Although passenger cars and a large trucks share the same mechanical origins, the comparison between these two types of vehicles quickly diverges with size and weight. As most every driver can easily understand, large commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are not only in a class by themselves, but also drive and handle much differently than the typical family car. Even when compared to larger sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and medium-duty trucks, over-the-road tractor-trailer combinations require special training to operate and maintain.
Being much larger vehicles, CMVs by their very nature (that of extreme length and weight) require longer stopping distances and special turning techniques, as well as presenting visibility challenges when backing up or changing lanes. As Baltimore automobile and trucking accident lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understands how quickly a simple error in judgment on the part of a commercial trucker can precipitate a traffic accident involving numerous vehicles. This is especially true on many of Maryland's busy and densely trafficked beltways, interstates and secondary roads.
Every year, thousands of innocent people are seriously hurt, some fatally, as a result of trucking-related traffic incidents. As commuters ourselves, we have first-hand knowledge of how imposing these large and massive motor vehicles can be, and how frequently motorists can encounter them on most any roadway in the state. Because of the potential dangers to life and property posed by CMVs, Maryland's trucking-related laws, combined with federal regulations, were created to help provide a modicum of safety for the rest of the motoring public.
While existing commercial vehicle laws provide a means to punish those drivers and trucking companies who do not operate or maintain their vehicles in a safe and proper fashion, the rules and regulations that are put in place do not guarantee conformance, nor do they in any way completely protect the public from the potentially harmful actions of some individuals in the commercial trucking industry. This is why we have other laws that allow victims to file claims against negligent parties to recover damages caused by those thoughtless, careless or outright negligent individuals.
As experienced Maryland trial attorneys, we are dedicated to providing legal representation to victims who have been badly hurt in serious roadway collisions between passenger cars and CMVs. Whether one's injuries occurred as a result of a crash with an 18-wheeled tractor-trailer, rear-end collision with a box-type delivery truck, or sideswipe wreck involving a commercial motor coach, if negligence is suspected, it is a wise idea to consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer to learn about your legal options.
As motorists and consumers ourselves, we recognize the important role that commercial motor vehicles play every day in our modern world. Without these large, imposing vehicles to haul raw materials, manufactured goods and food stuffs across every state in the nation, our economy would likely grind to a halt. But considering that semi tractor-trailers are to blame for a disproportionate percentage of traffic accidents each year, sharing the roadway with these huge machines can often be viewed as a necessary evil, and most certainly to those individuals who have survived a serious collision with one in the past.
Because CMVs are many time more massive than any car or light truck on the road, a tractor-trailer rig or even a large delivery truck can cause tremendous damage to a smaller passengers car, and in turn, to the occupants of that vehicle. Even in slower-moving traffic situations, the mass of these vehicles translates into a great deal of momentum with the ability to literally crush a passenger sedan or minivan with little or no effort. Besides the usual contusions and deep cuts or lacerations that can be sustained in a "normal" traffic accident between two like-size cars, a collision between a commercial truck and a smaller automobile can cause catastrophic injuries. Internal injuries and ruptured organs, collapsed lungs, compound fractures of the legs and pelvis, not to mention traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage; these are all possible when a large tractor-trailer carrying a full load slams into a smaller motor vehicle.
One constant threat on the beltway or multi-lane highway is that of dangerous lane changes made by a truck driver who is not paying attention to his or her surroundings. Most motorists you have driving for any length of time may certainly have experienced this potentially deadly scenario. Either while passing a CMV, or while being passed, the trucker abruptly changes lanes within inches of another vehicle; sometimes almost sideswiping that car, SUV or minivan and forcing the other driver to quickly steer into another lane himself or onto the shoulder.
Anyone who has narrowly missed being struck by a careless commercial truck driver knows the feeling of instant fear and the queasy sensation afterward having realized how close he or she came to ending up in the emergency room, or worse. Granted, we all make mistakes, but the mistakes made at highway speeds by a driver operating a 30-plus ton truck can result in some serious consequences for the victims.
Unsafe lane changes are just one of the many kinds of potential causes of trucking-related traffic accidents. Unlike a passenger car, a large 40-foot long truck weighing 50,000 pounds can easily strike a smaller vehicle and force it off the road. Depending on the particular circumstances, a passenger vehicle can be caught under the trailer portion of the semi and either crushed by the rear wheels or dragged along beneath the undercarriage. Occasionally, the truck itself will roll over and spill its contents over the roadway, which can include hazardous materials, heavy steel coils or I-beams, or flammable liquid.
When it comes to making a lane change, the federal commercial driver's license (CDL) manual reminds truckers to check their side-view mirrors to be certain that no other vehicle is alongside or about to pass their truck. If the lane is clear, then the driver should signal his or her intention and then check one more time to be sure that a vehicle has not moved into the truck's "blind spot." Once the driver has satisfied himself that the lane is still clear, the manual says to double check as the lane change progresses.
With all of this said, there is little doubt that many accidents are caused by truck drivers who change lanes abruptly and/or aggressively, essentially expecting the motorists in their immediate vicinity to avoid their truck. It could be said that the best way to avoid a collision with a commercial truck is to stay far away from these vehicles. While this advice may make some sense, it is hardly practical on today's busy roadways.
As Maryland motorists, perhaps it is better to be informed and fully aware of all the risks when sharing the road with commercial motor vehicles. Sadly, highway wrecks involving small passenger cars and large CMVs are more common than many would imagine, made all the more worse by our dense traffic conditions. Therefore, if you or someone you care about becomes involved in a trucking accident, we recommend that you contact an experienced legal professional for advice and guidance.
Our attorneys can assist you in recovering damages due you under the law. If a trucker did not perform his job correctly, causing a crash that led to injury or death, we will investigate the facts and prepare a claim against the responsible parties. Our years of experience in personal injury and insurance law allow us to anticipate the legal maneuvers that corporate lawyers use to avoid paying victims and their families what most would believe is just compensation for their injuries. Call us at (800) 654-1949 for a free, no-obligation legal consult, or email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a meeting to go over your trucking-related injury claim.