Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers
Accidents involving commercial trucks can cause considerably more damage than a collision between two cars. The maximum allowed weight of a fully loaded tractor-trailer is 90,000 pounds, more than 20 times the weight of the average passenger vehicle. Trucks are harder to control and far more complex to maintain. As a result, tractor-trailers, big rigs, dump trucks, and other large trucks are involved in a larger percentage of fatal automobile accidents than motor vehicle collisions involving small cars. In fact, nearly 5,000 people died in the U.S. and another 80,000 were injured as a result of truck accidents in 2018 alone.
LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton represents individuals who were seriously injured or lost a loved one due to a truck accident. Our dedicated truck accident lawyers work diligently to assist injured victims with the legal challenges that arise in the aftermath of a serious trucking accident. We aggressively pursue justice and maximum financial compensation for our clients. Allowing us to help you can provide you and your family more time and energy focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
What Can Our Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers Do for You?
Our experienced truck accident lawyers can help ensure the best possible outcome for injured trucking accident victims by sharing our skill and experience in the following ways:
- We know the law. We possess in-depth understanding of state and federal truck accident laws, including federal regulations regarding Hours of Service (HOS) rules and driver logs.
- We are relentless. We aggressively pursue compensation if you or a member of your family has been seriously injured as a result of a truck driver’s or trucking company’s negligence.
- We are meticulous. We build strong cases designed to ensure drivers, trucking companies, and any other liable parties are held fully accountable for the consequences of their actions.
- We are savvy. We know the tactics insurance companies use to minimize the damages they must pay, and how to best combat them.
When we take your case, we act promptly to preserve critical evidence from the accident scene. We photograph the road conditions and collect copies of drivers’ logs, black box recordings, and other resources that may bolster your claim. Our lawyers have helped clients collect more than $100 million in compensation over the past 20 years.
Truck Accidents are More Complex Than Car Accidents
Although car accidents are more common than truck accidents in the state of Maryland, crashes involving large trucks are more than four times more likely to be fatal. Statistically, most of the serious injuries and fatalities happen not to truck drivers, but rather to pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and passengers in other vehicles, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In the state of Maryland, more than half of all truck accidents involve serious injuries. Unfortunately, the number of truck accidents in Maryland is increasing.
Establishing who was at-fault for an accident involving a large truck or other commercial vehicle can be quite complex because multiple parties are responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle, including the following:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck leasing company if the vehicle is not owned by the trucking company
- Maintenance company if the trucking or leasing company outsourced maintenance
- Loading dock crew if the truck was loaded improperly, contributing to the accident
- Vehicle or parts manufacturer if a defective part contributed to the accident
Some of these responsible parties may have deep pockets because they are large companies. Knowing this, their insurers are inclined to retain a staff of very experienced lawyers and adjusters. It is not uncommon for truck accident victims to be approached soon after an accident by an insurance company adjuster who offers a quick cash settlement. Many times, these initial settlements are much less than an accident victim deserves or needs to pay for medical costs and lost wages resulting from the crash. Truck accident victims should therefore resist such offers and instead seek legal representation.
Types of Truck Accidents
Due to the variety in size, height, weight, and possible loads being carried by commercial trucks, there are several types of truck accidents:
- This occurs when the trailer being pulled by the truck cab loses traction, skids, and winds up at a 90-degree angle to the truck. Jackknifing often occurs when a trailer is empty and is not bearing down on the road as heavily as it would if it were loaded. Even if the accident happens at a slow speed and the driver is not hurt, cars may pile up behind the tractor-trailer and cause secondary crashes.
- Smaller cars traveling at a high rate of speed can be pushed under the trailer. The consequences can be deadly for car passengers. Trucks can minimize the risk of this type of accident by using underride guards.
- Blind spot. Accidents may occur when another vehicle moves into a truck’s blind spot. A common example is when a car refuses to wait for a truck attempting to make a wide right turn and enters a truck’s blind spot.
