In the United States, millions of commercial trucks are operating on the roads — many are driven by overworked, fatigued, drowsy, distracted, or negligent truck drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as many as 494,149 large rigs were involved in crashes in 2021. Of those accidents, 110,000 resulted in injuries and 5,149 in fatalities. The FMCSA also found that 13% of all truckers were extremely fatigued at the time of their crash.
Since commercial motor vehicles are much larger and heavier than cars, accidents involving them can be devastating. A collision with an 18-wheeler can change lives forever. If you or a loved one has been injured in such an accident, consider getting a lawyer.
A truck accident injury attorney in Maryland from Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell, LLC can help you make sense of the complex insurance issues and bring a lawsuit against the at-fault parties. You can start by filling out our free case evaluation form or calling (410) LAW-YERS.
Why You Should Hire a Maryland Truck Accident Lawyer
Working with a truck accident attorney in Maryland is important for several reasons. Notably, Maryland follows a harsh “contributory negligence” rule, which means even a small degree of fault on your part can prevent you from getting any compensation. The defense will aim to show that you were partly at fault for the accident, even if the truck driver was 95% at fault.
When the odds are stacked against you, a skilled and experienced semi-truck accident lawyer in Maryland can present your case effectively to prove that you were not at fault. Here are a few ways they can improve your chances of recovering maximum damages:
Preserving evidence after a commercial truck crash
Freight carriers — companies that employ truck drivers — usually have rapid-response teams, including investigators and legal experts, ready to mitigate their liability from the moment an accident occurs.
An experienced Maryland truck accident lawyer can quickly lock down essential evidence, such as detailed reports from law enforcement, photographs of the accident scene, skid mark measurements, vehicle damage, and eyewitness accounts so they can reconstruct your crash and prove liability.
Experienced truck accident attorneys know the importance of video evidence. This includes footage from security cameras of nearby businesses, traffic surveillance systems, and dash cams installed in nearby vehicles, which could have recorded the moments leading up to your trucking accident.
You must consult with truck accident lawyers in Maryland quickly because this video evidence could get automatically overwritten or deleted within 30 to 60 days. Equally important is getting hold of the truck’s black box data or the Event Data Recorder (EDR). This device records the truck’s speed, brake application, and steering patterns seconds before the collision. This data needs to be accessed as quickly as possible, as it can be lost or intentionally erased.
Identifying the liable parties
Determining who is to blame in Maryland truck accidents can be difficult. It could be any of the following:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Cargo loader
- Truck manufacturer
- Maintenance providers
- Parts manufacturers
- Other drivers
- Municipal or government organizations (responsible for road design and maintenance)
- Construction companies (related to roadwork and construction zones)
A dedicated truck crash lawyer in Maryland will look into all these possibilities to support your case. But waiting too long to get one can make it harder to prove who should be held responsible for your injuries since evidence can be lost or destroyed.
Negotiating with the insurance company
When you are coping with physical injuries and emotional trauma, it can be particularly challenging to deal with insurance companies. Insurance adjusters may employ multiple strategies to minimize their payouts. For instance, they might pressure you to accept a quick settlement that is much lower than what you are entitled to.
Insurance representatives might also request a recorded statement from you shortly after the accident. While this might seem harmless, it’s a common ploy used to find inconsistencies or admissions that could reduce their liability. Talk to a truck accident injury attorney in Maryland before giving any statement. They can guide you on what to say to protect your interests.
Remember, truck accident claims generally involve larger settlements due to the drastic nature of the injuries. Recognizing this, insurance providers are motivated to aggressively dispute your claim. They may contest the severity of your injuries, argue over “fault”, or challenge the necessity of certain medical treatments.
A proven truck accident attorney in Maryland understands all these strategies and has the experience to counter them. Their involvement also sends a clear message to the insurance company that you are serious about receiving fair compensation. This can prompt them to make a more reasonable settlement offer because insurers want to avoid the costs and uncertainties of a trial.
