In this age of cell phones, tablets, in-car videos, smart watches and GPS devices, distracted driving is a significant factor leading to truck accidents in Maryland. In fact, distracted driving causes 58% of car crashes and 37% of traffic fatalities in Maryland per year, resulting in 27,000 injuries/185 deaths annually*. And while car crashes are not the same as truck accidents, the numbers regarding distracted drivers are staggering. In the month of April 2019, Maryland state troopers wrote more than 3,000 citations and 3,528 warnings for driver distractions, which fall into one of three categories:
- Cognitive. Stress, physical discomfort, daydreaming, or use of drugs/alcohol can take a driver’s mental focus off the road.
- Visual. Text messages, billboards, animals, passengers, or anything that pulls a driver’s eyes from the highway create a visual distraction.
- Manual. Reaching into the glove compartment, changing radio stations, eating, drinking, or picking up a phone can take a driver’s hands off the steering wheel.
Cognitive, visual, and manual distractions can cause semi-truck accidents, also. However, these crashes are usually more serious due to the size, weight (up to 40 tons when fully loaded), and speed of commercial trucks. For these reasons, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) forbids the following activities for commercial truckers while driving:
- Holding a mobile phone to make/answer a call
- Punching more than one button on a phone keypad to make/end a call
- Sending/reading text messages
- Using email
- Using the Internet
Negligent violation of these regulations can lead to thousands of dollars in fines for the driver and the trucking company, as well as a revoked license for the trucker. However, despite these regulations, distracted driving continues to cause serious truck accidents.
If you’re the victim in a crash caused by a distracted truck driver, neither fines, penalties, nor criminal charges against the trucker or employer will compensate you for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or pain and suffering. To get the settlement you deserve for your damages, you’ll have to file a claim against the driver’s/employer’s insurance company and perhaps file a lawsuit. Obtaining the services of an experienced attorney significantly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation.
Proving a Driver Was Distracted in Truck Accidents in Maryland
An experienced Maryland truck accident lawyer will know how to investigate your collision to find out if the driver who hit you was violating one or more of the distracted driving regulations. Your truck accident attorney can:
- Retain an accident reconstruction specialist to reconstruct your crash and make a report on any indications of driver distraction
- Interview witnesses who might have seen signs of distraction
- Gain access to security camera video footage of the truck accident in Maryland
- Check cell phone records that might prove the trucker was talking or texting at the time of the collision
- Access the truck’s electronic data recorder or “black box,” which could show whether the driver was paying complete attention to the road just before the crash
Because the black box will be in the possession of the trucking company and the data likely erased within 30 days, your attorney will send the company a spoliation letter requesting that the black box data and all other evidence relevant to your case be preserved. If any of that evidence shows the trucker was violating the FMCSA regulations, the violation will be considered negligence and help prove the trucker and possibly the employer were responsible for your damages.
Severe Injuries Lead to Larger Settlements
When an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler collides with a 3,500-pound car, the driver and/or passengers in the car can suffer catastrophic injuries. The injuries can include:
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis
- Broken, crushed, or fractured bones
- Concussions/traumatic brain injuries
- Organ damage/internal bleeding
- Permanent disability requiring lifelong care
Because settlements for such injuries suffered in truck accidents in Maryland are very expensive for the insurance company, its adjusters and lawyers will try to dispute or devalue your claim and offer you a low award. An experienced Maryland truck accident attorney can:
- Negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement
- Put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering and evaluate your damages to determine a reasonable award
- Take your case to trial, if necessary
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
Increase your chances of fair compensation by consulting an experienced Maryland truck accident attorney. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.
Related citations & links: