Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers
The Maryland truck accident lawyers at Miller & Zois handle a large number of large truck and tractor-trailer personal injury cases. Our firm has a history of seven figure settlements and trial verdicts in serious truck injury claims. Our cases come both directly from victims or, more frequently, from other Maryland lawyers. To contact us about a truck accident claim, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.
Remarkably, there are more than three accidents a minute where an American is injured or killed in a truck accident. Thousands of people in this country every year are injured or lose their lives in truck accidents involving tractor-trailers, 18 wheelers, big rigs, fire engines, semi trucks, and other large commercial vehicles. Many of these accidents in Maryland occur on our most frequents highways, Route 95, the Baltimore Beltway (Route 695), Washington Beltway (Route 495) and the Baltimore Washington Parkway (Route 295). Poor driving, overworked drivers that are being paid by the mile, oversized truck loads and various other unsafe practices increase the dangers in operating these heavy trucks that weight up to 80,000 pounds (the average passenger car weights approximately 3,000 pounds). But a lot of truck accidents are also called by simple drive mistake: you have so much less margin for error in a large truck than you do in a passenger car.
Handling Truck Accident Cases
Many personal injury lawyers approach Maryland truck accident cases like any other motor vehicle accident case. This may be appropriate for minvan, pickup truck, or sport utiliy vehicles (SUV), but commercial big rig, 18 wheel trucks accidents are very different. Not only are the vehicles different, Maryland has specific laws designed largely to help accident victims of truck accidents. Accordingly, a truck accident lawyer in Maryland must have great familiarity with the finer details of Maryland commercial vehicle law. The truck driver may have violated a specific statute or regulation with respect to the freight he was carrying or how long he had been driving before the accident. As discussed above, a remarkable number of trucks accidents occur because of the fatigue of the truck driver who is paid to get as far as he can as fast as he can.
In addition to these legal considerations, when our truck accident lawyers investigate truck accident cases in Maryland, our attorneys consider these factors and other details specific to truck accidents because there are always additional things lawyers must consider in truck accident cases. For example, most big rig trucks maintain "black boxes" that measure various parameters that can assist the truck accident lawyer and/or truck accident reconstruction expert in determining how the truck accident occurred. Also, because there is extensive federal regulation applicable to the trucking industry, there are also intricate regulations covering the use and maintenance of commercial trucks. This gives plaintiffs' truck accident lawyers a treasure trove of information about the truck driver and his vehicle that is typically not available in passenger car accident cases. This is a real advantage to Maryland attorneys in truck accident cases representing injured victims.
Another important consideration for semi truck accident lawyers in Maryland is the preservation of critical evidence, such as the black box information discussed above. Obviously, truck drivers and trucking companies have an incentive to destroy evidence that does not support their version of the facts of the accident. Parties in a truck accident case have a duty to retain evidence that could be relevant to the accident if they believe the accident could be subject of litigation. In order to ascertain that valuable evidence is not destroyed, the truck accident lawyer in Maryland should send correspondence to the potential defendants as soon as possible to put the defendants on notice of a potential claim. In Maryland, the destruction or alteration of evidence by a party gives rise to inferences or presumptions unfavorable to the spoliator. In other words, if a trucking company destroys evidence, the accident victim might seek and receive from the judge a spoliation instruction which essentially says assume that the destroyed evidence contained information most favorable to the Plaintiff.
A lawyer must also consider whether the company that hired thedriver may also be responsible under the theory of negligent entrustment or negligent supervision if they failed to properly screen the truck driver before the accident or if they failed to properly train the truck driver. You would be amazed at how many operators of trucks, particularly big rig trucks, are improperly trained or have unacceptable driving records. There can also be a claim for negligent maintenance, a related legal theory lawyers pursue in truck accident cases when the company and/or truck driver failed to properly maintain the truck.