Understanding trucking laws and regulations
In the trucking industry in Maryland, strict rules govern safety, driver qualifications, and truck maintenance. Some of these are:
- Hours-of-service (HOS) regulations: These federal rules specify the maximum amount of time a commercial driver can be on-duty and driving. For example, property-carrying drivers are allowed a maximum of 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty. The FMCSA sets these limits to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue.
- Mandatory rest breaks: To combat exhaustion, drivers are required to take breaks. They must take a 30-minute break, for instance, if they have driven for eight cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.
- Logbook keeping: Drivers must keep logbooks that record their hours of service and rest periods. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are now commonly used for this purpose as they provide more accurate and tamper-resistant tracking.
- Training requirements: Drivers must be qualified and licensed to operate commercial vehicles. They must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and undergo training for different types of cargo and tractor-trailers.
- Substance abuse testing: Commercial truck drivers are also subject to regular and random drug and alcohol testing to ensure they are not driving under the influence.
A truck crash lawyer in Maryland can check if the transportation company complied with these laws. If any rule was broken, data from logbooks, ELDs, and vehicle service records can help them link it to your injuries to build a strong truck accident case in your favor.
Filing your lawsuit on time
Each state has its own deadline for filing truck accident lawsuits. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for truck accident lawsuits is generally three years from the date of the accident. If the truck was owned or managed by a government agency, the statute could be shorter. If you miss this time frame, you may lose your right to seek compensation.
It’s natural for you to lose track of these legal timelines when you are still recovering from your injuries. This is another benefit of having a Maryland truck accident attorney. It’s their job to make sure all procedural requirements are met within the prescribed period.
Types of Truck Accidents in Maryland
By getting a clear picture of how the accident occurred, your truck accident lawyers in Maryland can pursue your claim more effectively. Here are some of the most common ways a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer can lose control on the road:
- Jackknife accidents: These happen when the trailer of the truck folds at an acute angle to the cab, resembling a folding knife. It can happen due to sudden braking or taking a turn too fast.
- Rollovers: When a truck tips over onto its side or roof, it’s a rollover. This can happen because of speeding, overloading, or swerving abruptly.
- Rear-end collisions: This is when a truck crashes into the passenger vehicle in front of it.
- Underride accidents: This happens when a smaller passenger car or bike slides underneath a truck’s trailer.
- Blind spot accidents: Big commercial motor vehicles have major blind spots. Many truck accidents occur because truck drivers change lanes or turn without noticing a vehicle in these blind spots.
- Lost load accidents: If cargo is not tied properly, it can fall off and create hazards for other road users.
- Head-on collisions: These are usually the most fatal; they occur when the front end of a truck collides with the front end of another vehicle.
- T-Bone accidents: These happen when the truck hits the side of another vehicle, forming a ‘T’ shape. These are common at intersections.
- Wide turn accidents: Also known as “swinging turn” or “squeeze play” accidents, these are when a truck swings left to make a right turn, potentially trapping or hitting vehicles on its right side.
- Tire blowouts: When a truck’s tire bursts, it can cause the driver to lose control.
- Brake failure accidents: Due to the hefty loads, if a truck’s brakes fail, it can crash, especially in high-speed or downhill situations.
- Runaway trailer accidents: This involves the trailer detaching from the truck and causing an accident.
- Side-impact collisions: When a truck hits the side of another vehicle; these can be particularly dangerous at high speeds.
- Override accidents: The opposite of an underride, this happens when a truck runs over a smaller vehicle.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Maryland
Identifying the cause of your accident is one of the most important first steps your Maryland truck accident law firm will take to establish who was responsible for it. The most common reasons a truck collision happens include:
- The driver was speeding to meet tight deadlines.
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The truck driver was not paying attention to the road. They might have been adjusting the GPS, watching videos, or talking to someone via their headset or Bluetooth device.
- The trailer was overloaded beyond its maximum capacity, which made it harder for the driver to control the truck.
