Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyer
Semi-trucks, Tractor-trailers, Big Rigs, 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 an accident involving a commercial or semi-truck, Big Rig or 18-wheeler contact our office to schedule a free case evaluation with a Baltimore 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. If the trailer is not loaded properly or within the weight restrictions, it could potentially cause a serious crash.
- Defective Parts. Not all problems stem from the trucking company or its employees. Unfortunately, some manufacturers of the parts that go on the trucks may be negligent in their inspections and safety protocols.
- Failure to Maintain / Inspect. 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.
- Fatigue / Drunk / Distracted Driver. For truck drivers, violations 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.
- 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. 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 tractor-trailer, commercial 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. Sometimes drivers disregard their training and choose to drive recklessly and above the speed limit and endanger others on the road.
The Problem of Tired Truckers
In the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces regulations by which trucking companies, drivers, and other workers must abide. One set of rules that drivers must follow is referred to as Hours of Service regulations. These regulations control how long drivers can operate their trucks, the amount of time they must take for rest periods, and more. It is important for truck drivers to follow these regulations in order to avoid driving while tired.
According to the FMCSA, Hours of Service regulations apply to commercial motor vehicles fitting any of the following descriptions:
- Exceeds 10,001 pounds
- Has a 10,001-pound or more gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight rating
- Transports 16+ passengers not for compensation
- Transports 9+ passengers for compensations
- Transports hazardous materials in an amount that would require placards
Commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting property cannot drive more than 11 hours after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Drivers carrying passengers cannot drive more than 10 hours after being off duty for 8 consecutive hours. Furthermore, drivers must take a rest break of at least 8 hours or a sleeper berth period for at least 30 minutes before operating their commercial vehicles. Drivers cannot operate their trucks for more than 60 hours in a 7 consecutive day period or 70 hours in an 8 consecutive day period. The 7/8 consecutive day period restarts once the driver has taken 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
Failure to abide by the FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations can dramatically increase a driver’s chances of causing an accident due to fatigue. In many cases, these types of crashes are the result of the truck driver violating these regulations because of pressure from the trucking company to meet deadlines. When this happens, both the driver and the owner of the trucking company can be held liable for any damages caused by a fatigued driving crash.
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. Murphy Falcon Murphy helps 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 a Baltimore auto 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 attorney. 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 attorney, call (410) 951-8744 to schedule a free consultation with our lawyers today.