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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.