- The cargo was not properly tied, causing it to shift or fall during transit in a way that made the vehicle lose its balance.
- The transportation company ignored the drivers’ work hours and forced them to operate beyond the FMCSA hours-of-service limits. This caused the driver to get tired and thus, compromised their reaction time and decision-making.
- The brakes, tie-downs, or engine parts were defective.
- The tire(s) of the truck ruptured (also known as a tire blowout) while the vehicle was still in motion. This could have happened because the truck was overloaded, tires were worn down, tires were not properly inflated, or there was a manufacturing defect.
- The truck driver was tailgating, i.e., following another vehicle too closely and this led to a rear-end collision.
Steps to Take After a Truck Accident in Maryland
If your vehicle is hit by a truck, try to move to a safe area to avoid further danger, especially if you are in a high-traffic zone. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. Then check yourself and other passengers in your car (if any) for injuries. Do not try to move if you suspect any head or spinal cord injuries — simply call 911.
Once the police officers arrive on the scene, they will create an official report about the crash. Make sure you get a copy of this report — it will be vital for your truck accident claim.
You should also get the contact and insurance details from the truck driver. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company details, and the truck’s license plate number. Take as many photos of the accident site as possible — take pictures of all the vehicles involved, any traffic signs, skid marks, and so on. If there are witnesses, get their names and phone numbers as well.
Then go to your nearest emergency room or urgent care center to get a thorough medical evaluation. Do this even if you feel fine. Some of the most serious truck accident injuries —like whiplash and traumatic brain injuries — do not become apparent until later.
Throughout all this, avoid discussing anything with the commercial truck driver or the insurance company about “fault”. Be careful about what you say — do not admit fault or accuse the other driver. These statements could be used against you later. Contact an experienced Maryland truck accident law team who can help you start any communication with the insurers.
Compensation for Truck Accident Victims in Maryland
If you decide to take legal action against the at-fault party for your injuries, you may be eligible for the following monetary damages. The amount will depend on your specific circumstances, but generally, they can include:
- Medical expenses: For all medical bills related to the accident, including hospital bills, medications, surgeries, rehabilitation, and any future medical care
- Lost wages: For wages lost during the recovery period and potential future earnings if you’re unable to return to your previous job
- Property damage: For the repair or replacement of your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the accident
- Pain and suffering: For ongoing physical discomfort, anxiety, stress, depression, and PTSD caused by the crash
- Loss of consortium: For loss of companionship, affection, and support if the crash impacts your relationship with your spouse
- Wrongful death: For funeral expenses of the victims of truck accidents and the loss of financial support and emotional suffering for their immediate family members
- Other out-of-pocket expenses: For home modifications for accessibility, transportation to medical appointments, and other accident-related expenses
- Punitive damages: In truck accident cases where the at-fault party’s behavior was particularly reprehensible or egregious, punitive damages might be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future
Get Strong Legal Representation from Top-Rated Truck Accidents Lawyers in Maryland
Our Maryland truck accident attorneys at Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell, LLC. have more than 250 years of combined experience in representing crash victims and their families across Maryland. Over the last several decades, we have built a strong network of expert witnesses and investigators who are ready to analyze every detail of your collision and uncover any negligence or safety violations that may have resulted in your injuries.
Our approach includes:
- Examining any available camera footage
- Interviewing witnesses
- Going through mandatory police and accident reports
- Analyzing medical records and discussing with medical professionals
- Working with experts to recreate the accident scene
- Ensuring the truck company and driver preserve important evidence
- Obtaining the truck driver’s drug and alcohol tests
- Retrieving data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM), known as the black box
When our truck accident law firm in Maryland starts working for you, we will send a spoliation letter to the truck company to prevent them from losing or destroying key evidence. It’s critical to send this letter right after your crash as trucking companies might otherwise erase these records as part of their standard business practices. To get started with a free consultation, contact us online or call us at (410) LAW-YERS.