- If a truck driver takes a turn or an exit too fast, a truck can rollover. The results can be catastrophic if the truck rolls over onto a car or motorcycle.
- Rear-end. Trucks can require up to 40 percent longer to brake, resulting in rear-end collisions.
- Load spill. If the loading crew fails to properly balance or secure a load, or attempts to overload a truck, the risk of an accident increases greatly.
The state of Maryland provides comprehensive guidelines on the weight, height, and hazardous materials hauled by commercial vehicles. These guidelines are intended to minimize the risk of truck accidents.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
While distracted driving is a common cause of car accidents, most truck drivers are trained not to text or talk on the phone, and they are motivated to follow the rules because their ability to make a living depends upon maintaining their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Common causes of truck accidents include the following:
- Improperly secured cargo
- Failure to perform regular maintenance and inspection
- Dangerous road conditions
- Defective brakes
- Tire wear or tire blowouts
- Poor weather conditions
- HOS violations and driver fatigue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues guidelines regarding a driver’s HOS. As a rule, drivers may not drive more than 14 hours at a time, and they must have a 10-hour rest period before driving again. Drivers are required to keep a log of the number of hours that they drive and rest. Within the past two years, the FMCSA has been requiring truckers to start using electronic log devices (ELDs) to track their hours of service. The goal was to help make the roads safer. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck accident fatalities actually increased after the ELD mandate was put in place. One theory is that truckers may be speeding to beat the clock, whereas in the past, with paper logs, they may have been fudging the numbers when they ran out of time.
What Should You Do If You are Hit by a Truck?
If you are hit by a truck, do your best to follow these steps to minimize your injuries and maximize your chances for filing a successful personal injury claim.
- Turn off your vehicle and take a minute to calm down. Turn on your emergency flashers. Check to see if anyone in your car is injured.
- Note your location and call 911. Be sure to note exits, mile markers, intersections, and other landmarks.
- Do not move your vehicle unless you are in harm’s way. Document the accident scene before the tow truck arrives. If you are able to do so, take pictures of the accident with your phone and include road conditions and traffic signs.
- Do not talk with other drivers except to exchange necessary information. Obtain driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, contact information, and insurance information. Never admit fault or express anger toward other parties. However, if there are witnesses present that were not involved in the accident, ask them for their contact information and see if they are willing to provide a statement about what they saw.
- When police arrive, remain calm. Provide required information but do not admit fault. If you are issued a traffic ticket, do not dispute it at the scene. However, you do not need to answer questions about fault or anything that may result in criminal charges.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you think you are not hurt, go to the hospital so that any possible injuries can be documented. Some injuries are not apparent until later. Documenting your medical condition from the start can help you build a stronger personal injury claim. In the days after the accident, follow up on all medical appointments. Drink plenty of water to minimize muscle pain and soreness.
- Contact an attorney. Also, call your insurance company to report the accident.
Above all, avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster who is representing the trucking company that may be liable for your injuries. If they contact you, advise them that you will be seeking the services of a truck accident lawyer who will contact them later. Your attorney will do the work of investigating the accident, gathering evidence, building a case, and negotiating with the insurance companies to protect your rights.
Recovering Compensation After a Trucking Accident
Truck accident cases can be very complex, involving multiple parties and sophisticated lawyers representing trucking companies and other parties that may be negligent. Trucking companies and their insurers are skilled in minimizing their liability to avoid compensating innocent accident victims.
It is not unusual for a team of professional investigators to arrive swiftly at an accident scene to gather evidence to build a case against an innocent accident victim. Because Maryland is a contributory negligence state, all the trucking company representative needs to do is portray the injured victim as slightly responsible for the accident to prevent them from receiving compensation. Your best bet is to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as you are able to get sound legal advice regarding your claim.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Truck Accident Victims
If you were injured in a truck accident, the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. 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. In addition to handling truck accidents, our personal injury lawyers help our clients with car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents throughout Maryland. Contact us online or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) to schedule a free consultation.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.