Truck Accident Attorneys Serving Maryland
With the Port of Baltimore – and Amazon’s distribution centers – fostering an ever-expanding shipping industry, Baltimore is one of the busiest trucking cities on the East Coast. As the demand for timely deliveries has increased substantially over the past years, truck drivers and trucking companies often cut corners regarding safety in an effort to deliver cargo at a faster rate. This creates dangerous situations on Maryland’s highways and interstates.
The Baltimore truck accident lawyers at The Bishop Law Group have built a reputation for excellence in complex truck wreck cases. These claims are often very complicated, involving several potentially liable parties, and require the knowledge, skill, and resources of a firm with extensive experience in these matters.
If you were hurt in a collision with a big rig or another large commercial vehicle, contact us today online or at (410) 390-3101 for a free initial consultation. We serve clients in Baltimore, Ocean City, and other Maryland communities. There is no fee unless we win your case.
What Are The Most Dangerous Roads For Truck Accidents In Baltimore?
Commercial 18-wheelers are increasingly prevalent in Maryland. According to the Maryland Motor Truck Association, 162,4040 tons of cargo are hauled by trucks every day in the state. In addition, more than 92 percent of Maryland communities rely exclusively on trucks to transport their goods.
Interstate 95, Interstate 895, and Interstate 695 are the most traveled interstates in Baltimore County. Due to the high volume of commercial traffic, trucking accidents are far too common in the area.
Many semi-truck wrecks result from truck driver errors. Truckers are often under considerable pressure to deliver cargo quickly. When truck accidents occur, the consequences can be devastating. Due to their massive size and weight, the injuries sustained in tractor-trailer accidents are often catastrophic and fatal. An experienced truck accident lawyer at The Bishop Law Group can help injured accident victims pursue the justice and compensation they need to get back on track.
Maryland Truck Accident Laws
Truck wreck cases are uniquely complicated in the realm of motor vehicle accidents. One reason involves the complex federal and state laws that govern big trucks. Commercial trucking law includes an intricate mix of both Maryland state laws and regulations that cover “intrastate trucking,” as well as federal laws and regulations that apply to “interstate trucking.”
Maryland’s intrastate trucking is regulated by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). National interstate trucking is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These organizations set a wide range of regulations on drivers and other industry aspects, including:
Oversize And Overweight Trucks
MDOT defines oversize vehicles as those that are 100 feet or more in length, 16 feet or more in width, or 16 feet or more in height. Overweight vehicles are defined as those weighing more than 120,000 pounds, or 60 tons.
MDOT does not allow vehicles that are oversize and overweight to travel on state highways unless the driver has obtained one of the following permits:
- Special vehicle permit
- Special hauling permit
- Containerized cargo permit
- Book permit
- Blanket hauling permit
Securing Truck Cargo
The FMCSA mandates that all cargo carried by commercial vehicles be solidly fixed in place and secured with tie-downs or dunnage, which are loose materials designed to protect and support the cargo. The working load limit of a truck’s cargo securement system must be at least one-half of the weight of the secured cargo.
Regulations also mandate a specific number of tie-downs that must be used to secure cargo based on the weight and length of the items being secured:
- Two tie-downs are required if the cargo exceeds 1,100 pounds and is less than 10 feet in length.
- One tie-down is required for cargo items that weigh less than 1,100 pounds and are 5 feet or less in length.
Medical Conditions Of Truck Drivers
According to federal regulations, truck drivers must be medically qualified to safely operate their vehicles. Truckers must be able to properly secure the cargo and conduct pre-trip and post-trip inspections, ensuring the cargo does not shift.
Certain medical conditions disqualify truckers from being allowed to operate a commercial vehicle, including:
- Insulin use
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
Section 382 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations mandates that drug and alcohol testing is required for drivers who need a commercial driver’s license. Employers may not allow someone to drive unless the potential driver tests negative for alcohol or other illegal substances. This test must be performed before the driver’s initial trip with the employer.
If a truck driver is involved in an accident, employers are required to test the driver involved for alcohol and controlled substances as soon as is practical following the crash. However, if the employer fails to administer a drug test within 32 hours of the accident or an alcohol test within eight hours of the crash, the employer must cease its attempts to perform these tests. The employer is then required to document the reason why these tests were not administered.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Truck Accidents?
