Common Causes of Trucking-related Injury Accidents in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Traffic accidents happen; there is no denying this fact. And, most people who have been involved in any kind of serious roadway collision would rather that the crash they were caught up in would never have happened. Side-impact, head-on, rear-end and offset-types of car and trucking-related collisions are each potentially injurious or simply deadly in and of themselves. But wishing that these kinds of severe traffic wrecks were a thing of the past is not a reasonable expectation in this modern world. Highway wrecks will likely be with us for many, many years to come.

As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, the professional litigation team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is trained and experienced in representing victims of severe roadway accidents here in Maryland, as well as in the District of Columbia. We know that car, truck and motorcycle accidents can and do happen at the worst possible time in people’s lives. The more serious of these kinds of crashes, especially those involving massive commercial vehicles, can change the lives of numerous individuals in the blink of an eye.

While it is difficult, if not impossible to predict whether someone will be involved in a bad traffic wreck that may result in severe bodily injury or even death, we do know the more frequent causes of the more serious of these often life-changing events. By understanding the root cause of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), the public may be able to understand, if not avoid certain situations that might generate a bad trucking-related wreck.

We will say, up front, that the source of some very deadly CMV accidents can often be related to circumstances that nobody but the truck driver himself, or his employer, can control. In fact, one of the more frequent causes for commercial truck accidents -- either on the streets of cities like Bowie, Rockville, Annapolis or Frederick; or the beltway, parkway or interstate -- is one of the most basic: that of driver error. Besides mistakes that can be made by a trucker, which can often lead to a serious crash, there are those resulting from mechanical failures, adverse weather, poorly designed roads, or faulty traffic signals and signage, among others.

As professional personal injury experts, the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that primary cause of many commercial trucking accidents is simple driver error. Although commercial truckers undergo many more hours of training and certification than the average passenger car driver, the noted accomplishment of receiving one’s commercial driver’s license (or CDL) is no guarantee that a truck driver will never make a mistake or driving error while operating his or her vehicle.

Human error has been the cause of many terrible outcomes for thousands of years, and there is little evidence that this simple fact will be changing any time soon. While everyone has known themselves to have committed an error in judgment at one time or another, when a truck driver behind the wheel of a large delivery truck or 50,000-pound 18-wheeler makes an error, people can be hurt or killed as a result.

There is much to consider in the fact that the most common cause of trucking accidents nationwide is a driving error on the part of a commercial truck driver. As such, drivers of large trucks -- such as gasoline and diesel tanker vehicles, semi tractor-trailers, automobile transporters, steel haulers, and moving vans -- are fully 10 times more likely to cause a serious roadway wreck than any other single factor.

Although other causes exist, like poor weather, deteriorated road surface conditions, and vehicle equipment problems, a study published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determined that either improper vehicle operation, or simply inaction on the part of a truck driver was the key reason for nearly 90 percent of all traffic collisions involving commercial motor vehicles.

And while it is true that some factors can contribute greatly to driver error -- such as the taking of prescription or over-the-counter medications, excessive vehicle speeding, inattention or intentional distractions, cluttered or chaotic work environment, etc. -- by far the two most common causes of trucking accidents have been identified as driver fatigue and sleep deprivation. Obviously, potential victims of a trucking-related collision have practically no influence on these factors, which concerns many traffic safety experts.

Driver error aside, mechanical problems with a commercial vehicle are next in line when it comes to causes of serious trucking-related crashes. Equipment problems such as defective tires, failure of back-up warning devices or object detection systems, brake system problems, or engine/transmission failures. Some of these issues can arise from a mistake in materials or manufacturing, or they may be attributable to engineering or design errors. A qualified trucking injury attorney will be able to investigate whether certain deficiencies in a CMV’s manufacture could have contributed to a serious or fatal commercial trucking crash.

Although some accidents can be traced to the aforementioned manufacturing problems, many mechanical failures can be tracked down to simple failure on the part of the driver or fleet service personnel to properly maintain a CMV’s critical equipment and safety-related systems. Some more common and egregious examples include the following:

  • Removal or depowering of the front brakes, which can cause a truck to jackknife
  • Inadequately maintained or adjusted brake parts and components
  • Overlooking excessively worn tires or damaged sidewalls
  • Improper secured cargo or poorly distributed trailer loads
  • Failure to repair of service steering components
  • Improper attachment of the trailer
  • Failure to check and replace burned-out side marker lights or rear brake lamps
  • Improperly maintained vehicle transmission

Being experts in the field of auto and trucking accidents, Lebowitz & Mzhen is dedicated to helping those individuals who have been the victim of a commercial trucker’s careless or reckless actions. Similarly, if someone has been badly hurt or killed as a result of poor or improper vehicle maintenance, our commercial trucking accident lawyers are ready, willing and able to provide assistance in filing a personal injury claim or representing the victim’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit.

As Baltimore trucking-related personal injury attorneys, our legal team can prepare a case with the intent to take our client’s suit to trial. However, we have found that some plaintiffs can often benefit from an out-of-court settlement, which can occur due to a well-prepared case. In such instances, the victim and/or his family can avoid a potentially lengthy trial, recovering damages and getting back to the business of coping with their loss without the added stress of a courtroom battle.

If you believe that your injuries from a commercial trucking accident were the result of negligence on the part of the trucker, his employer, or another related party, we strongly suggest that you contact an experienced trucking accident attorney with a solid background in litigating Maryland personal injury cases. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can help you understand your legal rights under the law. We are ready and willing to speak with you about your case. Give us a call at (800) 654-1949, or send an email to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen so we may set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation.