The mass production of cars that are equipped with autopilot technology is now a reality. For the most part, the technology works well and is generally accepted to be safe. However, many are concerned that the increased prevalence of these vehicles will result in a spike in Maryland truck accidents.
In fact, earlier this month, another fatal collision involving a Tesla vehicle occurred on a Florida highway. According to a recent news report, the crash occurred when an eastbound semi-truck came to a stop at a stop sign. After the semi-truck entered the intersection in preparation to make a left-hand turn, a south-bound Tesla crashed into the side of the truck. Apparently, neither the car’s autopilot technology nor the driver of the Tesla saw the truck enter the highway.
The collision sheared the roof off of the Tesla, and the car continued in auto-pilot mode for another 500 yards before coming to a complete stop. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders.
The crash is reminiscent of the 2016 fatal truck accident involving another Tesla model, where the car’s autopilot technology failed to notice a truck that had entered the intersection. That accident triggered a federal investigation lasting over a year. Ultimately, however, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined that there was no defect in the autopilot technology and thus a recall was unnecessary.
The most recent accident is still under investigation by local authorities, and it remains to be seen if federal investigators will open up a case. At this point, it is unclear if a problem with the autopilot technology caused the collision.
The tragic accident described above is referred to as an underride accident, which is one of the deadliest types of truck accidents. An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle collides with a semi-truck and ends up being wedged underneath the truck. These are so deadly because they often result in the occupants of the vehicle being decapitated or sustained serious injuries to their head or neck.
All semi-trucks are required to have underride guards on the rear of the truck; however, side-underride guards are still considered optional safety equipment. There has been a push by some lawmakers to make side-underride guards mandatory; however, this movement has not yet gained significant traction.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, or any Maryland car accident involving a vehicle with autopilot technology, our dedicated team of Maryland personal injury attorneys can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland truck accident attorney today.
Typically, when someone is injured in a Maryland truck accident, to successfully recover for their injuries, the accident victim must be able to establish that the driver violated a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, and that this violation was the cause of their injuries. In most cases, establishing that a duty was owed to an accident victim is straightforward because motorists owe all other motorists a duty of care to follow all traffic laws and safely operate their vehicle.
The determination of whether the defendant violated a duty that was owed to another driver, however, can be quite tricky in some circumstances. In fact, in many Maryland truck accident cases, this is the most contested issue because, although the standard is supposed to be an objective one, there is an element of subjectivity anytime a jury is asked to weigh in on another’s conduct.
Under the doctrine of negligence per se, however, if the defendant is found to have violated a qualifying statute, that defendant may be presumed to have been negligent. Thus, in these cases, courts look to the fact that the defendant violated a particular statute rather than try to determine whether the defendant breached a duty that was owed to the plaintiff. In other words, the law prescribes the defendant’s duty. This means that aside from showing the defendant violated the statute, the plaintiff must only show that the defendant’s violation of the statute was the proximate cause of their injuries.
Negligence per se typically applies to criminal statutes or those laws that are concerned with protecting the safety of citizens. For example, if someone is injured in a Maryland truck accident that was caused by a drunk driver, negligence per se may apply because the drunk-driving statute was passed to protect people from drunk drivers.
In Maryland, the more common approach taken by courts is that a violation of a statute will be considered evidence of negligence, but not necessarily negligence per se. The difference is that under Maryland’s approach, the defendant can present evidence to rebut a finding that the defendant was negligent. If the defendant is unable to do so, it is likely that the defendant will be found to have acted negligently. Thus, evidence that a defendant truck driver violated a traffic law is helpful to an injury victim’s case. Of course, even if a truck driver is not issued a citation, a Maryland injury victim can still pursue a claim based on traditional theories of negligence.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, the dedicated injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have extensive experience assisting our clients and their family members pursue claims for compensation against those who are responsible for their injuries. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
With the most recent storm, many areas in Maryland received several inches of snow. While many people were told not to come to work due to the weather, others did not have a choice and were forced to negotiate the dangerous conditions. Indeed, according to a recent report, in just a single five-hour period Maryland State Police responded to nearly 100 accidents and 70 reports of disabled or unattended vehicles. During that same period, Virginia police reported over 400 accidents.