The safe operation of a semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle requires substantial training and experience. Not only must drivers know how to maneuver an 18-wheeler, but they must also be able to exercise that knowledge and use sound judgment at all times. When human error – whether from drivers, trucking companies, or parts manufacturers – causes a wreck, the results can be life-altering for those involved. A Baltimore truck accident lawyer can help you seek justice in a wide range aff accident types, which may include the following:
Jackknife Truck Accidents
Large commercial trucks have cabs and trailers. When the trailer of a big rig pushes the cab to one side or all the way around so that it faces backward, it is known as a “jackknife.”
Jackknife accidents do not usually occur in good weather with well-trained drivers behind the wheel. They are generally preventable accidents that result from driver error – often during bad weather or poor road conditions. Drivers of tractor-trailers are specifically trained to operate trucks in adverse conditions and should know how to avoid these types of wrecks.
Underride Truck Accidents
Underride truck accidents occur when a smaller passenger vehicle gets crushed beneath the trailer of an 18-wheeler. Although these types of truck accidents can happen for a number of reasons, they often result from the negligence of a truck driver.
Right Turn Squeeze Truck Accidents
When the driver of a tractor-trailer makes a tight right turn, he or she may prepare for the maneuver by initially swinging to the left before turning to the right. This can pose a threat to vehicles on either side of the truck.
In these situations, even though the truck’s turn signal is indicating a right turn, the initial swing to the left places the cab in the left lane. This frequently results in side-impact collisions with other vehicles.
In addition, when drivers of passenger vehicles see trucks swing to the left, they may assume the truck is changing lanes and mistakenly believe the right lane is clear to proceed. This can put the smaller vehicle between the semi-truck and the right curb, directly in the path of the truck’s right turn.
Blind Spot Truck Accidents
Every vehicle has blind spots. Whether in the back, front, or on the sides, drivers rely on rearview mirrors, side mirrors, and backup cameras to minimize these blind spots. Large commercial vehicles, however, have larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. These blind spots include:
- The area directly behind the trailer
- The upper left side of the truck
- A majority of the right side of the truck
- The area to the right and slightly forward of the cab
- The area directly in front of the cab
These blind spots are not small areas. The blind spot behind the truck can be up to 30 feet, while the blind spot in front of the cab can be as much as 20 feet. Entire vehicles can become hidden in truck blind spots. If truck drivers are not attentive, there could be multiple vehicles they are unaware of at any given time. Truckers have a duty to drive carefully and avoid these types of accidents.
Rollover And Tip-Over Truck Accidents
Most truck accidents involve road collisions. However, some truck wrecks are caused by tractor-trailers tipping over and landing directly on top of nearby vehicles and pedestrians. These rollover accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and even death.
In 2017, the FMCSA reported that a rollover was described as the “most harmful event” in more than 17,000 U.S. truck rollover accidents. Rollovers were the “first harmful event” in 4 percent of all fatal truck wrecks that year.
Rollover crashes involving 18-wheelers or other types of large commercial vehicles are usually classified as either:
- Tripped: This type of rollover accident occurs when a truck’s wheels lose contact with the road after hitting an object. This can happen if a big rig’s wheels collide with a guardrail or curb.
- Untripped: This type of rollover truck accident happens when the centrifugal force of a top-heavy 18-wheeler causes the truck to lose control and tip over. This can occur if a big rig with an unbalanced cargo load takes a curve or turn too fast.
What Are The Main Causes Of Trucking Accidents?
Truck wrecks can occur for a number of reasons. A truck accident lawyer can help determine what caused your crash and who may be held responsible. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
Truck Driver Fatigue
Federal regulations place strict restrictions on the amount of hours drivers are allowed to work between rest cycles. Despite these restrictions, many truckers feel pressure – sometimes imposed by their employers – to exceed the legal working limits in order to deliver cargo faster. The FMCSA estimates that 13 percent of all commercial truck accidents result from operator fatigue.
Aggressive driving can take many forms, including rude gestures, tailgating, and deliberate obstruction. Other forms of aggressive driving can include frequent or unsafe lane changes, failure to signal or yield, disregard of traffic controls, and excessive speed. While it is normal for drivers to experience frustration while behind the wheel, catastrophic traffic wrecks can occur when truck drivers allow their emotions to supersede their duty to safety.
