially important because accident victims typically only get one chance to bring their case, and if a potentially liable defendant is not named in a case the plaintiff may lose their ability to recover altogether.

In most Maryland truck accidents, certain parties should always be considered as potential defendants. For example, the person driving the truck, the owner of the truck, and the company that employed the truck driver are commonly named as defendants. However, there may be additional parties who are responsible for an accident victim’s injuries. A recent case discusses whether a mechanic was liable for injuries caused by a forklift.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was employed as a truck driver. The plaintiff parked his truck at his employer’s warehouse, and other employees began to unload the truck. As one of the other employees was using a forklift to unload the truck’s cargo, the driver ran over the plaintiff’s foot, resulting in serious injuries. The forklift was not manufactured with a back-up alarm, and did not have one installed at the time of the accident.

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One question that frequently comes up when discussing how a Maryland truck accident victim can recover for their injuries is whether the at-fault truck driver’s employer can also be held responsible. As is often the case with legal determinations, the answer depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the relationship between the parties.

Employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior. As a general matter, to establish an employer’s liability a plaintiff must show that the employee’s allegedly negligent actions were within the scope of their employment.

Under Maryland case law, courts look beyond the question of whether the employee’s actions occurred while the employee was working for the employer, and focus instead on whether the employee’s actions were in furtherance of the employer’s business. Simplified, courts look to whether the employee’s actions were incidental to their job. However, before courts get to this question the plaintiff must first establish that an employee/employer relationship existed. A recent case illustrates how this situation may arise.

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When most people think of a Maryland truck accident, they visualize images of an overturned semi-truck on the highway. Indeed, most Maryland truck accidents occur on the highway and these are the most often seen examples of truck accidents. However, there are many other types of truck accidents, including those involving construction vehicles, tow trucks, and other heavy equipment.

Most heavy equipment accidents involve the employees who are working around these dangerous machines and vehicles. Given the fact that the accident victims agree to work around these, certain issues arise that may not come up in traditional truck accident cases. A recent state appellate decision illustrates the scope of a release of liability waiver that was signed by an accident victim.

The Facts

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was injured while she was standing in a “non-spectator restricted area” on the Daytona International Speedway. Evidently, the plaintiff was standing in the pit-stop area while employees of the racetrack instructed a tow-truck to back-up. The employees gave the all-clear to the tow-truck driver, who backed up over the plaintiff.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important evidentiary concept that frequently arises in Maryland personal injury cases. The case required the court to determine whether evidence of the plaintiff’s mental health issues and intoxication should be admitted under the rules of evidence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed when she was struck by a truck that was driving at a low speed. The evidence was conflicting, but the ultimate issue in the case was whether the plaintiff walked out in front of the truck and, if so, whether the truck driver waved toward the plaintiff to go ahead of him.

The defense wanted to introduce evidence that the plaintiff suffered from mental health issues and had alcohol and drugs in her system at the time of the accident. The plaintiff objected, arguing that the proposed evidence was far more prejudicial than it was probative, and thus should be excluded.

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