In these truck accidents, 97% of fatal truck accidents are victims in passenger cars or trucks, not at-fault driver of the commercial truck. But trucking industry is a $600 billion dollar business and these companies have many qualified Maryland truck accident lawyers at their disposal to vigorously fight personal injury claims from injured victims. Our truck accident lawyers have the experience and reputation to stand up to these companies to get fair compensation for our clients who have been injured in a truck accident. Our truck accident lawyers have learned what logbooks, receipts and other crucial evidence our lawyers must find to find the evidence to bring about a just result. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident in Maryland or anywhere else in the United States, call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation with a truck accident lawyer.
Causes of Truck Accidents in Maryland
The are four main specific risks that cause truck accidents that are not typically present with passenger cars. The first is simply that big trucks have a difficult time stopping, which leads to a great number of rear-end accidents.
The second is jackknifing where a large truck such as a semi or an eighteen-wheeler comes to a sudden stop and the load shifts. This sudden shift causes the trailer to come around and go sideways. This can lead to the trailer actually flipping and rolling. Jackknifing can occur at speeds as low as five miles per hour. Some trucks are more likely to jackknife. For example, a half empty tanker is more than twice as likely to be involved in a jackknifing truck accident than a fully loaded semi (which is also at great risk for jackknifing).
Invariably, the defendant's truck accident lawyers claim that the truck jackknifed because the road was slippery or the truck was required to make an emergency stop, often claiming a phantom vehicle caused the accident. Usually, after our Maryland truck accident lawyers have made a full investigation (often with the help of an accident reconstructionist), we find that there is no evidence of slippery road conditions or a phantom vehicle that caused he truck accident.
The third problem that our attorneys find causes many Maryland truck accidents is the difficulties truck drivers have in turning these long big rig trucks. It is often necessary for the driver of a big rig truck to use more than one lane of traffic in making a right turn in order to avoid the rear wheels hitting parked vehicles or the sidewalk. When these big rig truck drivers swing wide to complete a right turn, they often cause accidents with unsuspecting passenger cars.
The Federal Highway Administration's Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study underscored how fatigue exacerbates these problems that cause truck accidents. The study showed that while most people require 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep a day, the average truck driver gets 4.8 hours of sleep, hardly enough to remain alert to avoid a truck accident. On top of this, the National Transportation Safety Board and The National Institute on Drug Abuse found in a study that of 168 fatally injured truck drivers, one or more drugs was detected in 67% of these fatally injured truck drivers and 33% of these truck drivers had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol. When you combine the difficulties of driving a big truck with the incidence of fatigue and substance abuse, it is amazing that we do not have more fatal truck accidents in this country.
Help with Your Truck Accident Case
The majority of our serious truck accident cases come from other lawyers who seek out our firm as co-counsel because we have the experience and the financial and other resources to maximize the value of truck accident claims. If you have a case, call us today at 800-553-8082 or tell us more about your case online.
- How do lawyers in Maryland handle truck accidents versus other motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland? [Select here]
- Can I sue the truck driver's trucking company for my injuries from the accident? [Select here]
- I was injured in a truck crash where a big-rig truck jackknifed. Does this mean the truck driver was negligent? [Select here]
- What’s the difference between the manner in which attorneys handle truck accidents versus other motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland? [Select here]
- Who can sue in a truck accident injury or fatal truck accident in Maryland? [Select here]
- I was seriously injured in a truck accident. The accident was the truck driver's fault but my injuries were made worse by the fact that I was not wearing a seat belt? Can the truck driver's lawyer use that against me at trial in Maryland? [Select here]
- Are trucking companies regulated by the law in Maryland? [Select here]
- My accident occurred in Washington, D.C. but I live in Maryland. Should I hire a truck accident lawyer in Maryland or a truck accident lawyer in Washington D.C.? [Select here]
- If I am partially at fault for the accident, can I still prevail in a claim against a truck accident case? [Select here]
- Are trucks required by the law in Maryland to carry insurance? [Select here]
- Is it more difficult for trucks to brake? [Select here]
- My daughter was rear-ended by a tractor trailer but the truck driver claimed my daughter caused the truck accident by backing up into him. How does Maryland law determine who is at fault? [Select here]
- Is there a requirement as to how much insurance truck
drivers must have? [Select
How do lawyers in Maryland handle truck accidents versus other motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland? (FAQ)
In terms of the rules of the road in determining negligence, there is no difference. There are four considerations attorneys must consider in Maryland truck accident cases that are specific to the handling of trucking cases: (1) Maryland and federal regulations that apply to trucking companies, (2) the types of claims that can be brought against the trucking companies, (3) the nature of the investigation required by the truck accident lawyer, (4) the tactical jurisdiction issues regarding the most appropriate venue for the injury victim, and (5) the manner in which many truck accidents occur as specific to semi trucks and other large commercial vehicles (e.g., the problems associated with turning). The importance of hiring an attorney who is well versed in these issues is unbelievably important.
