In the past half century, the number of commercial trucks traveling on American highways has grown exponentially. There are now more than 15 million box trucks, delivery vans, garbage trucks, dump trucks, cement mixers, buses, and 18-wheelers on U.S. roads. And this means, the number of truck accidents has increased as well, many involving a truck and a smaller passenger car or SUV. If you’re the driver of a smaller vehicle that’s been involved in a Maryland truck accident, you’re likely to suffer major property damage, severe injuries, or death.
Differences Between Car and Truck Accidents
The severity of truck accidents as opposed to car crashes is due to a number of differences between the two types of vehicle:
- A truck requires a longer stopping distance than a car.
- Ground clearance for a tractor-trailer is much higher than for a car, so underride-override accidents are common.
- Because a commercial truck can be up to 25 times as heavy as a passenger car, the impact of a high-speed collision between the two can have catastrophic results. In fatal truck-car crashes, the casualties are almost always occupants of the smaller vehicle.
In order to ensure safety for all motorists on roads where trucks travel, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set strict regulations that hold the trucking industry to a standard of care much higher than that required of the average driver. A trucker who violates DOT or FMCSA regulations and causes a Maryland truck accident is considered negligent and thus liable for your damages in the wreck.
Multiple Defendants in a Maryland Truck Accident Case
If you’re injured by the negligent driver of a private passenger car, your first step toward justice is filing a claim against that driver’s insurance company for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Your Maryland accident attorney will demand a fair award from the insurer, negotiate to get an acceptable settlement, and possibly file a lawsuit and take the defendant to court, if necessary. In a crash between a car and a truck, however, it’s likely that more than one defendant shares responsibility for your damages:
- The trucker, whether an independent contractor or an employee, is usually liable for accidents caused by negligent operation due to distraction, drowsiness, lack of training, drug or alcohol impairment, speeding, or other traffic violations.
- The trucking company that employs the driver can be held responsible for damages caused by employee negligence.
- The owner of the truck may be liable if the truck belongs to a leasing or rental firm.
- The manufacturer of the truck might be at fault if the accident occurs due to faulty equipment (the steering or brake system, for example).
- A third-party mechanic or repair service that was negligent in maintaining the truck may be responsible.
- A manufacturer of replacement parts could be held accountable if a defective part was installed on the truck.
- Cargo loading workers could be liable if they neglected safety regulations when loading the truck, causing the cargo to shift and/or affecting the handling of the vehicle.
Under the right circumstances, shipping companies and trucking brokerage firms can be liable in a truck accident. This can be very important in gaining sufficient resources to adequately compensate people who have suffered a catastrophic injury. Although this area of law is very complicated, pursuing this type of claim makes sense if the evidence supports it.
It’s critical to file a claim against or sue the parties who are responsible for your accident and prove they’re liable for your damages. If you don’t name all liable parties, you might not collect all the compensation you deserve. If you name the wrong defendant(s), your claim could be dismissed, and you might lose your chance to collect any compensation at all. An experienced truck accident attorney can mount an intensive investigation, often with the help of an accident reconstructionist, to identify the right defendants.
Once those defendants are identified, you might have to file claims against all their respective insurers for your damages. If they dispute your claim or offer low settlements, which they commonly do in truck crash cases, you might have to sue one or more of them and go to trial to seek a fair award. Doing so requires an extensive amount of complex legal work that the average person is usually unable to handle, especially when recovering from severe injuries. A truck accident attorney, however, does this kind of work every day and can take the burden off your shoulders while you recover.
Interested in Starting a Maryland Tuck Accident Case? We Can Help!
If you were hurt in a crash with a semi or 18-wheeler, our experienced truck accident attorney can prove liability and handle claims against multiple defendants to get you a better settlement than you can negotiate on your own. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us at 301.790.3600 to schedule a free consultation for a Maryland truck accident case. You pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.