Maryland Trucking Accidents Stemming from Unsafe Loading Practices
Many of the trucking-related traffic accidents that take place on Maryland interstates, highways and beltways are the result of poor truck maintenance or improper operation. While most traffic collisions involving cars and large trucks may appear to be quite similar to a layperson, there are significant differences from the standpoint of filing a claim against the negligent party due to bodily injury or death. As Baltimore personal injury experts, the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, knows that road wrecks involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) can hardly be handled in the same fashion as accidents between passenger vehicles such as sedans, minivans and SUVs.
Because of the many different entities involved in the operation, maintenance and use of 18-wheelers and other commercial delivery trucks, a law firm handling personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits must understand all aspects of Maryland law as pertains to the trucking industry, as well as the laws that govern those insurance carriers that provide coverage for transportation and shipping companies. Similarly, it is essential that any competent traffic injury attorney possess a comprehensive knowledge of the finer points of federal and state CMV rules and regulations.
Not only should a trucking accident lawyer understand the extensive amount of case law in this area, he or she must have the expertise to know the important differences between automobile and trucking-related injury claims cases. Our skilled trial lawyers understand not only the critical legal considerations surrounding trucking-related injury accidents, but our staff also has the training and experience needed to investigate these unique types of roadway crashes, such as obtaining the often important cache of vehicle operation data contained in the “black boxes” installed on most big rig trucks and semi tractor-trailers.
While information stored in a truck’s black box may be very important, it provides only one piece of a complex puzzle when preparing a personal injury lawsuit. One of the critical areas of commercial truck operation is the proper loading of the truck and/or its trailer prior to hitting the road. While the average person may not immediately realize the potentially life-threatening consequences of improper cargo loading, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are well aware of the serious problems that can arise from poor loading procedures.
An unsafely distributed or improperly secured cargo load can be an accident just waiting to happen, especially if a commercial truck’s maneuvering causes that load to shift inside a closed trailer, or literally fall off an open or flatbed trailer. All around the country, CMVs hauling bulky and heavy goods occasionally lose some or all of their cargo unexpected on highways and surface streets. The result can be multiple-vehicle accidents with tragic results for any number of victims, some of whom may be pedestrians or innocent bystanders.
As professional automobile and trucking injury experts, we know of a number of typical scenarios that can result in serious bodily injury or death. Transported cargo that is unsecured or poorly loaded can not only prove to be dangerous for other motorists, but also for the trucker who is operating the vehicle. Examples of potentially deadly cargo-related conditions leading to a roadway wreck can include:
- Landscaping company pickup trucks or trailers with unsecured lawn equipment
- Commercial dump trucks carrying rock, broken concrete, or other construction-related materials
- Flatbed trucks or trailers hauling bulldozers or other heavy construction machinery
- Poorly loaded stake trucks carrying unbalanced or unsafely loaded items, such as household appliances or barrel containing toxic or caustic liquid
- Rental trucks and trailers (such as those from U-Haul, Penske, Enterprise, etc.) with faulty or inoperative rear doors
The above-mentioned examples are just a small sample of the many cargo-related dangers that threaten the safety of motorists every day in and around cities such as Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Rockville, Gaithersburg and Columbia. If you have been hurt as a result of a truck’s cargo that was incorrectly loaded and subsequently fell off, or that caused a truck driver to lose control of his vehicle, there may be negligence involved. If the truck driver, loading company or fleet owner violated state or federal trucking regulations there may be sufficient grounds for a personal injury claim.
At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our auto, trucking and motorcycle accident lawyers understand the hazards presented by unsafe loading, unsecured cargo and shifting payloads. Exposing the public to these preventable threats should not be tolerated. Anyone who has lost a loved one due to careless operation of a commercial truck or negligence in loading or maintenance of a transport trailer should contact a qualified Maryland wrongful death attorney to learn more about their legal rights.
If an innocent person has been severely injured as a result of a trailer weight or load violation, an unbalanced or improperly secured load, or shifting/dropped cargo, we highly recommend that he or she contact a legal professional for advice and counsel. If a trucker or the company for which he drives ignores weight restrictions or other safety-related regulations, a resulting trailer rollover incident or rear-ending accident may not be the result of a simple mistake, but the outcome of a conscious decision to sidestep safety regulations in pursuit of greater profits.
Aside from the obvious risks associated with the large and often massive 18-wheeler tractor-trailer rigs that ply our state’s roadways, motorists cannot know when a truck or its trailer is not loaded properly. As such, federal law places the burden of maintaining safe vehicle operation on truckers to make certain that the cargo they are transporting is adequately secured (for example, the rules found in FMCSA regulation 49 CFR Section 392.9). As legal experts, we know that a truck driver cannot usually claim ignorance as to the manner in which another party loaded his vehicle. We also know that FMCSA regulations require every trucker to regularly inspect his or her cargo during transit.
Having practiced personal injury law in Maryland for many years, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that injury-related traffic accidents are not unique occurrences. While trucking-related crashes may not be as frequent as automobile collisions, the consequences of a commercial trucking accident can be many times more serious. Surviving a CMV-related traffic wreck sometimes means being confined to a hospital bed for weeks or even months.
Following a trucking accident, the costs related to extended medical care, emergency surgeries, and long-term nursing assistance can often be too much for any one person to bear. Choosing the best possible legal representation can go a long way toward allaying the fear of financial devastation in the wake of a negligence-related car or trucking collision. Your physical well-being should be of primary concern, but so should your financial health, and that of your family. If you believe you may have a strong basis for a personal injury claim against a negligent truck driver or trucking firm, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready, willing and able to assist you. Please call us at (800) 654-1949; or you may email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation.