Having practiced personal injury law in here Maryland for many years, we know that the numerous injury-related traffic accidents in and around cities like Gaithersburg, Bowie, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., are hardly a unique occurrence. However, we also understand that to anyone who has been involved in a serious car, truck or motorcycle accident, that event was most likely unique for them and certainly an unwelcome chapter in their life.
At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our team of professional trial lawyers is backed by years of training and hands-on courtroom experience. We believe that the victims of severe automobile and commercial trucking collisions caused by negligent individuals deserve the chance to recover what is due to them by law. Nobody wants to be serious hurt, unable to work and perhaps face a lifetime of pain and discomfort. This is why we always recommend that victims and their families consult with a qualified Maryland auto and trucking accident attorney to understand their legal rights.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are badly hurt or even killed in unexpected and often sudden commercial truck and passenger car wrecks. Finding oneself waking up in a hospital room with any number of serious and potentially life-threatening injuries is shocking enough, yet for many victims of negligence-related traffic accidents the full impact of the event doesn’t hit home until the medical bills begin to stack up. There is little reason to accept that an innocent victim should have to cover all the expenses for his or her emergency room and hospital treatment, as well as subsequent rehabilitation and physical therapy.
As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, our attorneys have the legal skills and litigation experience to handle personal injury claims cause by another careless or reckless driver. Personal injury claims from traffic-related bodily injuries arising from the negligent actions of a commercial truck driver or related third party are just one of the services that the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen specialize in. Our work in the area of car, truck and motorcycle accident law means that we have expertise dealing with automobile and commercial transportation insurance companies.
When it comes to fighting for our clients’ rights to compensation under the law, we are often asked what constitutes negligence in regard to a trucking-related traffic accident. There is a range of different activities or behaviors that could be deemed negligent, just as there are circumstances under which the accident occurred may determine the type and extent of the negligent act(s). In general, driver negligence can include one or more of the following:
A common type of accident that often happens to a tractor-trailer combination is the oft heard “jackknifed semi." It is important to note that just because someone is injured in a jackknife type of commercial truck crash, the existence of negligence on the part of the trucker is not necessarily automatic. Skilled traffic injury attorneys like the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen must look into the facts surrounding the accident to determine if fault can be assigned to the driver, truck owner, or another party.
Like any car, truck or motorcycle wreck, the type of crash is not always an indication of operator negligence. Because every accident occurs under different circumstances, personal injury lawyers must examine the facts of the case, as well as considering the official police report on the incident, in order to decide who may be liable for the injuries sustained by victims of a trucking-related crash. This is because, as in the case of a jackknifing incident, many accident situations pose difficulties for the trucker in which there may be no practical way to avoid jackknifing his or her vehicle without risking some other, potentially worse calamity.
Regardless of the cause, however, it is true that accidents involving commercial trucks -- such as tractor-trailer rigs, tanker trucks, box trucks, contractor work trucks and others -- can result in serious injury or death. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our legal staff is ready and willing to help victims of these often severe traffic collisions. For most purposes, the definition of a commercial motor vehicle refers to a vehicle that is used in the course of doing some kind of business, and/or a vehicle used for the transport of commercial loads. A common example which can be seen all across the state of Maryland is the ubiquitous “big rig” 18-wheeled semi.
Although many businesses employ standard light-duty pickup trucks for their daily activities, these kinds of vehicles are closer in weight to a typical passenger sedan or sport utility vehicle. The most significant difference between a pickup truck, even a medium- or heavy-duty pickup, and a much larger tractor-trailer rig or large box truck is in the mass or weight. Commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are generally much larger and are manufactured to meet a limited range of uses -- a self-propelled cement mixer, automobile hauler or gasoline transport tanker are typical examples. For a person to operate this kind of vehicle, a standard passenger car license is not sufficient; a commercial driver's license (CDL) is required.
Similarly, Maryland’s motor carrier law requires all commercial trucks to be registered with the state. The agency tasked with this job is the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), which is responsible for issuing titles and registrations for vehicles registered in this state. There are different conditions that apply to the acquisition of a commercial vehicle title -- for both new and used trucks.
Under state law, there are different classes of registration for various types and sizes of CMV. For example, single unit light-duty and heavy-duty trucks are classified as Class “E” vehicles, while trailers and semi-trailers come under the heading of Class “G”. Instructions for obtaining a Maryland title for a CMV and registering the vehicle with the state can be found by contacting the Maryland MVA.
Titling and registering a new truck is required, except in some instances, such as when the vehicle is either owned/used by the United States government, or if it is new vehicle owned by the vehicle manufacturer or a dealer and being held for sale. In order to create a title and registration, the state of Maryland will require a certificate of origin from the vehicle manufacturer (also known as a “CO”) and a MVA title application form VR-5. For owners of CMVs over 55,000lbs, the state requires evidence that the federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (referred to as “HVUT”) has been paid. A registration application is also required. A similar procedure is also required when titling/registering a used CMV with the state.
For companies that own and operate commercial vehicles for business purposes, there are a number of steps to follow when registering a CMV. These include obtaining a U.S. Department of Transportation number (for interstate commerce) or perhaps only a Maryland DOT number (for intrastate business purposes). Companies that operate as an interstate “for-hire” passenger or property carrier must obtain operating authority; intrastate businesses that operate vehicles as passenger carriers also need an operating authority unless specifically exempt.
Because of the potential dangers involved in operating large and heavily loaded commercial vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) monitors compliance with government regulations for safety and commerce, of which some companies are subject to both. Maryland requires vehicle owners to have an “apportioned registration” under the International Registration Plan (IRP) if the vehicle is used regularly in interstate commerce and the combined and/or gross vehicle weight is 26,001pounds or greater.
In such cases where a trucking company operates a vehicle on an interstate basis, but the vehicle weighs less than 26,000lbs, only a Maryland registration is required. Similarly, when operating any size CMV strictly within this state, a Maryland-only registration is also all that is required. An apportioned registration (IRP) is needed if a vehicle that travels within Maryland and other IRP jurisdictions is used as for-hire transportation of persons, or primarily for the transportation of property when, a) the power unit consists of two axles and the GVW or registered GW exceeds 26,000lbs; or b) the power unit has three or more axles regardless of its weight; or c) when the combination weight exceeds 26,000 pounds. The IRP is optional for vehicles with only two axle vehicles, or combinations thereof, and having a GVW of 26,000lbs or less.
When a person is severely hurt by a traffic wreck involving a commercial motor vehicle, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen highly recommend that the victim contact a qualified personal injury lawyer with experience in handling CMV-related accidents. A skilled commercial trucking injury lawyer will be able to answer specific questions pertaining to a serious injury accident, which can help to make any decisions down the line easier for the victim and his family.
Being laid up in the hospital following a bad commercial trucking crash is a difficult situation for anyone. Choosing the representation of a qualified Maryland personal injury attorney can put some of one’s fears to rest and make the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit more practical given some patient’s recovery time. Your health is important, but so is the financial well-being of your family. If you wish to file a claim for compensation of medical bills and rehabilitation costs, as well as lost wages, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready and willing to assist. Call us toll-free at (800) 654-1949, or email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.