Fatal Trucking-Related Chain Reaction Roadway Collisions
Nothing can be quite as frightening for the average motorist than a highway or interstate traffic accident. Unlike automobile and truck collisions in the city, which often involve slower vehicle speeds, a high-speed beltway crash can result in serious injuries, and occasionally even some fatalities. To make things worse, large multilane roadways are usually full of large commercial trucks, such as moving vans, car haulers, tanker trucks and 18-wheel tractor-trailers carrying heavy loads. Being tangled up in a beltway wreck with a large commercial motor vehicle (CMV) can only serve to increase the risk of injury or death to the occupants of passenger cars.
As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, the legal specialists at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, fully appreciate the often extensive physical pain and suffering, as well as the deep psychological scars that can come in the wake of a severe trucking-related roadway collision. While there are remedies for many physical ailments and bodily injuries, the innocent victims of highway collisions involving commercial vehicles should not be expected to bear the brunt of their medical expenses, which resulted from the negligent actions of a professional trucker.
Commercial trucks, such as big rigs and large box-style delivery vehicles present unique dangers to smaller vehicles, their drivers and passengers. Not only must truckers be aware of the dangerous situations that can crop up due to the mishandling of these huge and unwieldy motor vehicles, but other motorists also need to exercise caution in the presence of large CMVs. Even the simplest of driving errors, such as forgetting to signal a lane change, can result in a deadly collision when an 18-wheeled semi tractor-trailer is involved; and especially so on expressways and other rapidly-traveled roadways.
Although the majority of truckers would consider themselves professionals in their field of work, even the most experienced commercial truck driver can have a lapse of concentration or overlook a safety check on his or her rig. However, the odds of being injured by a less thorough driver, or one who is poorly trained, can be much greater. Sadly, Maryland’s roadways are witness to some tragic traffic accidents caused by careless or outright negligent commercial motor vehicle drivers. Despite the laws that are in place to help protect the public from these individuals, there is nonetheless ample opportunity for negligence-related trucking injuries in and around places like Frederick, Bowie, Rockville and Gaithersburg.
One of the more serious collisions that can occur on the interstate or beltway is the so-called chain reaction traffic accident. This kind of roadway collision can be caused by just a single driver, though the conditions must be right for other vehicles to be involved. Some of the potential causes for such a crash may include the following:
- Abrupt, unexpected lane changes in front of another car or truck
- Improper merging or lane change
- Failure to adjust speed to match traffic flow
- Unsafe passing maneuver on undivided highway
- Driver distraction (use of cellphone, mobile device, etc.)
- Driver impairment (consumption of alcohol, prescription medication or illegal substances)
- Lost cargo or shifting load
Whatever the cause of the initial event, the occurrence of the rare, yet potentially life-threatening multi-vehicle pileup is always a possibility when motor vehicles are traveling at highway speeds in close proximity. Depending on the circumstances, as well as the number and types of vehicles involved, injuries are almost a foregone conclusion. The experienced lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen know that the occupants of much smaller passenger cars can certainly sustain serious bodily injuries, especially if one or more tractor-trailers rigs are also involved.
In fact, being rear-ended by a fast moving 18-wheeler -- which is one of the more frequent occurrences on the beltway -- can result in a variety of possible injuries, including cuts and abrasions, deep lacerations and fractured bones, compound fractures and internal injuries, spinal cord damage and neck injuries, as well as closed-head trauma. In especially bad rear-end collisions involving a commercial tractor-trailer, fatalities have been known to result.
The circumstances leading up to a chain reaction pileup can often involve a single vehicle being hit by a second car or commercial truck. The rapid cascading effect of a multi-vehicle pileup can mean other vehicles hitting successive cars or trucks ahead of them until the energy from all those moving vehicles has been expended. Of course, the opportunity for such catastrophic wrecks rises as traffic density increases, which can involve a large number of cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Severe bodily injuries and fatalities often occur when a much heavier motor vehicle such as a fully-loaded tractor-trailer hits a group of already damaged vehicles. With nowhere else to go, and not enough room to bring the semi to a safe stop, the truck can slam into a stack of cars, minivans and sport utility vehicles, thus compressing the chain and possibly causing additional damage and loss of life. Of course, every traffic collision is slightly different, which is why police and crash scene investigators must usually sort through the damaged vehicles to try and determine which driver or drivers were at fault.
Maryland’s statutes provide for both joint and several liability. This means that there can be more than one proximate cause of an injury-related car or trucking wreck. This area of Maryland law can come into play in cases of multi-vehicle or chain-relation crashes where it is possible for a victim to receive multiple injuries from more than one impact (from different vehicles) during the event. For the attorneys representing those injured victims, the challenge is often in determining which impact caused which injury. This only illustrates why retaining a skilled trucking injury lawyer is one of the best decisions an individual can make.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a Maryland commercial truck accident of any kind, we suggest that you contact a qualified personal injury lawyer with years of experience in handling trucking-related personal injury lawsuits. Our professional team of injury attorneys will make time to speak with you about your injuries and the accident that caused them. So that you may be better informed, we invite you to call us, toll-free, at (800) 654-1949; or send an email to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen in order to arrange for a free, no-obligation consultation.