Frequently Asked Questions for Victims of Baltimore Commercial Trucking Accidents
As Maryland automobile and commercial truck accident attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, knows that the trucking industry and its insurers have huge corporate legal departments tasked with the job of protecting the financial interests of those firms. Some individuals who have found themselves the victim of a trucking-related accident may be asking themselves if there is any potential benefit to seeking compensation in the form of a personal injury claim against a large trucking firm, or any large company with extensive legal resources.
Fortunately, the law is designed to allow those people who have been seriously injured by the negligent actions of another individual the ability to file a claim of personal injury -- or wrongful death, in the case of the family of a deceased victim -- in a court of law. Our state and federal laws give victims a voice when it comes to harm and other injustices suffered at the hand of a negligent or careless party.
As experienced trial lawyers, we fully understand that large trucking companies and their insurance carriers employ dozens of skilled attorneys to protect their rights. For this reason, and many others, we are committed to representing individuals who don't have the financial resources of a large corporation, but who also have a legitimate claim against these companies.
Whether a trucking-related injury accident was the result of driver distraction, improperly secured cargo, poor vehicle maintenance, or insufficient driver training, our professional legal staff has the skills and courtroom experience to fight for those innocent victims who have been seriously hurt in a trucking-related traffic accident on a Maryland interstate, beltway or surface street. We also have the training and legal background to assist families who have lost a loved one in a negligence-related commercial truck crash.
Hardly infrequent events, commercial trucking collisions take place all across the state. With hundreds of miles of public roads in counties such as Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Frederick and Montgomery, the experienced lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen know that there is an almost constant threat of physical harm anytime a large and massive commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is nearby. A sobering fact to remember is that a notable percentage of fatal trucking accident victims were individuals riding in SUVs, passenger sedans, economy cars and family minivans.Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some common questions and answers to help victims and their families understand the importance of retaining a qualified trucking accident attorney following a serious commercial trucking accident.
Q) How does filing a personal injury claim for a Maryland truck accident compare to a non-trucking-related accident case?
A) If one is talking "rule of the road" when determining driver negligence, there is no real difference, since generally most all traffic laws apply to every motor vehicle regardless of type. However, one should keep in mind that commercial motor vehicles are also governed by some very specific safety rules and regulations. In addition, an attorney who is experienced in handling injury-related commercial vehicle accident cases should be able to explain the various types of claims that an accident victim can bring against a trucking or transportation company, as well as the particular facts that will need to be investigated by the law firm as part of the case preparation.
Remember that commercial trucks are much larger than any passenger car or SUV, and because of this, it is important to understand that operating such vehicles requires an understanding of the unique driving techniques and vehicle dynamics associated with 18-wheel tractor-trailers and other large vehicles.
Q) Can I file a lawsuit against a negligent trucker's employer for injuries suffered in a traffic accident?
A) In most instances here in Maryland, the answer is yes. However, this depends on the specific relationship between the truck driver who caused the personal injuries and the trucking company that employs that person. If an employee-employer relationship can be demonstrated, the company can be held legally responsible for the driver's negligent actions under the legal theory referred to as respondeat superior (in Latin, "Let the master answer"). In a broader sense, respondeat superior is related to the legal concept of vicarious liability, which holds the superior (trucking company) responsible for the acts of its subordinate (the truck driver).
Under this part of the law, a trucking firm may also be held liable for the actions of a driver under the theories of negligent entrustment (or, in cases where a driver was not properly screened prior to being hired, negligent supervision). This can happen if a trucking company failed to screen out a driver that it knew (or had reason to know) was either poorly trained or demonstrated previous unsafe behaviors and that same driver caused an injury-related trucking accident.
Q) Does a commercial truck jack-knifing accident automatically point to negligence on the driver's part?
A) On the whole, when a semi tractor-trailer jackknifes it is usually because the person behind the wheel of that vehicle did something wrong. In other words, jackknife-type truck accidents typically indicate some level of driver negligence. In many cases, these kinds of potentially deadly wrecks occur because the trucker "locked up" the vehicle's brakes.
However, since a truck can, in theory, experience a jackknife event in the absence of driver error, the defense will often argue that the vehicle jackknifed due to so-called "unforeseeable" factors, such as a slippery road surface or because the trucker was forced to make an emergency maneuver to avoid a collision with another car or truck. This kind of argument may not hold water, since the physical evidence presented in the case can often show the driver was still responsible for the crash.
Because of the many facets of a commercial trucking accident case, it is best to speak with a skilled trial attorney who has experience handling trucking-related personal injury lawsuits.
Q) What are some key differences between a trucking-related injury case and one involving a passenger car?
A) As for lawsuits brought against negligent parties here Maryland, the rules for determining fault for a traffic accident -- regardless what type of motor vehicles were involved -- are generally the same. However, there are special rules, regulations and laws that apply solely to the commercial trucking industry, about which any competent personal injury attorney should be aware. Other differences include the vastly different handling characteristics between a something small, like a family sedan, and a much larger 18-wheel big rig.
It is also important to understand that there are subtle differences in the way that a trucking accident can take place versus that of a passenger car. Additionally, an experienced attorney will be able to explain the various types of claims that can be filed against a trucking firm, as well as the way in which a law firm must investigate the various aspects of a commercial truck injury accident. Keep in mind at all times that aside from the fact that both passenger car and trucking-related traffic accidents usually take place on a public roadway, the comparison -- in legal terms -- stops right there.
Q) Should I be concerned about filing a claim against a trucking company if the police report says that I was partially at fault for the accident?
A) Yes. This is why you should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to better understand your particular injury accident claim. Here in Maryland, for example, an injured driver cannot recover damages if he or she is at least partly to blame (even one percent out of 100). Unlike many other states, Maryland legal statutes observe what is referred to as "contributory negligence." This is different from the legal theory known as "comparative negligence," which is what many other states use for personal injury cases -- in such instances, if the claimant wins his case, the award will generally be adjusted based on the percentage of fault attributed to the defendant by the jury.
When it comes to serious injuries or deaths caused by the negligence of a commercial truck driver or the firms that employ them, Lebowitz & Mzhen is dedicated to assisting victims of trucking-related traffic accidents, as well as their families, recover damages from the responsible parties. We believe that no innocent victims should bear the cost of medical treatment resulting from an accident they did not cause.
Whether a trucking-related beltway or interstate road accident happened because of a truck driver's reckless behavior, careless actions, or outright negligent conduct, our skilled legal team is ready, willing and able to assist the victims. Our auto and trucking accident lawyers understand commercial trucking laws, as well as Maryland's insurance statutes. If you or someone you care about has been badly injured as a result of a commercial trucking collision, we urge you to contact us toll-free at (800) 654-1949. If you prefer, send an email either to Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen in order to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
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