Improperly Secured Loads
There are specific rules and regulations that govern the protocol for loading and securing cargo. Regardless of who loads cargo into a trailer, truck drivers must inspect the cargo before departing and periodically during transport. Cargo that is overloaded, poorly secured, or unbalanced can lead to rollover truck accidents.
Tractor-trailers are among the largest vehicles on Maryland roads, weighing up to 80,000 pounds. Even when carrying a light load, big rigs can cause extraordinary damage when they are involved in traffic accidents. Unfortunately, state and federal regulations that limit the amount of weight commercial trucks are allowed to haul are sometimes ignored. Not only are overloaded trucks more likely to cause a wreck, but they can also intensify the damage done due to the excessive weight they carry.
Improper Truck Maintenance
Truck drivers are required under federal law to perform specific safety and equipment checks prior to every trip, even after short breaks. When a truck driver fails to maintain the brakes, tires, cab, or trailer of a big rig, the risk of serious accidents and catastrophic injuries increases.
Alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s judgment, motor skills, and reaction time. However, stimulant use to fight fatigue is dangerously common in the trucking community. In fact, in a study cited by the American Addiction Centers, 30 percent of truck drivers admit to using amphetamines.
Insufficient Driver Training
Licensed truck drivers must pass exams to demonstrate their driving skill and knowledge of regulated safety precautions and industry rules. However, inexperienced drivers take to the roads without essential training every year. Trucking companies have a duty to ensure their drivers are competent, well-trained, and able to adhere to all necessary protocols.
Not all truck accidents are caused by negligence on the part of truck drivers or trucking companies. In some cases, a truck or a truck part is unsafe. Defective automotive parts endanger the safety of everyone on the road. These defects can result in brake failure, tire blowouts, acceleration problems, and faulty electrical systems.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Due to the sheer weight and size of commercial tractor-trailers, big rig accidents often result in more serious injuries than typical traffic collisions. Some of the most common injuries sustained in truck accidents include:
Concussions represent the majority of accident-related head injuries, but even a concussion can change the brain’s structure for months after the crash. Other head injuries can cause permanent brain damage or brain cell death. Broken facial bones are also common in truck accidents; these injuries may result from the impact of the collision or from airbag injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
TBI is a serious condition that can result from either closed head injuries or open head trauma (when the skull is penetrated). When the brain or its lining bleeds after a truck wreck, coma and subdural hematoma can result. TBI may cause lifelong mood and personality changes and can cause impaired cognitive function.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Truck accidents can result in complete spinal cord injuries (SCI) or incomplete injuries, causing partial or total paralysis. Depending on the location of the injury on the spine, the damage may cause impairment of the lower limbs (paraplegia) or diminished capability in all four limbs (quadriplegia, also called tetraplegia). Victims of spinal cord injuries often require lifelong care that could cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
Although spinal cord injuries are the most severe types of back injuries, the back is also vulnerable to damage to the soft tissue and bones. Even moderate back injuries can cause impairment and chronic pain.
The extreme force of a serious truck crash can easily cause damage to neck ligaments, joints, and muscles, and even result in a broken neck. Whiplash is a painful, debilitating condition, and one of the most common neck injuries in truck accidents.
A truck accident can result in broken legs, broken arms, broken ribs, and fractures in almost any part of the body. Serious bone fractures often require surgery, casts, and physical therapy. Despite medical treatment, some fractures never heal correctly, leaving accident victims with long-term impairments.
Burn injuries can occur when trucks carry hazardous materials or if the crash causes a fire because of gasoline or diesel fuel. A severe burn can be fatal or cause permanent scarring and disfigurement. In many cases, burns are also extremely painful, leaving victims vulnerable to infection and other complications.
Who Is Liable For A Truck Accident?
A thorough investigation is necessary for most truck accidents to determine what happened and why. This is where a truck accident lawyer can help. A full review of the evidence may indicate that one or more parties should be held accountable for the crash. Individually or together in various combinations, they may include the:
Truck driver error, whether related to speeding or distracted or drowsy driving, is a leading cause of truck accidents in Baltimore and across the country. Depending on the details of the crash, criminal charges may also be involved in these cases.
In addition to operating large commercial vehicles, truck drivers must inspect tractor-trailers before and after each trip to ensure proper maintenance and cargo loading. If a cargo shift or maintenance problem contributes to a truck wreck, the truck driver may bear part of the responsibility for the crash.
Trucking companies are responsible for the big rigs and drivers they send on the road. Carriers are accountable for their hiring and training practices, which include ensuring that the drivers they hire do not have bad driving records and are properly trained. In some cases, a trucking company may share liability for a crash if they push employees to work for longer hours than are legally allowed or cut corners in maintenance and inspection requirements in order to save time and money.
Cargo Shipper And Loader
Some truck companies ship cargo for other companies as contractors. In these cases, a carrier may haul cargo that is sealed the entire time they transport it. The individual parties in these arrangements – the cargo originator, loader, shipper, or transporter – are each responsible for abiding by the applicable federal and state regulations.
If these regulations are ignored, these parties can be held liable for damages that result from their negligence. If cargo shifts or other cargo-related problems arise and cause a wreck, evidence from each party involved with the cargo, including the trucking company, should be subpoenaed and examined.
Carriers with large operations often outsource work to third-party vendors. This may include dispatch work, truck repair and maintenance, or administrative work, such as conducting alcohol and drug tests, background checks, recruiting drivers, or any other aspect of fleet operations. Some carriers work with brokers to acquire cargo shipments for their big rigs. If the negligence of a third-party vendor contributes to a truck wreck, that vendor may be held liable for resulting damages.
Truck Manufacturer And Parts Maker
Some truck accidents result from defective automotive parts, such as problems with the coupling or steering systems, brake failures, or tire blowouts. These could be maintenance issues, but if the faulty truck part or system was defective from the start, the manufacturer or distributor may be held accountable in a product liability claim.
Government Agencies And Contractors
If a hazard on a public road contributes to a truck accident, such as broken pavement or a soft shoulder, the local or state government responsible for that road may be held liable for damages that result. Additionally, a negligent maintenance contractor hired by the government could be held responsible if the work they performed contributed to a crash.
What Is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
The maximum compensation awarded in a truck accident claim varies from case to case. This is because no two truck wrecks are exactly the same. Your truck accident lawyer will work to calculate the value of your claim based on the extent of your injury and the impact the injury has on your life. Depending on the details of your situation, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your current and future:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Physical, occupational, and psychological therapy
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you may be able to pursue damages for end-of-life costs, medical bills, and loss of consortium in a wrongful death lawsuit. Your attorney will evaluate the facts in your case and explain your rights and legal options.
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How Long Do I Have To File A Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations. This means that, in most cases, you only have three years from the date of your accident in which to file a personal injury claim. If you miss this three-year deadline, your case will most likely be forever barred.
While three years may seem like a long time at first, you should contact an attorney to discuss your case as quickly as possible. The longer you wait to take action, the harder it becomes to conduct an effective investigation, gather evidence, and link your injuries to the accident that caused them.
Additionally, a truck accident lawyer can handle every aspect of your case to allow you to focus solely on healing. An attorney can ensure that property damage and rental cars are handled. A lawyer can help ensure you receive proper medical attention from quality, board-certified doctors who can testify on your behalf in court if necessary. An attorney will also calculate the value of your case, identify all potential sources of insurance coverage, and be able to file a lawsuit if the insurer offers an insufficient settlement for your losses.
Contact A Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyer Today
At The Bishop Law Group, we believe everyone deserves legal counsel from a competent attorney with experience and knowledge of the legal system. No matter what legal problem you’re facing, we believe you deserve a lawyer who will give 100 percent effort into representing you.
If you’ve been hurt in a wreck, don’t delay; call the truck accident lawyers at The Bishop Law Group today at (410) 390-3101 for a free case evaluation. With offices in Baltimore and Ocean City, The Bishop Law Group proudly serves clients throughout Maryland.
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How Common Are Trucking Accidents?
The FMCSA reports a total of 479,103 crashes involving large trucks in the United States from 2019-2021. In Maryland, the FMCSA recorded:
- 6,017 large truck crashes
- 2,707 truck accidents resulting in injuries
- 104 fatalities in truck accidents
In 2021 alone, 1,442 people were injured and 43 people were killed in commercial trucking accidents in Maryland.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Truck Accident Claim in Maryland?