While inclement weather affects all motorists, truck drivers are perhaps the most impacted. When road conditions are wet or slick, the inherent dangers of operating a large vehicle become heightened. For example, during inclement weather conditions, a truck driver’s visibility of the road ahead dramatically decreases. At the same time, the distance a truck needs to come to a complete stop increases significantly. Thus, unless a truck driver takes precautionary measures, the chance of the truck driver causing a Maryland weather-related truck accident greatly increases.
Maryland truck drivers, like all other drivers, have a duty to other motorists on the road. In addition to following all traffic laws and posted signage, this duty requires truck drivers to take the current weather conditions into account.
For example, posted speed limits are provided as a guideline and are applicable only when driving conditions are ideal. Thus, motorists should slow down when the conditions call for it. Maryland Transportation Code § 21-801 provides some guidance for motorists, explaining that “a person may not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed that, with regard to the actual and potential dangers existing, is more than that which is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.”
Section 21-801 explains that motorists must drive at an “appropriate, reduced speed” when a “special danger exists as to pedestrians or other traffic or because of weather or highway conditions.” The statute lists several other situations where a driver should use an “appropriate, reduced speed,” including when a driver approaches the following:
an intersection in which opposing traffic is not required to stop;
the top of a hill;
a blind curve;
any narrow of winding road.
If a truck driver fails to reduce his speed or increase his following distance during inclement weather, the truck driver may be held liable in the result of an accident. Anyone injured in a Maryland truck accident, or any other weather-related accident, should discuss their case with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, contact the dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we proudly represent injury victims across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in all types of auto accident claims, including weather-related truck accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
When many people think of expert testimony, they envision a professor-like witness discussing complex scientific or medical issues in a Maryland medical malpractice case. However, expert witnesses may be used in all types of personal injury cases, including Maryland truck accident cases.
Under Maryland Code, Rule 5-702, expert testimony may be admitted when the proponent of the evidence can show that “the testimony will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” In a recent federal appellate case, the court determined that a state trooper properly testified as an expert witness.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s recitation of the facts giving rise to the case, the plaintiff was a truck driver who was seriously burned after another truck driver inexplicably crossed over the center median and collided head-on with the plaintiff’s truck. The collision caused a major explosion, which resulted in the death of the at-fault truck driver as well as the plaintiff’s serious burns.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against several parties, including the truck driver’s employer. In support of his claim, the plaintiff presented testimony from a state trooper who was driving behind the at-fault truck driver and saw the explosion. The trooper was also the first to respond to the scene of the accident. He took pictures of the scene, interviewed witnesses, and determined that the wet road conditions likely resulted in the truck hydroplaning. The trooper also determined that the truck driver was on the phone at the time of the accident.
The court allowed the trooper to testify as an expert witness over a defense objection that the testimony was not relevant. Specifically, the defendants claimed the testimony was not relevant because he could not find any defects or skid marks on the road and could not determine how much the at-fault truck driver’s truck weighed or how fast it was traveling at the time of the accident. The case ultimately resulted in a plaintiff’s verdict. The defendants appealed.
On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to allow the trooper’s testimony. The court reasoned that the trooper considered numerous objective facts and found that his conclusions were not based on mere speculation. The court seemed inclined to admit the trooper’s testimony, in part, based on the fact that he not only was the first responder, but also witnesses the accident from afar. The court noted that the trooper admitted he did not inspect the truck’s brakes or attempt to determine the speed at which the truck was traveling. However, the court held that any oversights in the trooper’s investigation went to the weight his testimony was afforded by the jury, rather than its admissibility.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have extensive experience handling all types of Maryland auto accident claims, including Maryland truck accident cases. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an opinion in a Virginia train accident case involving an employee who was injured while working for the defendant railroad company. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of his injuries. Ultimately, the court concluded that the jury’s verdict was supported by some evidence supporting a finding of causation, and the verdict was affirmed.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff worked as a conductor for the defendant railroad. One day, the plaintiff was asked to help make a “cut,” which is when several of the cars in a train are released and left behind. The plaintiff completed the cut without issue; however, as the plaintiff was walking back to a nearby electrical box, he lost contact with the train’s engineer.
Evidently, the train’s engineer became worried after losing contact with the plaintiff and set out to see if anything was wrong. The engineer walked around to the rear of the train, and saw the plaintiff lying at the bottom of a 36-foot embankment. There were no witnesses to the plaintiff’s fall, and the plaintiff had no memory of the accident. The walkway where the plaintiff was when he fell was about 15 inches wide, and the embankment was approximately 70 degrees.
The plaintiff filed a claim against his employer under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, claiming that the defendant was negligent in providing only a 15-foot walkway. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, issuing a damages award over $300,000. The defendant appealed, arguing that the plaintiff’s circumstantial evidence fell short of what was required to prove his case.
The Court’s Decision
The court held that the evidence presented at least raised the issue of causation, which was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. The court began by noting that courts treat the issue of proximate cause “leniently” in FELA cases. Thus, a plaintiff bringing a case under FELA must only show that the defendant’s conduct played “even the slightest” role in bringing about their injury.
Here, the court acknowledged that the plaintiff presented no direct evidence of how he fell, and that his case relied entirely on circumstantial evidence. However, the court was explained that direct evidence of causation is not always required. In the end, the court reasoned that the jury could reasonably infer from the evidence presented that the plaintiff fell because the walkway was only 15 inches wide.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Workplace Accident?
If you or a loved one works in the railroad industry and have recently been injured on the job, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent injury victims and their families in personal injury and wrongful death cases across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation against those responsible for your injuries, call 410-654-3600 today.
Maryland railroad accidents are more common than most people believe. While trains are not as ubiquitous as they once were in the United States, there is still a significant amount of cargo that is transported across the country by train. In fact, it is estimated that there are about 150,000 miles of active train tracks in the U.S. Much of this track is concentrated around the eastern seaboard, making Maryland a hub for railroad activity.
In addition to active train tracks, there are tens of thousands of miles of unused or abandoned tracks. And while most intersections between train tracks and roads are marked with signage or gates, that is not always the case. This can create confusion for a motorist who may not know if railroad tracks are active. Of course, when a motorist encounters an unfamiliar intersection with railroad tracks, it is always best for that motorist to slow down and check both ways before proceeding across the tracks.
Determining who is at fault in a Maryland train accident can be tricky, and depends heavily on the circumstances of the accident. While not all intersections with railroad tracks are required to have flashing lights or lowering arms, all intersections should be marked appropriately. If gates or lights have been installed, however, they should be adequately maintained. Additionally, the area immediately around the railroad track should be clear of foliage and debris to allow motorists to see if a train is approaching.
One Student Killed When His School Bus Was Blindsided by Passing Train
Earlier this month, one student was killed and another seriously injured when the school bus carrying the two students crossed a railroad track in front of an oncoming train. According to a recent news report, the school bus driver came to a complete stop before the intersection with the tracks, and then proceeded to cross. However, he must not have seen the oncoming train, which broadsided the bus.
The intersection where the fatal train accident occurred was not marked with any signage, gates, or warning lights. However, one witness to the crash told reporters that they could hear the train’s horn sounding as it approached the intersection.
Police have begun an investigation into the accident, and have spoken to the bus driver. A school district spokesperson told reporters that the driver joined the district last August, and had a clean driving record when he was hired. Police have not yet determined if the bus driver will face any criminal charges as a result of his role in the accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Train Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland train or other large truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Due to the nature of the railroad industry, Maryland railroad accident cases should be handled by attorneys who are experienced in such matters. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent clients across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. in all types of Maryland transportation accident cases, including Maryland train accident cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
One of the most important issues in any Maryland personal injury case is determining which parties may be responsible for an accident victim’s injuries. This is especially important because accident victims typically only get one chance to bring their case, and if a potentially liable defendant is not named in a case the plaintiff may lose their ability to recover altogether.