Can I sue the truck driver's trucking company for my injuries from the accident? (FAQ)
In most truck accident cases in Maryland, yes. It depends on the relationship between truck driver and the trucking company. If such a relationship is demonstrated, the company can be held legally liable for the truck driver's negligence under a legal theory known as respondeat superior, which means that the agent is responsible for the principal. The trucking company may also be liable under the theories of negligent entrustment or negligent supervision if they failed to properly screen out drivers they knew or had reason to know would untrained or unsafe truck drivers. You would be stunned how many commercial semi truck operators, particularly big rig trucks, are inadequately trained or have driving records that demonstrate they should not be behind the wheel of any vehicle, much less a commercial truck. There can also be a claim for negligent maintenance, a related legal theory truck accident lawyers in Maryland pursue when the company fails to properly inspect and maintain the truck
I was injured in a truck crash where a big-rig truck jackknifed. Does this mean the truck driver was negligent? (FAQ)
Usually a truck jackknifes because of the truck driver's negligence, often because the driver locked up the trucks breaks. Because a truck driver could theoretically jackknife without driver error, the truck accident lawyers on behalf of the defendant will seek to avoid liability by arguing that the truck jackknifed because of due to unforeseeable slipperiness of the road or because it had to take an emergency turn to avoid another vehicle. Our truck accident lawyers have found that this argument can usually be defeated after a full investigation of the physical evidence.
What’s the difference between the manner in which attorneys handle truck accidents versus other motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland? (FAQ)
Although the rules determining fault for the accident are generally the same, there are special laws that apply to trucking companies. Other differences in the way in which Maryland attorneys handle auto and truck accident cases differently include the nuances of how the truck accidents typically occur, the types of claims that can be brought against the trucking companies, the nature of the investigation required by the truck accident lawyer, and the tactical jurisdiction issues regarding the most appropriate venue for the injury victim.
Who can sue in a truck accident injury or fatal truck accident in Maryland? (FAQ)
Your truck accident lawyer in Maryland can bring a lawsuit on behalf of anyone injured or has had a loved one killed in a fatal truck accident.
I was seriously injured in a truck accident. The accident was the truck driver's fault but my injuries were made worse by the fact that I was not wearing a seat belt? Can the truck driver's lawyer use that against me at trial in Maryland? (FAQ)
Under the Maryland Transportation Code § 22-412.3, the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt cannot be used against you at trial. (But in the future, wear your seat belt, it may save your life.)
Are trucking companies regulated by the law in Maryland? (FAQ)
Yes, there is a complicated statutory scheme that governs the trucking industry. Click here for more information about the background of these statutes.
My accident occurred in Washington, D.C. but I live in Maryland. Should I hire a truck accident lawyer in Maryland or a truck accident lawyer in Washington D.C.? (FAQ)
There are many potential places to file a truck accident case in this type of situation. Your truck accident lawyer must consider the best venue given all of the factors, such as which jurisdiction has a cap on damages, the reputation of the juries in a particular jurisdiction, convenience of injured party, the attorney's subpoena power over the witnesses, and a whole host of other factors. Your case may be filed where the trucking company is incorporated or does regular business, or where the trucking accident occurred. Our truck accident lawyers often engage in battles with the trucking companies over which jurisdiction is the most appropriate for the case.
If I am partially at fault for the accident, can I still prevail in a claim against a truck accident case? (FAQ)
In Maryland, you cannot recover if you are partially to blame (called contributory negligence). In many other jurisdictions, under a legal theory called comparative negligence, the amount of truck driver and/or the trucking company would be liable for the percentage of fault a jury attributes to their negligence.
