Recently, a 74-year-old Washington, D.C., woman was flown to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore after she was seriously hurt in a collision on eastbound Interstate 70 involving a tractor-trailer, according to a Washington County 911 supervisor and Maryland State Police. Unfortunately, stories like hers are all to common. If you have been involved in an accident you are probably wondering if you will be able to recover for damages to your vehicle and to you and your family.
Why Accidents happen on Interstate 70
Accidents are an unfortunate event and something that is nearly unavoidable. While safety measures have improved over the years there are still many factors that can lead to an accident happening on Interstate 70. Because commercial vehicles are so unique in their size and structure, there are certain events that lead to more accidents than general passenger vehicles. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Overturn (rollover) – Overturns and rollovers are the sources of nearly 5 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks and 2 percent of all nonfatal crashes involving large trucks. These accidents can clog traffic as well as cause massive damage to any cars that are unlucky enough to be hit by the overturned trailer.
- Driver fatigue – Tractor-trailer and commercial truck drivers have been cited as being one of the most overworked groups of people. They often drive long hours with no breaks in an attempt to make delivery deadlines. While many federal, state, and local laws have been adopted in an attempt to limit how long a driver may be on the road without taking a break, it is still a sad reality that drivers fall asleep at the wheel.
- Inattention – Recently on another Maryland highway, a truck driver driving westbound on Interstate 68 was involved in an accident that caused this road to be shut down for several hours while crews cleaned up the paint that his truck was carrying. The driver cited for illegally texting on a cellphone when he lost control of the vehicle about four miles west of Hancock, Maryland State Police said.
Accidents often happen in the blink of an eye, but the events that lead up to them may begin many minutes earlier, or even hours beforehand. It is important to pay close attention to your own vehicle and those around you. However, if you are in an accident you probably want to know who you can hold liable.
Is the Truck Driver Always Responsible?
No one wants to be on the side of the road after an accident. This is even worse when there are people yelling and screaming about who is responsible for the accident and what caused it. Whenever there is an accident people want to know who is responsible and in the event that they have to bring a lawsuit who can they file against. Commercial drivers usually work for a company, and therefore, this entails you understanding that it might not just be the truck driver who is legally responsible, but it might also be the company. When there has been an accident, some of the people or parties who may be responsible for a person’s injuries include:
- The truck driver
- The owner of the truck or trailer
- The Company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner
- The vehicle manufacturer, including the tire manufacturer, or other parts of the truck that may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident.
Many people assume that because a truck driver can view the road from a greater height that they should be able to see and avoid accidents much easier. However, many people forget that because of the size of a tractor-trailer that even an experienced truck driver cannot maneuver their truck like a car.
Negligent Truck Drivers
Almost everyone has heard the term negligence. But what negligence is may have a different definition under the law than the one you might be used to. If you have been involved in a truck accident, you should be aware that the law has determined that as in most personal injury cases where vehicles are involved the main legal theory of liability is negligence. Therefore, a person injured in a commercial truck accident must show that:
- That the defendant who may be either the driver, the trucking company or another party owed the other driver a duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury. This depends on the circumstances of the accident and the road conditions.
- Next, you must show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care. Generally, the law will state that the driver has “breached” the duty of reasonable care.
- Finally, a person who has been injured in a truck accident will have to show that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care was the cause of injury suffered by the plaintiff.
This is a brief overview of the legal concept of negligence. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to further explain these elements. Negligence law is more complicated than this brief overview and requires that you prove each and every element by a certain percentage.
Contact An Experienced Maryland Truck Accident Lawyer
To schedule a private, no-cost evaluation, call the law offices of Reiff & Bily Trucking at (800) 861-6708 or contact us online. If the statute of limitations expires, your window of legal opportunity will close and you won’t be able to pursue a claim.