The sheer size and weight of a loaded semi-truck can make any collision with a smaller vehicle a dangerous, life-threatening situation. A 2014 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report found that 73% of the victims in fatal truck crashes were driving smaller vehicles, and 16% of those wrecks involved a truck driver with one or more previous speeding tickets.
Traveling at speeds over the posted limit makes an 18-wheeler more susceptible to jackknife, rollover, underride, and override crashes. Speeding also increases the impact of such a wreck, often leading to major property damage, severe injuries, and/or death. If the truck is carrying hazardous cargo like flammable chemicals or gas, there could also be a spill or a fire.
How Speeding Causes Truck Accidents
Truckers who violate speed limits are often under pressure from their employers to meet delivery deadlines. They might be fatigued or exhausted from too many consecutive hours of driving, which can reduce alertness and slow reaction times. Their speeding increases the likelihood of an accident in a number of ways:
- Loss of control: If a trucker has to slow down suddenly, stop, or avoid hazards/debris on the road, driving too fast increases stopping distance and makes the truck harder to control.
- Load shifts or losses: Heavy cargo is more likely to shift or fall off when the truck is speeding. The loss or movement of weight affects the handling of the truck.
- Negotiating curves: If a heavily loaded truck is speeding through a curve, it’s much more likely to drift onto the shoulder of the road and possibly roll over.
- Bad road conditions: Even when a trucker is obeying posted speed limits, rain, fog, ice, or snow can make the truck hard to control. On wet or slick roads, a truck might “hydroplane” and slide sideways into a vehicle in an adjacent lane. If a truck driver under deadline pressure speeds despite bad road conditions, the chances of a disastrous crash are even greater.
- Blind spots: In front, behind, and on either side of tractor-trailers, truckers have blind spots. Driving too fast makes it even harder for the truck driver to remain aware of vehicles that are hard to see.
Injuries From Accidents Caused by Speeding Truck Drivers
Truck crashes cause some of the most severe injuries that can require surgery, long-term hospitalization/medical care, and extensive rehabilitation or physical therapy. Far too often, they lead to permanent disability or death. Much like injuries sustained in truck accidents by distracted drivers, some examples of truck accident injuries are:
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractured, broken, or crushed bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Head and brain injuries
Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney in Maryland
Because truck accident injuries are so serious and their treatment so expensive, the defendant’s insurance company will fight hard not to give you the settlement you deserve. Paying truck accident claims is not good for the insurance company’s bottom line. It employs adjusters and lawyers who are paid to dispute your claim and offer you the lowest possible award or nothing at all. They’re very good at their jobs, and you’re not likely to prevail against them without the services of experienced truck accident lawyers in Maryland who will know how to:
- Retain an independent investigator and an accident reconstruction specialist to investigate and reconstruct your accident, proving that the truck’s speed was a factor in the crash
- Gather and present records of your injuries, surgeries, and treatments, calculating all medical expenses, past and future
- Calculate your past and future lost wages
- Obtain statements from any witnesses at the crash
- Find video footage of the wreck if there were security cameras in the area
- Put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering
- File claims against multiple defendants (the trucker, the trucking company, maintenance personnel, cargo loading personnel, or others)
- Negotiate with one or more insurance company to get your fair compensation
- Observe the statute of limitations
- Take your case to court, if necessary
Your Maryland truck accident lawyers will not only be familiar with the high level of safety standards truckers are required to meet, they will also know how to obtain crucial evidence that could strengthen your case by proving negligence on the part of the driver. This evidence, which is likely to be in the possession of the trucking company, could require a court order to obtain. This evidence includes:
- The truck’s maintenance records
- The trucker’s driving record
- The trucker’s log books
- The load manifest
- The trucker’s toxicology report
- The truck’s event data recorder (EDR) or black box
The Spoliation Letter
The black box will show vital information, including the truck’s average speed over the previous 30 days, as well as its speed at the time of your crash. However, trucking companies usually erase the black box data every 30 days, so this crucial evidence could be lost if you don’t act quickly. The first thing your attorney will do is send the trucking company a spoliation letter requesting that neither the black box recordings nor other evidence crucial to your case be erased or destroyed. Your lawyer can even arrange to have the data from the black box downloaded to a file that can be saved, so that vital information is not lost before you get a chance to present your claim.
While most states use a comparative fault model when it comes to awarding damages, Maryland is one of the few states that follows a contributory negligence standard. In other states, if you are found partially at fault for your accident, your compensation award will be reduced according to your percentage of fault. In Maryland, however, if you are found to be even one percent responsible for your own accident, you are barred from recovering any damages whatsoever. This is just one more reason why you need an aggressive attorney on your side to prove the speeding trucker was 100% at fault for your accident.
Have You Been in an Accident Caused by Speeding Truck Drivers?
Take the first step toward getting fair compensation for your damages by consulting an experienced truck accident attorney. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us to schedule a free consultation. We take cases on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.