What Should Drivers Know About Truck Accidents in Maryland?
Truck accidents can be deadly and cause quite a lot of damage. Large trucks are heavy, have large engines, and are carrying heavy loads. It is difficult to drive a large truck because it does not maneuver like a car, and it is important for other drivers on the road to be as careful as possible around these vehicles.
Approximately 600 people die in motor vehicle accidents in Maryland every year. We understand that drivers want to be as careful as possible, but they cannot avoid every crash. It is reported that 11 percent of these deadly accidents involve large trucks, and we want our clients to recover the compensation they deserve if they are involved in such an accident.
The Maryland truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can provide clients with the support they need. We can build a case for all our clients, ensure that our clients understand the legal process, and represent anyone who has lost a loved one in a trucking accident.
Why Do Clients Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Those who have been involved in large truck accidents need a lawyer to help them with litigation. A family could have lost a loved one or they might encounter issues with injuries, lost jobs, or lost salary. We also understand that many of our clients do not know how the legal system in Maryland works. Maryland is one of the few states that uses contributory negligence to settle accident and injury cases. We have experience that helps us give our clients the advice they need.
Our lawyers are experienced negotiators, and we can help settle a case when possible. We have no trouble going to court when we believe we have a winning case. Our clients will receive the most vigorous representation possible, and we will stay with our clients through appeals and issues with disability or insurance claims. We are willing to fight against insurance companies that will not cover their customers properly, and we will investigate every case to learn how the accident occurred. We will review police reports, call in eyewitnesses, and do anything that needs to be done to show that our clients are completely innocent, deserve compensation, or have been mistreated after the accident.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) stated that injuries and fatalities in large truck crashes tend to occur to those outside of the truck. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and car drivers or passengers are more likely to be injured in these crashes. Although the rate of fatal crashes per 100,000 people in Maryland is 11 percent, it is still too high.
Truck accidents could involve several levels of liability, and it is important for accident victims to work with a truck accident lawyer on how to navigate the legal process. There are times when the driver, their employer, or someone else is liable for the crash. We ask that our clients come to us immediately for help instead of contacting the insurance company, the driver, or their employer. We will handle all communication during the case and investigate who was liable for the accident. Although our clients are victims of the crash, they may not have all the facts.
Large trucks may also be involved in multiple vehicle crashes, and that can complicate liability for everyone involved. A large truck may have started a crash that involved several vehicles, and that large truck will be held responsible for all damage that was caused in the accident. We will help determine if the driver or the trucking company can be held liable, and if their insurance company will be asked to pay for the damages.
How is Fault Established in a Trucking Accident?
A truck accident lawyer will work hard to determine who is at fault for a crash. Truck accidents can be complex because there are many rules and regulations regarding how trucks are handled. Also, large trucks are managed by many different people and/or entities during the day. The following people or entities may have caused an accident:
Truck driver: The driver can easily be blamed for an accident because they must follow several rules and regulations. Truck drivers must inspect their brakes every day and report any malfunctions on their vehicles. These drivers must take rest periods between their shifts and should not be speeding, driving wildly, or mismanaging their loads.
Truck driver’s employer: The employer likely owns the truck, and that company may not have managed the truck or the driver properly. For example, a driver who was forced to drive long routes with short rest periods may have been ordered to do so by their employer. Some drivers work in fear of losing their jobs if they do not move quickly enough.
An employer can also be held liable for violating federal regulations or improperly maintaining the vehicle. The company might know the truck is not in good condition but send the driver out irrespective of the situation. Dispatchers may also order drivers to push through bad weather or take alternate routes that are dangerous.
Truck leasing company: Leasing companies are responsible for caring for their trucks. These companies might make unreasonable demands of drivers or clients, and the leasing company could be held liable if they force workers to make poor decisions.
Mechanics: Personnel who do not service trucks properly or use improper parts should be held liable for an accident they have caused. It is important that drivers, leasing agencies, and vendors keep a service record for each vehicle. These service records can be traced back to the faulty parts and the mechanic who used them.
Truck loading crews: These members may be held accountable if the load was not managed properly. A truck or trailer should be loaded properly and checked regularly. We can trace the shifting load back to the crew or driver who did not balance the load.
Manufacturers: If a manufacturer of truck parts has hidden a recall or knowingly sold faulty parts, they should be held liable. These companies may not realize that the parts were faulty, but they can be held liable if we show that their parts caused the crash and damages involved.