All personal injury claims in Maryland, including truck accident claims, are subject to strict time limits. Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-101 sets the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits at three years, stating “A civil action at law shall be filed within three years from the date it accrues unless another provision of the Code provides a different period of time within which an action shall be commenced”
Claims involving wrongful death are subject to the same three-year statute of limitations.
To seek compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional damages after a truck crash, it is crucial to adhere to the statute of limitations. Truck companies take accident cases very seriously. This means that claims involving commercial trucking wrecks have a higher likelihood of going to court. It is important that you begin the legal process in time to ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.
The various deadlines involved in filing a lawsuit are just some of the many reasons why you should contact a Baltimore truck accident attorney promptly after a crash. Your lawyer can ensure that your claim is filed correctly and on time with the appropriate court.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?
It is almost never a good idea to take on a complex truck accident case without the counsel of an experienced lawyer. A trucking accident attorney understands the law and complexities involved with these difficult claims.
Some of the most beneficial ways a truck accident lawyer can help your case include:
- Gather evidence to support your claim, including medical records, accident reports, photographs of the crash scene, etc.
- Obtain evidence from the truck company, including maintenance and inspection reports, employment records, logbooks, etc.
- Establish the cause of the wreck based on the facts in the case
- Identify the potentially liable parties involved with the crash, including the trucker, his or her employer, etc.
- Calculate the full value of your losses, including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc.
- Work with experts to assist in reconstructing the accident and evaluating the long-term effects of your injuries
- Negotiate a fair settlement with insurers
Trucking accident attorneys can also advise you when it is appropriate to take your case to court. A lawyer can prepare your case for trial and fight for the maximum compensation to which you may be entitled under Maryland law.
What Evidence Is Used in a Truck Wreck Case?
In the immediate aftermath of a serious truck crash, it can be difficult to take in the enormity of the situation. You may be severely injured, and ensuring your health and safety should be your first and only priority.
This is where a Baltimore truck accident lawyer can really help. Your attorney will work with investigators and other experts to gather evidence to support your claim. Examples of the types of evidence that may be gathered include:
- Evidence of injuries: Medical records and expert testimony can establish the severity and nature of your injuries. This evidence can also be used to prove that the truck collision caused the injuries you sustained.
- Evidence of fault: Truck accident claims, like other personal injury claims, hinge on the concept of negligence. Your attorney will work to prove that the other party or parties acted negligently, and harmed you as a result. Physical evidence (such as vehicle damage, skid marks, trucking logs, maintenance reports, employment records, etc.) can help to establish who is responsible for the crash.
- Evidence of damages: In addition to proving fault and harm, the evidence must show that the truck wreck caused you to sustain economic and non-economic losses.
In order to prove that you are entitled to damages in a successful truck accident claim, evidence and testimony from experts familiar with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are critical. An experienced lawyer will know what constitutes a just settlement offer and when it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit and take your case to court.
How Is Negligence Determined in a Truck Accident Case?
In order to obtain compensation in a truck accident claim, you must prove that the wreck was the result of negligence on the part of the truck driver and/or other liable parties. To prove negligence, you must establish that the at-fault party or parties:
- Owed you a duty of care (i.e., had a legal responsibility to avoid causing you harm; this could include driving the speed limit/maintaining a safe speed for conditions, abiding by federal trucking regulations, etc.)
- Breached this duty through carelessness, recklessness, or wrongdoing
- Caused your injuries and losses as a result of their breach of duty
Insurance companies notoriously try to pay as little as possible in these cases and often attempt to pay nothing at all, claiming that fault for the crash lies elsewhere.
Insurance requirements for motor carriers have been instituted by FMCSA. Your truck accident attorney will evaluate the amount of insurance coverage available and seek the full amount you deserve.
Are Truck Drivers Tested for Alcohol and Drugs After a Crash?
Testing for controlled substances and alcohol is required for any truck accident that involves a fatality. Trucking companies may also be required to test their drivers in certain circumstances that involve bodily injury and/or disabling damage to a vehicle (see Code of Federal Regulations § 382.303).
When Does a Truck Accident Need to Be Reported?
Under Maryland Transportation Code § 20-107 (a), “The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to or death of any person shall, within 15 days after the accident, report the matter in writing to the Administration.”
If you need help with any step of the legal process, the Baltimore truck accident attorneys at The Bishop Law Group can help. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.