Rear-end Collisions Caused by Runaway Commercial Trucks on Steep Roadways

As long-time automobile, motorcycle and commercial trucking accident lawyers, we fully understand that the average person has neither the legal background, nor the financial resources to go head-to-head with the lawyers from a large trucking company or insurance carrier. It is no secret that big corporations have many times the financial and legal resources of most average people, yet the need to seek restitution following a negligence-based personal injury accident is often imperative for victims.

Large trucking firms and their insurance providers are able to spend great sums of money to avoid losing a personal injury or wrongful death claim in a Maryland courtroom. With teams of lawyers who do nothing but defend their clients against lawsuits brought by trucking-related traffic accident victims, the trucking industry will fight hard to avoid paying out any monetary claim, even though they or their employees may be negligent to start with.

At the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our skilled legal staff has the training and courtroom experience to meet the commercial trucking industry head-on. Our business is defending the rights of innocent victims of injury-related automobile, commercial trucking and motorcycle collisions. Our extensive background in personal injury and insurance law gives us the tools to help our clients recover damages in the form of medical-related costs, rehabilitation expenses and fees for long-term nursing care.

We understand that many injuries caused by negligent truck drivers can result in pain and suffering for years to come. Because of this, we know that the physical discomfort and financial hardship does not necessarily end after the initial surgery following a bad interstate or beltway accident. For the average person on his own, the odds of receiving a reasonable and appropriate monetary settlement from an insurance company following a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) can be very slight.

As Baltimore auto, motorcycle and truck accident lawyers, the personal injury experts at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready, willing and able to help victims and their families recover the often devastatingly high costs of medical care. For those individuals who have been paralyzed or otherwise permanently compromised, we understand that the timeframe for medical treatment and nursing care is years, not weeks or months. Whatever the cause, innocent victims deserve to have their day in court and to receive adequate compensation for their injuries.

The number of fatal trucking-related crashes is somewhat disproportionate to the presence of these vehicles on our roadways. Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while CMVs only account for about three percent of all registered motor vehicles, 18-wheel tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks are responsible for more than 10 percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide. A portion of these fatal accidents, as well as those injury-related ones, can often be traced to negligent operation by the driver.

Many serious injury-related accidents, as well as a number of fatal collisions, occur as a result of rear-ending type crashes. In such cases, whether due in part to driver distraction or inattention, poor weather conditions, or improper cargo loading or distribution, the inability of a vehicle to slow down, especially on an incline can lead to deadly results.

Because the overall weight of a fully-loaded semi tractor-trailer can be upward of 80,000 pounds, it is easy to see that the size and mass of large CMVs alone poses a risk of serious injury to drivers and passengers of smaller motor vehicles. In fact, the average motorist is 70 percent more likely to be killed in a traffic accident involving a commercial truck than in one between his or her vehicle and another passenger car of similar in size.

Depending on the circumstances, a trucker driving down a steep incline must rely mainly on his brakes and downshifting to keep his vehicle's speed in check. With upward of 30 to 40 tons of weight, the pull of gravity on a fully loaded commercial truck is significant. If the brakes are not up to the task, or if the driver does not use proper braking technique, a runaway situation could occur. Roadways that wind through hilly or mountainous areas may have a number of runaway truck ramps placed along the decline, which are designed to arrest a CMV that cannot stop on its own.

Despite emergency runoff areas, which can be few and far between, non-emergency situations can still result in collisions simply because a vehicle may not be able to stop or slow down before hitting another vehicle on the road. Because trucks require a much greater distance in which to stop, a truck driver typically cannot stop a fully-loaded CMV in the same distance as a passenger car. If the truck's brakes fail for any reason the situation can become dangerous.

In some instances, the brakes on the trailer can also become ineffective (due to improper maintenance or poor driving technique) and contribute to a runaway trailer scenario. When a tractor-trailer's brakes become over-taxed, especially on an incline, there is a distinct possibility of a serious crash. Under such circumstances, not only those motorists and pedestrians nearby can be put in danger but also the trucker as well.

If a truck traveling at high speed hits a line of stopped passenger cars from behind, the results are almost always tragic. The sheer force of such a collision can literally crush those vehicles immediately in front of the truck. Sedans, minivans and sport utility vehicles are simply no match for a vehicle weighing 15 to 20 times more. Bad rear-end accidents between car and commercial vehicles have been known to include fires caused by the rupturing of the fuel tank in the victim's vehicle. If the victims survive the initial collision, which can include head, neck and internal injuries, the threat of fire can be life-threatening.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, the staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready to help victims of rear-end commercial vehicle accidents. We understand how just one careless mistake on the part of commercial truck driver can turn someone's life upside down. Due to the many factors involved in most traffic accidents, it is certain that a portion of trucking-related wrecks need not have happened if the driver had been paying more attention, or if his or her training had been complete.

As experts in the field of motorcycle, automobile and commercial trucking accidents, we are dedicated to lending assistance in the form of legal advice and representation to victims and their families. Crashes between car and trucks happen frequently in cities like Gaithersburg, Bowie, Annapolis and D.C. While our legal team prepares every commercial trucking injury case with the intent to go to trial, we know that thorough preparation can also lead to a possible out-of-court settlement, which can reduce the stress and additional heartache for our clients.

For anyone who has been involved in a serious car-truck collision, we strongly suggest that you locate a skilled personal injury lawyer with a background in trucking injury cases. You may contact us toll-free at (800) 654-1949 so that we may help you understand your rights to compensation under the laws of Maryland. Our attorneys are ready to sit down and discuss your legal options. If you prefer, Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen can be reached via email as well. We will be happy to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.