Commercial trucks serve a vital link in transporting goods and products across the country, Maryland, and Bethesda. These massive vehicles share the road with much smaller cars, SUVs, and motorcycles. When a truck driver carelessly or recklessly operates their vehicle, catastrophic accidents could occur. Because of the weight and size of a commercial truck, accidents usually result in devastating and life-altering injuries.
If you or a loved one was injured or if a loved one was killed as a result of a truck driver’s negligence, contact our Bethesda truck accident lawyer. The experienced lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras are committed to representing you in a professional and diligent manner. Call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur in Bethesda?
Accidents involving trucks on Bethesda highways occur for a variety of reasons. Carelessly ignoring a blind spot, turning at an unreasonable rate of speed, and rushing to meet a tight delivery schedule could contribute to devastating accidents. Our experienced Bethesda truck accident lawyers have represented people injured in multiple types of truck accidents.
Often, a truck driver fails to properly control their vehicle. This could result in different types of disastrous situations. When a truck driver allows the trailer to swing around the truck cab, it will propel forward and out of control. A jackknifed trailer could cause substantial damage and fatal injuries to smaller vehicles in its path.
The blind spots on trucks reduce visibility in front of the cab, directly behind the trailer, and the sides of the trailer. Several vehicles can drive around a truck without the driver seeing any of them directly. If a truck driver fails to use their mirrors correctly when changing lanes, a smaller car could be sideswiped by the truck.
Distracted driving is a common cause of accidents involving all types of vehicles. Any time a motorist takes their eyes off the road, either for checking or sending a text or reviewing a GPS, they put other drivers around them in danger. Distracted driving is especially dangerous when someone is operating a large commercial truck. Because of their size and weight, trucks are difficult to maneuver. If a truck driver is not paying close attention to the traffic around them, they could easily find themselves in a situation where they cannot avoid a collision with another vehicle or they cause an accident on the roadway around them.
Even though federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver is permitted to operate their vehicle, many violate these rules to make faster and more deliveries. Often, this is with the encouragement of their trucking company. This violation of federal rules could lead to fatigue or drivers turning to drugs to stay awake.
Other factors that contribute to truck accidents are intoxicated drivers, poor road conditions, and improperly maintained or repaired trucks.
The Differences Between Truck Accidents and Other Motor Vehicle Accidents in Bethesda
Commercial truck drivers are governed by different rules and regulations than motorists operating cars. A truck driver is required to adhere to separate rules regarding their speed and the distance to maintain between other vehicles. Additionally, a commercial truck driver must approach inclement weather differently than someone driving a car or motorcycle. Trucks are subjected to more rigorous vehicle inspections, while truck drivers must pass various medical requirements and comply with strict restrictions on the number of permitted driving hours. Our experienced Bethesda truck accident attorneys do not approach personal injury lawsuits arising from a truck accident in the same way they handle a car accident claim.
Maryland Laws for Truck Drivers in Bethesda
Commercial truck drivers in Bethesda must obey both federal and Maryland rules. Additionally, a truck driver must have a Commercial Driver’s License to operate a commercial truck in the state. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgates regulations that address everything from required inspections to the hours a truck driver is permitted to operate their truck over a day or a week.
The Code of Maryland Regulations also governs truck drivers and the trucking industry regarding licensing requirements, weight limits, vehicle inspections, and numerous other issues.
A truck accident victim could file a personal injury lawsuit against a truck driver or trucking company if the cause of the accident was a violation of a federal or state safety regulation. Our Maryland personal injury lawyers can help you navigate these complex regulations.
Common Injuries Sustained in Bethesda, MD Trucking Accidents
Because of the disparity in size between trucks and other vehicles on the road, injuries suffered in a collision with a truck could be catastrophic, including:
- Nerve and spinal cord injuries
- Brain damage and other head injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Severe lacerations and perforations
Determining Negligence and Liability of a Trucker in a Bethesda Truck Accident
Trucks are significantly heavier and larger than other vehicles on the road. Because of their size, they present a greater risk of serious injury and damage should an accident occur. All motorists, including truck drivers, have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and to avoid endangering other drivers. When an accident happens because a truck driver failed to adhere to this duty, they could be held responsible for any injuries that occur.
