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Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyer

Tractor-trailers are a staple of the United States economy, and these large vehicles transport billions of tons of goods all over the country and travel millions of miles’ worth of roads each year. Despite their economic importance, it’s crucial for everyone to appreciate the inherently dangerous nature of these vehicles and know what to do in the event of a trucking accident. If you’ve been involved in a motor-vehicle accident involving a commercial or semi-truck, contact our office to schedule a free case evaluation with a Baltimore truck accident attorney today.

Because they can cause serious injuries, commercial trucks are often subject to lawsuits after a collision. When a lawsuit comes up involving trucking collisions, one of the biggest factors involved is what caused the crash. In terms of truck crashes, this is usually more difficult because it can involve a number of parties and liability may be placed on multiple people. This brings up many questions, but it is important for individuals — whether they have been involved in a crash with a commercial truck or not — to know what causes a truck accident and the impact that can come as a result.

What Causes a Truck Accident?

There are several factors that typically play into a trucking accident in Baltimore. Whether it be technical issues with a vehicle, weather conditions or driver-specific, below are a few of the most common causes for truck accidents in Baltimore, Maryland and surrounding areas.

  • Overloaded & Improperly Loaded Trucks. Regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), commercial trucks are restricted to a maximum weight limit. This limit includes the weight of the truck itself, as well as the trailer and whatever is being transported. Because of these regulations, the trailer must be loaded properly, within the weight limit. Furthermore, the trailer must also be loaded evenly so one side is not heavier than the other or it is not front-loaded. If the trailer is not loaded properly or within the weight restrictions, it could potentially cause a serious crash.

    Because these trucks travel different types of roads — steep hills and sharp turns — and overloaded truck can cause the truck to either turnover on a sharp turn or make it difficult for the truck to stop going downhill. It can also make it tougher on the truck to go uphill, causing a strain on the hitch and potentially breaking. Overloaded trucks can also jackknife if the driver must hit the brakes all of a sudden. Similarly, if the trailer is loaded heavier on one side, there is a high potential for a turnover crash, and any vehicle that is nearby can be involved, resulting in serious injuries.

  • Defective Parts. Not all problems stem from the trucking company or its employees. Unfortunately, there are times when things are set to go wrong before the truck even leaves for its destination. This is because some manufacturers of the parts that go on the trucks may be negligent in their inspections and safety protocols that they put parts on vehicles even when they have not been tested. If these items fail, it can cause the truck to lose control or disconnect from the trailer, which can lead to a serious collision.

    Some of the most common defective parts on a commercial truck include the brakes, tires, trailer hitch, seatbelts, airbags, and more. For instance, if the trucks brakes fail as it is going downhill, this will make it difficult or impossible to stop, and the vehicles in front of the truck can be struck as a result. Also, if the tires have a defect and blow out, it can cause the entire truck to lose control, often resulting in a jackknife, overturn, or other kind of collision.

  • Failure to Maintain / Inspect. Before the truck leaves for delivery, it must go through inspection to make sure all parts are adequate and the truck is working correctly, with no problems. If there is a problem, the truck should be pulled out of use until the issue is fixed. Because some new parts can be defective, these inspections must be conducted before the truck leaves every time to ensure the safety of the driver and others on the road. If no inspection is performed and a crash occurs due to something breaking down, the person responsible for the inspection and the trucking company can be held accountable.

    Much like inspection must occur, maintenance is very important for the truck. The trucking company is expected to make sure all parts on the truck are safe on a regular basis. As soon as something is noticeably wrong and has been identified, the owner must take action to fix the issue prior to letting it go out for its next delivery. Maintenance is important to make sure the brakes, engine, transmission, hitch, tires, and other important components are good to go.