In most Maryland truck accidents, certain parties should always be considered as potential defendants. For example, the person driving the truck, the owner of the truck, and the company that employed the truck driver are commonly named as defendants. However, there may be additional parties who are responsible for an accident victim’s injuries. A recent case discusses whether a mechanic was liable for injuries caused by a forklift.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was employed as a truck driver. The plaintiff parked his truck at his employer’s warehouse, and other employees began to unload the truck. As one of the other employees was using a forklift to unload the truck’s cargo, the driver ran over the plaintiff’s foot, resulting in serious injuries. The forklift was not manufactured with a back-up alarm, and did not have one installed at the time of the accident.
Evidently, the forklift was owned by the plaintiff’s employer, who had a service contract with a maintenance company. The service contract stated that the maintenance company would perform routine and preventative maintenance on the forklift. Apparently, a few months before the accident the forklift was inspected by an employee of the maintenance company. At the end of that inspection, no recommendations were made regarding the installation of a back-up alarm.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the maintenance company, arguing its negligence in failing to install a back-up alarm contributed to his injuries. The defendant argued that industry standard practices do not call for back-up alarms to be installed, and that it was not required to recommend or install optional safety equipment.
The Court’s Opinion
The court agreed with the maintenance company and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that while the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care to warn the employer of known safety hazards, the defendant did not breach that duty by failing to recommend or install a back-up alarm. The court was persuaded by the fact that the forklift never had a back-up alarm installed and OSHA industry standards do not call for back-up alarms to be installed on forklifts.
The court’s analysis appears to hint that, had the forklift been equipped with a back-up alarm that had malfunctioned before the defendant inspected it, the defendant may be liable if it failed to fix the broken alarm. However, as that was not the case here, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Warehouse Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured at work or while visiting another’s property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. At the Maryland law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent injury victims in all types of personal injury claims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more about how we can help you recover for the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-2600 today.
One question that frequently comes up when discussing how a Maryland truck accident victim can recover for their injuries is whether the at-fault truck driver’s employer can also be held responsible. As is often the case with legal determinations, the answer depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the relationship between the parties.
Employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior. As a general matter, to establish an employer’s liability a plaintiff must show that the employee’s allegedly negligent actions were within the scope of their employment.
Under Maryland case law, courts look beyond the question of whether the employee’s actions occurred while the employee was working for the employer, and focus instead on whether the employee’s actions were in furtherance of the employer’s business. Simplified, courts look to whether the employee’s actions were incidental to their job. However, before courts get to this question the plaintiff must first establish that an employee/employer relationship existed. A recent case illustrates how this situation may arise.
According to the court’s opinion, a truck driver ran a stop sign and crashed into a car, killing three of the occupants inside. A subsequent investigation revealed that the truck driver had been on the road longer than permitted under applicable laws and had consumed alcohol within four hours of the accident.
The truck driver was paid by a logistics company. At the time of the accident, the truck driver was driving a truck displaying the logistics company’s logo. However, the logistics company had a business relationship with another brokerage firm through which the logistics company procured business. The brokerage firm would locate customers needing transport services and assign the job to the logistics company. As a part of the agreement, the logistics company would keep at least one driver on-call at all times, and would not work with other brokerage firms. The agreement also provided that the logistics company was responsible for hiring and training drivers, and would submit documentation indicating a driver had the appropriate permits.
The family members of those killed in the accident filed a claim against the brokerage firm, claiming that it was responsible for the negligence of the truck driver. However, the court concluded that the truck driver was an independent contractor of the brokerage firm, rather than an employee. In coming to this conclusion, the court considered the extent of control exercised over the details of the work, how the driver was paid, how long the driver had worked for the company, the customs of the industry and several other factors.