Some typical behaviors that could deviate from the duty to operate a truck safely include:
- Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs or specific prescription medication
- Failing to properly check mirrors before changing lanes
- Not getting enough rest or driving for a longer shift than allowed
- Lacking adequate training and instruction
- Driving aggressively, including speeding and tailgating
- Failing to take road conditions or severe weather into consideration
Several parties could be responsible for compensating you if you were injured in an accident involving a truck. While the truck driver is the most obvious party to hold accountable, our Bethesda truck accident lawyers will thoroughly evaluate the circumstances surrounding your accident to see if there are other responsible parties.
Under Maryland law, a victim of a truck accident could pursue a lawsuit under the doctrine of vicarious liability. This legal doctrine allows an injured person to seek compensation from a trucking company if they were hurt by an employee who was negligent during the performance of their work. Therefore, the trucking company that employed the driver could share responsibility or be independently liable if it failed to supervise or train their drivers adequately. For instance, allowing a driver to continue to operate a truck after prior moving or DUI violations could lead to the trucking company being held accountable if the driver caused any harm or damage. Furthermore, the trucking company could also be held liable if an accident was the result of a poorly maintained or repaired truck.
Sometimes, road conditions contribute to an accident. An uneven road surface that is not clearly marked or a section of highway that does not adequately drain after a storm could lead to crashes involving trucks and other vehicles. Additionally, construction crews could leave debris or materials on the highway. This could lead to construction companies or municipalities being held accountable for any harm that might occur. The Bethesda lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras will examine all possibilities and evaluate each party’s potential liability.
When determining liability, another critical consideration is that the State of Maryland follows the “contributory negligence” doctrine. Under this doctrine, if you contributed to the crash, the driver of the truck will not be held financially responsible for your injuries. For example, if you were improperly passing the truck or were speeding at the time of the accident, a jury could find you partially at fault for the accident. Our seasoned Bethesda trial attorneys will thoroughly examine all the factors and details of your accident to prepare for the event that the defendant raises this defense.
Insurance Coverage for Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies
If you are in a car accident, the amount of money you could recover is usually limited by the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver. The driver likely purchased a certain amount of insurance and their provider will not pay more than the policy limit. In some unfortunate cases, the disparity between the severity of the injuries and the policy amount leaves a truck accident victim with only a fraction of the compensation they deserve.
However, commercial trucks that are used for business must carry commercial insurance. Commercial policies usually have significantly higher coverage limits than the policies purchased by someone driving their family car. It is not uncommon for a truck driver to have $1,000,000 or more in liability coverage. This higher coverage means that if you are successful in your personal injury claim, there should be enough coverage so you could receive the full compensation you deserve.
Available Damages After a Bethesda Truck Accident
Truck accident victims often suffer serious and life-altering injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, a victim could be facing surgery, long-term physical therapy, at-home medical care, or permanent disability. Additionally, if your injury requires a lengthy recovery period or you are permanently disabled, you will lose a significant amount of income. Through a personal injury lawsuit, an accident victim is entitled to seek compensation for all their financial losses.
Economic damages are generally straightforward to calculate. You are entitled to try to recover anything you paid for or money you have lost due to your injury. This includes all your hospital bills, medication costs, and any expenses associated with physical therapy and long-term medical care. As stated above, your financial losses are not limited to your medical expenses. You could recover any wages you have lost because of your injury, including income you would have earned if you were not injured. The amount of compensation could be significant if you are unable to work again.
Non-economic damages are also available through a personal injury lawsuit. Unlike your financial losses, non-economic damages are much more challenging to quantify. However, your potential award for your pain and suffering could be a sizable portion of your total recovery. Non-economic damages include a wide variety of harm, such as anxiety, physical suffering, mental anguish, the loss of consortium, and the inability to enjoy life. Our experienced Bethesda truck accident attorney will thoroughly review the factors surrounding your case to place an appropriate value on your emotional distress.
If You Were in an Accident with an 18-Wheeler, Our Bethesda Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Commercial trucks and 18-wheelers are some of the most massive vehicles on the road. When an accident involves a truck and a smaller vehicle, the results are often devastating. Because a truck accident typically involves multiple vehicles and several parties are potentially responsible for the accident, you need an experienced Bethesda truck accident lawyer representing your interests. Personal injury litigation surrounding truck accidents is often complicated and demanding. The attorneys and staff at Rice, Murtha & Psoras have been fighting for the victims of truck accidents for decades. Call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.