Baltimore Truck Accident Attorney
Trucks are everywhere in Maryland, literally. Just in our state, there were almost 2,000,000 trucks registered in 2014: 1,879,645 privately owned vehicles, 45,954 federal registrations and 9,483 state, county, and local government registrations. These cover a wide range of sizes, types, and uses, and all share the road with significantly smaller motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
Larger trucks and heavily laden delivery vehicles are always a mismatch against automobiles, in terms of size and weight. In a collision, the injuries suffered by the occupants of the smaller vehicle tend to be severe. Nationally, truck accidents killed almost 4,000 people in 2012 and injured 100,000 more.
If you become one of the statistics, do not hesitate to call a Baltimore truck accident attorney to go over your options to get justice.
Federal Regulation of Trucking
Commercial trucks involved in interstate hauling are subject to a host of federal regulations covering everything from the qualifications and hours of work for drivers to the safety equipment that must be on board. If a truck is involved in an auto accident as a result of violating any of these regulations—and violations are far more frequent than most people know—that’s evidence of negligence and gives you a major head start on establishing the right to compensation for injuries suffered in the accident. The first job of any experienced truck accident attorney is to scrutinize the accident and the regulations to identify any connection between the two.
For trucks to carry loads from Maryland to another state they much participate in the Unified Carrier Registration Act (UCRA). This allows neighboring states to keep track of visiting trucks in the case of any incidents. Federal regulations also require that trucks carry at least $750,000 of liability insurance. On top of federal regulations there are also state regulations within Maryland Commercial Vehicle laws. Maryland does not require truck drivers to participate with the UCRA, but through the Maryland Department of Transportation truck’s size and weights are regulated. Between federal and state regulations trucks are highly regulated. This means that if any of these requirements are not followed then you may have a case, especially if it was a contributing factor in causing the accident.
Once the accident has occurred the police will issue a report if one of the persons requires medical assistance or one of the vehicles must be towed. When the report is written it will provide details as to how the accident occurred. When determining who is at fault the theory behind it is normally negligence, which is the failure to act as a reasonable person would. This could encompass speeding, weaving in and out of traffic or breaking any other traffic laws. When talking about truck accidents establishing negligence can be as simple as proving the federal violations were not followed. If you are the injured person bringing suit, then you must prove that the other driver acted negligently and that caused the accident. Maryland accident law is not based on comparative negligence, but rather contributory negligence meaning if you were negligently driving at all you may not be able to recover. If both parties are at fault then it will be important to discuss your options with a Baltimore car accident attorney.
What Needs to be Established Before Going to Court
There are two things that needs to be established in order to be successful when going to court.
1. The injuries were caused by the truck accident; it can be tricky when you have had similar injuries from other accidents or suffer additional injuries from an incident after the truck accident, and
2. How long the injuries are likely to last; this can also be tricky, especially for injuries to the brain or spine, or any injuries that don’t become immediately apparent but develop and worsen over time
When establishing your injuries to present for your case they may be hard to document because some symptoms may not surface immediately or may not be physically seen. It may also be difficult to know how long the injuries will last. However, documenting injuries is one of the most important factors to winning your case either in court or settling with an insurance company. Some of the most common injuries that can be documented either with pictures or through medical tests are:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Head trauma such as concussions
- Any other injuries that could require surgery
Types of Truck Accidents
There are several distinct types of truck accidents. Each is associated with fairly specific injury patterns and causes, and each presents different problems in proving who caused—and should be responsible for the injuries suffered in—a truck accident:
- Single vehicle truck accidents are more likely to stem from hazards in the roadway, driver behavior, and mechanical defects in the truck.
- Head-on collisions with another vehicle that is traveling in the opposite direction generate tremendous forces that usually cause deaths and drastic, severe injuries if the speeds involved are substantial; many head-ons occur because of a driver’s fatigue or health problems.
- Rear end collisions between vehicles traveling in the same direction create less force than head-ons, but severe injuries and deaths may still occur, especially if a large, heavy truck is the rear vehicle; either vehicle may be at fault.
- “Under-rides” are an especially dangerous form of rear-end collisions, in which the rear vehicle is considerably smaller than front vehicle (usually a tractor-trailer).
- In side collisions, one vehicle drives into the side of another; this usually indicates either that one vehicle either turned suddenly across the path of the other or that one vehicle ran a red light or stop sign.
- Rollovers mean that the truck’s center of gravity is no longer within the wheelbase; many rollovers are single vehicle accidents, though they can also result from one vehicle being struck by another.
Accidents Involving Tractor Trailers (“Big Rigs”)
Big rig accidents are a cause of many deaths and truly severe injuries. The very nature of the big rigs or semi trucks unfortunately also makes them susceptible to accidents:
- Limited maneuverability
- Blind spots
- Long stopping times
The combination of injury severity and susceptibility to accident makes it imperative that the drivers of these vehicles be extremely well trained and trustworthy and explains why the federal regulations are so extensive. That also places a great deal of responsibility on the companies who hire these drivers.
Unfortunately, the long haul freight business in which most big rigs operate tends to involve very complicated relationships. It’s often not even clear who owns the rig; it might be the driver, but it’s often a separate transport company or another third party. Sometimes it’s the shipper. Untangling the relationships is the initial step in any big rig accident case.