Government agencies: Work crews may create obstacles on the road that are impossible to avoid. For example, a construction crew may have made a road too narrow for a large truck to navigate. When that truck strikes another vehicle, the truck driver is not at-fault. Construction crews may have distracted the driver, left out barriers, or improperly repaired the road.
Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents occur under a variety of circumstances. Drivers should be careful when getting on the road because these situations could present themselves at any time. The following are common types of truck accidents:
- Jackknifing accidents: A truck jackknifes when the cab of a truck is moving one way and the trailer is sliding sideways. A driver could have been cut off or swerved during an emergency stop. This type of accident can strike several cars in the process. Although this can be a terrifying situation, the truck driver has no control over the truck. The trailer could even begin to slide past the cab of the truck and detach from it entirely.
- Sideswipes: When drivers are moving recklessly around large trucks, they could change lanes and slide under the trailer. In like manner, a truck driver could change lanes suddenly. In the process, another vehicle could be forced under the trailer.
- Rear-end accidents: Rear-end accidents are especially troublesome for small vehicles that are tailgating large trucks. A vehicle could be stuck under the tailgate of a large truck during a rear-end crash. If a small vehicle cuts off a large truck, a rear-end crash could be fatal. These accidents are even more common on hills or roads with steep inclines. A truck driver who is forced to ride their brakes while a smaller vehicle drives slowly could lose all braking power. The brakes will overheat, and the truck will not be able to stop.
- Blind spot crashes: Blind spot crashes can occur for a few instances. A truck driver might not see a car stuck in their blind spot. These crashes are also common when truck drivers try to make turns. The trailer will cut off the turn, and a car could be struck in the process.
- Load spills and tip overs: A load can spill if it is not restrained properly. These loads are often sitting in the open on a trailer. Examples include lumber, piping, and large vehicles or tires. A loading crew may not have balanced the load, or the driver might not have rearranged the load after it shifted.
Car drivers must do all they can to avoid these accidents, but remain as careful as possible. Owing to the nature of large trucks and their loads, truck drivers should be especially cautious when making sudden moves on the road. Generally, a truck driver should slow down when changing lanes and avoid any aggressive drivers they encounter. Truck drivers should also be aware of any odd sounds they hear. If the brakes are squeaking, the driver should pull over. When the driver hits the brakes on a slick road, the driver can hear the truck sliding and feel the truck shift. A careful driver should pull over and avoid all dangerous situations.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents are caused by a variety of instances for which car and truck drivers should be aware. Although car drivers can cause accidents, truck drivers should be held to a higher standard for their driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules indicate how drivers should manage their vehicles. Even so, the following causes of trucking accidents could present themselves at any time:
Drowsy driving: This is a common issue among truck drivers who are on long hauls. Drivers are required to take breaks between their shifts, but that does not mean that they will rest as long as they should. Their employers may force them to get back on the road too soon. Drivers with sleeper cabs can pull over and nap if needed, and there are truck stops all over America where drivers can rest, take a shower, and have something to eat or drink. Although drivers have rules that dictate their rest periods, they should rest more when needed.
Drunk driving: Impaired driving can occur when truck drivers believe they can safely drive after having only a few drinks. These drivers can cause injuries or deaths because they are impaired. Drivers may also be under the influence of illegal substances that will cause impairment on the road. Drivers must adjust their habits to ensure that they are driving safely.
Speeding: This plays a heavy part in many accidents, and large truck drivers often drive faster because they want to get to their destination as fast as possible. Although these drivers know that they should not be speeding, they often believe they have no choice. Other drivers might also drive too fast around large trucks. This kind of reckless driving can cause truck drivers to take evasive maneuvers and cause a crash. Speeding can cause the trailer to detach from the truck, the door could fall open, or the load could be detached.
Poor weather conditions: Weather conditions cannot always be avoided, but truck drivers should pull over the moment they believe they cannot drive safely. Car drivers should also be careful in bad weather because they could swerve and cause a crash. Snow, rain, and wind can cause problems for drivers, and large trucks can slip on rain or ice that might be hidden under snow. Additionally, a massive gust of wind can knock over a trailer that is light or imbalanced.
Distracted driving: This is common among large truck drivers because they are taking directions from dispatchers, possibly checking their phones, and talking on the radio. Distracted driving might also cause car drivers to cut off large trucks or crash into them. Distracted driving should be eliminated using a hands-free system.