  • Fatigue / Drunk / Distracted Driver. For truck drivers, they have the same laws on the road, but for them, violations of these can have much greater consequences due to the size of the truck. Because of this, it is absolutely critical that truck drivers do not operate their trucks while drunk, tired, or distracted. Distracted driving includes using a cell phone while driving, messing with the radio, eating or drinking, or simply looking away from the road for an extended period of time. Obviously, distracted and drunk driving can result in a serious crash and are illegal. Fatigued driving is also a violation of FMSCA regulations that limit how long a truck driver can work consecutively before taking a break.
  • Tip-overs / Rollovers. A tractor-trailer or semi-truck that is traveling at high speeds with an empty trailer is susceptible to tipping over from strong winds or while taking sharp turns. In addition, big rigs and 18 wheelers tend to have a higher center of gravity, which makes them much more vulnerable to falling or rolling over to one side due to quick maneuvers, weight that is being carried, and wind conditions that they may be traveling in. These types of accidents are particularly dangerous because they can potentially roll onto adjacent lanes of traffic, causing an accident to escalate quickly.
  • Jackknifing. Jackknifing refers to when a trailer-truck, big rig or semi truck swings out to one side as the cab of the vehicle continues forward. due to the size of these large vehicles, a jackknifing tractor-trailer can cover several lanes of traffic and cause catastrophic damage.
  • Aggressive Driving. Truck drivers or other drivers nearby who make risky maneuvers on the road put themselves and others at risk. Tractor-trailers are not as maneuverable as smaller passenger vehicles and require more time and distance to come to complete stops. Truck drivers typically go through extensive training before becoming licensed to drive a big rig. However, sometimes drivers disregard their training and choose to drive recklessly and above the speed limit; endangering others on the road.

What to Expect From Your Truck Accident Claim

Accidents involving commercial motor vehicles have many unique considerations that may affect how a plaintiff files a claim or seeks compensation following a crash. A general understanding of how these claims work will help each plaintiff know what to expect from the claims process.

1. Finding the Liable Parties. One of the things that make truck accident cases unusual is that they often involve multiple defendants or liable parties. In order to collect fair compensation in the wake of a truck accident, plaintiffs must identify as many potential defendants as possible, which may include more than just the driver. A trucking company, government entity, insurance company, contractor, or even the manufacturer of a defective vehicle may be responsible for your injuries, and liable for any damages that result.

Determining the parties responsible for a truck accident requires the assistance of an attorney. The lawyers at Murphy Falcon Murphy help identify the parties responsible for a truck accident and hold them accountable for the damages their negligence caused.

2. Filing Claims Against the Government. In some cases, truck accident claims may involve a government entity as a potential defendant. When this applies, the process for filing a claim follows a different procedure. Plaintiffs have a limited amount of time to file a document, called the notice of claim, to the government entity who allegedly committed negligence. The time limit for filing this document varies by municipality but could be as short as 30 days. Plaintiffs who want to seek damages from the government should consult an attorney as soon as possible following a truck accident.

3. The Settlement Process. Truck accident claims can be complex matters to settle, especially when the cases involve multiple defendants. In some cases, plaintiffs may negotiate several claims with several different insurance companies in order to collect fair compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering. An attorney is integral to this process, as he or she will fight for fair compensation on your behalf and demand full reimbursement for the harms you suffered.

When coming to a settlement in a truck accident case, an attorney will negotiate with the insurance companies to gain compensation for several types of damages, including:

  • The plaintiff’s monetary losses – these include things like medical bills, lost wages, costs of future care, therapy and rehabilitation, and the costs of accommodation to a home if the plaintiff’s injuries are severe or permanently disabling.
  • The plaintiff’s non-economic losses – this is one of the biggest sticking points in the negotiations, as the losses suffered by the plaintiff are intangible. Examples of these losses include pain, suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and even the loss of life quality a plaintiff experiences in the wake of an accident. Determining a fair compensation amount for these damages requires the assistance of an attorney.

4. Litigation. If settlement attempts out of court do not yield a fair settlement for the plaintiff, the next step is to consider litigation. This is a formal court process in which a jury will hear the elements of the case, both attorneys present evidence, and the jury determines if negligence occurred and how much a claim is worth. The process can be lengthy but may be the best option for securing a fair claim amount in some cases.

Contact Our Baltimore Truck Accident Attorneys

Tractor-trailer accidents can happen unpredictably. Injured drivers should understand their legal options after suffering injuries and other damages from trucking accidents, and the team at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore can help. We’ve built our reputation on fearless representation of our clients’ rights in court, and over the years we’ve helped past clients secure more than $700 million in compensation from their legal claims.

If you’ve been harmed in a crash involving a large commercial truck, it’s important to take swift legal action and speak with an accident lawyer. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the liable party, but having a lawyer on your side can help you determine exactly who is accountable and what kind of damages you can seek.

To discuss your potential case with a skilled and experienced accident attorney, call (410) 983-6266 to schedule a free consultation with our Baltimore lawyers today.