Are trucks required by the law in Maryland to carry insurance? (FAQ)
Yes. Commercial vehicles traveling in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Maryland also imposes the same limit for trucks traveling within Maryland.
Is it more difficult for trucks to brake? (FAQ)
Unquestionably. Compared to cars, the stopping distances for trucks are much longer, particularly 18 wheel trucks. The Large Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) conducted in 2005 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found a correlation between size of a truck and the likelihood of a rear end truck accident. Consequently, our attorneys handle a great deal of rear end big rig truck accident cases where the truck driver was simply unable to stop the truck in time to avoid crashing into the passenger car in front of it. On roads that are wet and/or slippery, there is an even greater disparity between the braking capabilities of passenger cars or motorcycles and large trucks. Failure of the trucking company to properly maintain their brakes aggravates the problem. Over 53% of the trucks causing wrecks had least one brake safety violation, accordingly to one study of fatal truck accidents, as opposed to only 30% of struck trucks (that were not at-fault for the truck accident). The usual culprit in these truck accidents is due to braking complication from brakes being out of adjustment.
My daughter was rear ended by a tractor trailer but the truck driver claimed my daughter caused the truck accident by backing up into him. How does Maryland law determine who is at fault? (FAQ)
In Maryland, there is a presumption of negligence in a rear end truck accident. In other words the law assumes the rear ending truck in this case was negligent unless the truck driver's attorney is able to proffer evidence that shows that your daughter was at fault for the accident. In this situation, the truck driver's attorney has the burden of proving that your daughter backed up into the truck driver which, in most cases, is going to be extremely difficult for the truck driver's lawyer to prove because accidents of this kind so rarely occur in this way.
there a requirement as to how much insurance truck drivers must
In the 1950's, it was a common practice for trucking companies' attorneys to advise them to use independent truck drivers to immunize the trucking companies from liability. To combat the trucking companies' attorneys' efforts to avoid liability (and justice), Congress passed legislation to ensure that the public was adequately protected. Accordingly, liability insurance is required for trucking companies to make sure there is adequate insurance to pay for damages in truck accident cases. The minimum liability insurance allowed by trucking companies depends upon their freight:
- $ 750,000 for vehicles over 10,000 pounds carrying nonhazardous freight;
- $1,000,000 for those hauling hazardous materials and oil; and
- $5,000,000 for trucks operating portable tanks, capacity over
Our Maryland truck accident lawyers have the experience to sort through these complicated issues and stand up to the insurance companies to fight for fair compensation for the victims of truck accidents. If you have been injured in a truck accident, select here or call 1-800-553-8082 to speak to a Maryland lawyer experienced in handling truck accident claims.
Finding Coverage in Truck Accident Cases
- Respondeat Superior (the easy road to finding coverage/assets)
- Negligent Hiring (old cause of action that is getting new attention as trucking companies create new shell games to hide assets that allow them to purchase only the minimum required insurance for big rig trucks)
- Negligent Entrustment in Truck Accident Cases
- Negligent Supervision in Truck Accident Cases
Handling Truck Accident Cases: What Lawyers Need to Know
- What Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers Should Know About the Trucking Industry: information for truck accident lawyers
- Risks Associated with the Size and Weight of Big Rig Trucks: more on the risks associated with semi trucks and why that matters in the tactics used in truck accident litigation
- Sample Cross Examination: transcript of the cross examination of a truck driver in a Baltimore City case where the jury awarded over $1 million
- Tricks Trucking Companies Use to Evade Liability: advice defendant's truck accident attorneys use to evade liability in truck accident lawsuits
- Miller & Zois Lawyer Ron Miller's Book: how to maximize the value of truck accident cases
- Maryland Motor Vehicle Accident Cases (an overview)
- Maryland Truck Accident Lawyer Blog:more information on the nuances of truck accident cases
- Trying Truck Accident Cases (overcoming defenses)
- More Information on Handling Truck Accident Cases (from start to finish)
- Maryland Personal Injury Attorney Help Center :sample complaints, interrogatories, and other discovery in truck accident lawsuits