The attorneys 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. To contact us about your case, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.Truck Accident Settlements and Verdicts in Maryland
If you have a case, you invariably have a number of questions. But, to us, the biggest question victims have is how much money they will get for their claim. It does not mean they don't care about the hurt and the suffering. But they understand that the only thing the legal system can give victims is money. So that is what really matters and we have no shame in fighting to get our clients every last penny imaginable and allowed by law.
So let's look at the statistics. The average jury award in a truck accident cases is a little over $500,000. But 3% of those awards are over $5 million and the median award was only $90,000.
This information is interesting and useless at the same time. Where does your case fall? To give you more information, we have complied a list of truck crash verdicts in Maryland.
How did we compile our verdicts? A bunch of sources. Our own cases. Verdict reports. Verdicts our friends and colleagues have achieved. Please remember that there verdicts were not picked with scientific methodology. Even if your case sounds similar, take these with grain or two of salt.Handling Truck Accident Cases: Fine Details Matter
Many truck collision cases like any other motor vehicle accident case. This may be appropriate for minivan, pickup truck, or sport utility 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, if you are handling a case, you better have great familiarity with the finer details of Maryland commercial vehicle law and how to details of how handle these claims. If you don't, opposing counsel is going to eat you for lunch.
In addition to these legal considerations, when we investigate these crashes, we consider these factors and other details specific to truck accidents. For example, most big rig trucks maintain "black boxes" that measure various parameters that can assist 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' a treasure trove of information about the truck driver and his vehicle that is typically not available in passenger car accident cases.
Another important consideration 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 crash if they believe the wreck could be subject of litigation. In order to ascertain that valuable evidence is not destroyed, plaintiff must 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 company destroys evidence, the 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.
Counsel must also consider whether the company that hired the driver 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 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 these 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 qualified counsel at their disposal to vigorously fight suits from those that have been hurt or the families left behind in death cases.
We can tell you point blank that we 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. We have learned what logbooks, receipts and other crucial evidence our attorneys must find to find the evidence to bring about a just result.Causes of Truck Accidents in Maryland
The are four main specific risks that cause truck accidents that are not typically present with passenger cars. Why does this matter? Because you have to know the science behind each case and the defenses you can expect to get as they try to defeat your claim. That is how you win.
The first is simply that big rigs have a difficult time stopping, which leads to a great number of rear-end crashes.
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, defense counsel will 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 we 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 cause stems from the difficulties truck drivers have in turning 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.
Finally, and arguably the most important, driver fatigue. The Federal Highway Administration's Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study underscored how fatigue exacerbates these problems that cause truck crashes. 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. 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 crashes in this country.Help with Your Truck Accident Case
The majority of our serious injury and death case 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 these claims. If you have a case, call us today at 800-553-8082 or tell us more about your case online.Fighting Back in Trucking Cases
- Frequently Asked Truck Crash Related Injury/Wrongful Death Questions
- Digging Through the Insurance Issues
- 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
- A problem nearly as big: RV accidents. These are big rig vehicles driver by drivers who don't have a clue what they are doing
- Sample Cross Examination: transcript of the cross examination of a truck driver in a Baltimore City case where the jury awarded our client over $1 million