One underutilized tool for Maryland truck accident lawyers: Freedom of Information Act requests to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While FOIA does protect certain records from disclosure in truck accident cases, you can often get inspection reports, compliance reviews, and other information that defendants either do not have or do not produce in discovery.
Red light/green light cases are maddening to take to trial. Sometimes, an accident lawyer just knows the defendant is lying… but can’t prove it. Often, there is no solution to this problem in red light/green light or other liability dispute car and truck accident cases. There are no witnesses and all you have is the police report. But sometimes, there is proof out there that the defendant is lying because the light sequence report is mutually exclusive of the defendant’s version of how the car accident occurred.
The solution by now for Maryland accident lawyers is obvious: if you have a liability dispute where light sequencing is an issue, get a copy of the traffic sequence report from the state of Maryland.
The problem with big rig trucks is there are just too many ways they can cause serious accidents. My husband just called me and reported the traffic is stopped on the Baltimore Beltway because a truck apparently shifted too abruptly causing the pavers it was hauling to fly out of the truck, sending them across the jersey wall and into oncoming traffic.
There are just so many different consequences that can stem from negligence in big rig tractor trailers accidents that don’t exist with passenger vehicles. Apparently, what happened here is one of those truck accident risks the general public thinks very little about: properly securing the truck’s load. Federal law clearly sets forth a trucker’s obligations in this regard under 49 CFR 392.9
For years, Maryland law—specifically Insurance Code Section 19-513—expressly prohibited the stacking of insurance policies. This meant that for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, the insurer was liable to its insured for the full amount of the accident victim’s damages minus the amount paid by the liability carrier or the Defendant.
After years of criticism for this, the Maryland legislature finally changed the law. As of July 1, 2018, insurance companies who write private auto policies in Maryland are required to offer something called Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage (EUIM). Insureds who chose to add EUIM to their policy will be able to “stack” coverage to ensure they receive full compensation up to their UIM limits. This means that drivers with EUIM can get a policy limit settlement and still get the full policy limits of their UIM coverage.
Here is a simplified example to demonstrate how stacking will work for drivers with the new EUIM coverage and for drivers who don’t have EUIM coverage:
Section 392.14 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires truck drivers to use extreme caution driving a commercial truck in snow, ice, and other inclement conditions including rain. Accordingly, if the weather conditions are not perfect, a truck accident lawyer in Maryland should argue that federal law preempts state law and that the standard is no longer what the reasonable prudent truck driver would do but instead, whether the truck driver used “extreme caution.”
The most serious car or truck accident is a head-on collision. A recent Jury Verdict Research study found that 79% of plaintiffs involved in a head-on truck accident—defined as a truck accident where at least one of the vehicles traveled across the centerline, with a truck received damages—received a damage award. The median damage award in a head-on truck accident case is $ 242,150. I did not see the average truck accident jury award, but I suspect it is well over $1 million.
Head-On Truck Accident Verdicts and Settlements
- 2020, California: $5,500,000 Settlement. A truck driver crossed the double yellow line and struck a 31-year-old man’s vehicle head-on. The man suffered a traumatic brain injury and unspecified injuries to his neck, back, shoulder, and knee. An ambulance brought him to the hospital from the scene. He immediately underwent surgeries to his shoulder and knee. The man sued the truck driver for negligently operating his vehicle. He argued that the truck driver caused the collision by crossing the double yellow line. The man also sued the truck driver’s employer for vicarious liability. The defense argued that the man drove distracted and could have avoided the collision if he paid attention to the road. This case settled for $5,500,000.
There are two fundamental things we need to do to reduce auto accident injuries. First, we have to decrease the number of accidents. Driver inattention is a tough problem to fix, but real gains can be made with drunk drivers and drivers using their cell phones or text messaging.
The second is reducing the severity of injuries after an accident occurs. This means safe cars, trucks and motorcycles that can withstand an impact and occupants wearing seat belts. With respect to the latter, John Day’s Day on Torts reports that seat belt use in 2009 stood at 84 percent, a gain from 83 percent use in 2008.
Most of our country’s fatal car, truck and motorcycle accidents occur on rural roads, according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fifty-six percent of 37,261 traffic deaths occurred on rural roads during 2008. Researchers say that the higher death rate on rural roads stems from a combination of faster driving speeds, poorer road engineering, behavioral influences and slower delivery of acute medical care.
I would think you would have to add more single lane, curvy roads where vehicles are traveling at excessive speeds.
Forklift truck accidents frequently cause catastrophic, life-altering injuries. But the risk is not just to forklift truck drivers. As many as two-thirds of forklift accidents – at least in some areas – involve pedestrians or otherwise innocent bystanders. Many forklift claims involve: caught limbs, running over pedestrians’ feet, and entering or exiting the vehicle improperly. Here are some disconcerting forklift accident statistics:
- OSHA’s statistics indicate that forklifts are involved in about 68,000 accidents each year, resulting in 95,000 injuries
- 10% of forklifts are involved in an accident
In the late 90s, Europeans figured out that thousands of fatal truck accidents occur every year as the result of head-on collisions between cars and large trucks. The EU did something about it and required European truck builders (Volvo, Renault, Scania, and Mercedes-Benz) to develop a front underride bar connected to the bumper and the chassis to prevent the underride effect in truck accidents. Our country, regrettably, has done nothing to impose the same requirements here in the United States.