Big rigs: Big rigs drive through the state every day, and they could be involved in accidents because they are difficult to drive and maneuver. Drivers should remember that handling a large truck is more challenging than driving a car. Also, an imbalanced load or a poor driver can easily cause an accident.
Boat haulers: Boat haulers are to be avoided because most boat hauling rigs use a small rig to carry a large boat. These vehicles must be driven carefully as these trucks cannot make evasive moves like they normally would. Car drivers should move away from these trailers to avoid crashes. Because Maryland has a long coastline, boat haulers are seen frequently.
Cargo trucks: Cargo trucks are commonly seen throughout Maryland. These trucks might hold loose cargo that is hardly restrained, or these cargo trucks might carry large vehicles that need to be moved from one location to another. Such vehicles cannot be driven to a new location; they must be hauled. Drivers should proceed slowly around these rigs.
Cement trucks: Cement trucks are popular in the construction industry. Motorists should avoid these trucks as they enter the road because they may need to enter the highway at a construction site or pull off the highway where construction is ongoing. If these trucks are driving with their hazard lights on, it is best to slow down or pass them safely.
Construction vehicles: Construction vehicles carry supplies or haul machines carefully, even in heavy traffic. Drivers should avoid these trucks to make sure that crashes do not occur, and it is best not to cut them off. Drivers of these vehicles may not handle their loads properly or may carry a loose load that could fall out.
Coal trucks: Coal trucks are still in use in Maryland, and these trucks often allow silt or debris to fly out of the loading bay. Drivers should avoid these vehicles to prevent their windshield from being covered in a black dust.
Crabbing Trucks: Crabbing trucks come through Maryland every day because the fishermen that depend on the crabbing industry must transport crabs to vendors. Drivers of crabbing trucks may believe that they need to move as fast as possible because their product is fresh. Drivers should not cut off these trucks because many of them are old and difficult to manage.
Box Trucks: Box trucks are commonly used throughout the state, and people who drive them should be especially careful. Box trucks are popular for local deliveries, but they are often difficult to drive. A delivery driver who typically drives a car may not know how to maneuver properly, and they could crash or tip over a large box truck. Additionally, these drivers could strike pedestrians or scrape other vehicles as they drive by.
Dump Trucks: Dump trucks should be avoided at all times. Car drivers often do not know what is in the dump truck, and the driver cannot prevent items, such as rocks and debris, from flying out of the truck. A large rock could seriously injure or even kill another driver, and a load that is not properly tethered could slide onto the road, causing an accident.
Fuel Tankers: Fuel tankers might spill their fuel, ignite, or even explode during a crash. Fuel tankers need as much space as drivers can provide, and they should not be forced to make emergency stops. If a driver notices a truck that is leaking, they should alert local authorities immediately.
Garbage Trucks: Garbage trucks should be avoided as much as possible. Drivers should not pass these vehicles recklessly, and it is important to look for any garbage collectors who are getting on and off the truck during each stop.
Logging Trucks: Logging trucks often have a load that is hanging off the back with a small flag attached. Drivers should look out for these trucks because the logs could fall off. Logging trucks should be managed by professional drivers who ensure their loads are secured properly.
Steel Carriers: Steel carriers are set up just like logging trucks. The steel rods, bars, or pipes should be strapped down securely. A driver or trucking company that does not manage the vehicle properly can be held liable for the loss of the load and any injuries or deaths that result from the crash.
Moving Trucks: Moving trucks are often big rigs made especially for moving. These moving trucks might also haul vehicles and drive slowly. It is important not to cut off or tailgate these trucks because they cannot make emergency stops or drive quickly.
Tow Trucks: Tow trucks are designed to turn and maneuver safely while hauling other vehicles, but they cannot make emergency stops. Drivers of tow trucks might be too reckless while trying to get to their next destination.
How can I Recover Damages?
When we aim to recover damages for our clients, we must calculate the damages based on the following factors:
- Lost wages
- Lost earnings or earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
When someone has been injured in a crash, we want to ensure that that victim can pay their medical bills. We will also petition for damages if the victim missed work or can no longer obtain gainful employment. We will request damages for pain and suffering and ask the court to award punitive damages to punish the guilty driver. We will also file wrongful death claims when an accident has killed a loved one. All claims must be filed within three years of the accident or death, and we ask that accident victims reach out to us immediately.
Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Victims Injured in All Types of Truck Accidents
Speak to the Maryland truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today if you were injured in a truck accident. All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing for our services or expenses until we win your case. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.