Delivery Truck Accidents
Accidents involving delivery trucks often involve unique legal problems. A prominent factor is that many companies place severe time pressure on their drivers; UPS is infamous for this. Delivery drivers may place time pressure on themselves for various reasons. These pressures are a strong incentive for risky behaviors that invite accidents:
- Double parking and the like
- Reckless behavior such as illegal passing, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, running lights and stop signs
Delivery truck accidents often occur because of problems associated with their cargo, such as spillage, overloading that causes tire blowouts, and improper loading that results in shifting cargo and loss of control of the truck.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, responsibility for a delivery truck accident may fall on the truck driver, the driver’s immediate superior, the owner of the truck, the party whose goods are being delivered, even a government agency or department responsible for road maintenance.
Where Most of the Accidents Occur
Accidents can occur anywhere, but truck accidents are more likely to occur on highways due to the high volume of traffic and increased speed limits. Many of Baltimore’s truck accidents occur on highways such as:
- 695 (Baltimore Beltway)
- 495 (Washington Beltway)
When trucks are involved in accidents the damages are always bad. However, when trucks are involved in accidents on highways such as the ones listed above the results can be deadly. Oftentimes the trucks jackknife or have a difficult time stopping which cause accidents and backup traffic.
We all know how annoyed we can get when all we want to do is get home, but instead, we’re sitting in traffic on a highway because a tractor-trailer overturned. However, when you are involved in that accident the feelings switch from annoyed to terrified. Trucking accidents can oftentimes have bleak outcomes leading to serious injury or death. If you were on a highway when you were in a truck accident, call a Baltimore truck accident attorney.
Amount of Damages
When determining what to claim as your amount of damages you have to establish the extent of your injuries. Going to court will not solve all of your problems, but it may be able to compensate you for them. It is up to you and your attorney to translate those injuries into a dollar amount. The best way to do that is by being very organized and detailed from the beginning. Getting an experienced car accident attorney involved early in the process is a major advantage. The attorney can offer concrete advice on how to document injuries like:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost time at work
- Pain and its consequences, such as loss of sleep and disruption of social, recreational, and other activity (within the limits that Maryland imposes on these “noneconomic damages”)
- Cost of accommodating diminished function (canes, crutches, wheelchairs, ramps, etc)
How much will this cost me?
When you are involved in a truck accident the question of ‘how much will weigh on your mind. The costs of having an attorney can’t even compare to the amount of money that a lawyer will help fight to get you. When looking for an attorney that is capable and experienced, but that also won’t take all your money. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice we don’t get paid unless you do. When you first come in you will receive a free consultation where you can lay out the details of your accident and an attorney will give you some possible options. Once the case is underway you will pay a contingency fee. This fee is based on a percentage of the final settlement or verdict in the case.
How long do I have to file my case?
In Maryland, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for auto accidents is three years. However, it is best to speak to a lawyer as soon as the accident occurs. As soon as you hire a Baltimore truck accident attorney they will begin collecting all the documentation required for when you do go to court.
The insurance companies keep asking me questions, what should I do?
Insurance companies are highly involved in the accident process. One of the first things that people do following an accident is call their insurance company and report the claim. The insurance companies will try to gauge how much your case is worth to try to settle outside of court. Often times insurance companies will try to get you to settle for what a fraction of your case is worth. If insurance companies contact you to ask you questions, do not answer. Call your attorney before you answer any questions. Having an experienced attorney will bring a wealth of knowledge as to legal tactics in court and when communicating with insurance companies. When it comes times for insurance companies to pay for your medical bills and property damage, they may more often than not try to get you to pay a portion of the damages. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice we take a firm approach in dealing with insurance companies and will work to ensure that you don’t have to pay out of pocket for damages or injuries.
What is the difference between a truck accident case and a car accident case?
There are three main elements that separate truck accidents and car accidents. First, when dealing with truck accidents the injuries are often much worse. In addition, property damage in truck accidents is also much more severe. Second, trucks are regulated by federal laws, which if violated can make proving the case less challenging. Finally, since the law cannot reverse your injuries, you are forced to rely on monetary compensation. Trucking companies, through federal law, are required to carry higher amounts of insurance than most car drivers carry. This reason is because trucks carry much more cargo and can cause much more damage when involved in an accident. The good news for you is that you may be able to recover more money when involved in a truck accident than a car accident.
Get Help Early On from a Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyer
It’s hard to overstate how important it is to get the help of an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. It’s crucial to preserve and gather every bit of evidence in order determine precisely what happened during the accident and in the time just before it. The ability to recover compensation will depend on establishing, at a minimum:
- Exactly who did what, when, and why
- The path traveled by each vehicle involved
- Who is legally responsible for each vehicle’s operation
- Who is responsible for hiring and training each driver
- What regulations applied to the operation of the truck
- Whether any of these regulations were violated
- If so, whether that violation contributed to the accident
If you have been involved in a truck accident, call Baltimore personal injury attorney G. Randolph Rice today for experienced legal representation that gets results. The initial consultation is entirely free and you pay absolutely nothing until you receive your compensation award. Call us today! 410-844-5333