Needless to say, the determination of whether a truck driver is an employee or an independent contractor is highly fact-specific. Thus, anyone who has been injured in a Maryland truck accident should consult with a dedicated Maryland truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we have a decades-long history of zealously representing accident victims in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
When most people think of a Maryland truck accident, they visualize images of an overturned semi-truck on the highway. Indeed, most Maryland truck accidents occur on the highway and these are the most often seen examples of truck accidents. However, there are many other types of truck accidents, including those involving construction vehicles, tow trucks, and other heavy equipment.
Most heavy equipment accidents involve the employees who are working around these dangerous machines and vehicles. Given the fact that the accident victims agree to work around these, certain issues arise that may not come up in traditional truck accident cases. A recent state appellate decision illustrates the scope of a release of liability waiver that was signed by an accident victim.
According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was injured while she was standing in a “non-spectator restricted area” on the Daytona International Speedway. Evidently, the plaintiff was standing in the pit-stop area while employees of the racetrack instructed a tow-truck to back-up. The employees gave the all-clear to the tow-truck driver, who backed up over the plaintiff.
While the court’s opinion does not explicitly state the reason for the plaintiff being in the pit-stop area, it appears she was a member of one of the racer’s maintenance team. Thus, before being admitted onto the raceway, the plaintiff was asked to sign a release of liability waiver, which stated that she acknowledged the risks involved with being on the raceway and agreed not to pursue a claim against the racetrack. The release applied to “all negligent acts” of the racetrack and its employees.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the racetrack, arguing that it was grossly negligent. The racetrack argued that the plaintiff was precluded from bringing the lawsuit based on her execution of the release.
The court had to determine two issues: 1.) whether the release signed by the plaintiffs could apply to grossly negligent acts of the defendant and, 2.) if so, whether the evidence supported a finding that the defendant racetrack was grossly negligent. The court decided both issues in favor of the plaintiff.
The court explained that although the release stated it applied to “all negligent acts” of the defendant, it did not apply to acts of gross negligence. Because the plaintiff pled her case under a theory of gross negligence, the release did not bar her claim.
Without much analysis, the court then went on to determine that the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to show that the racetrack, through its employees, was grossly negligent. The court, however, reserved the ultimate determination for the jury.
Are You Looking for a Maryland Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you have recently been the victim of a Maryland truck accident or any other type of accident involving heavy equipment or machinery, you might be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience bringing cases on behalf of injured clients in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you or your loved one has sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.
Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing an important evidentiary concept that frequently arises in Maryland personal injury cases. The case required the court to determine whether evidence of the plaintiff’s mental health issues and intoxication should be admitted under the rules of evidence.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed when she was struck by a truck that was driving at a low speed. The evidence was conflicting, but the ultimate issue in the case was whether the plaintiff walked out in front of the truck and, if so, whether the truck driver waved toward the plaintiff to go ahead of him.
The defense wanted to introduce evidence that the plaintiff suffered from mental health issues and had alcohol and drugs in her system at the time of the accident. The plaintiff objected, arguing that the proposed evidence was far more prejudicial than it was probative, and thus should be excluded.
Maryland Rule of Evidence 403
In order to be admissible, evidence must be relevant. However, even relevant evidence may be excluded under other rules of evidence. For example, Maryland Rule of Evidence 403 precludes the admission of evidence for which the “probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.”
Thus, when facing unfavorable evidence, a party will often attempt to keep that evidence out by claiming that it is more prejudicial than it is probative. When an objection is made under Rule 403 to the admission of evidence, courts engage in a balancing test, weighing probative value versus unfair prejudice. However, all adverse evidence is, by its very nature, prejudicial, so courts are only concerned with prejudice that is unfair. For example, in the case discussed above the plaintiff argued that there was no evidence the woman was intoxicated at the time of the accident and that the jury may attach a negative stigma to her mental health issues. Of course, this type of thought has no legal basis and would constitute unfair prejudice.
Back to the Case
In this case, the court determined that the evidence was more probative than it was prejudicial and held that it was improperly excluded from the trial. The court explained that the ultimate question in the case was why the plaintiff stepped in front of the truck, and both the plaintiff’s mental health issues and her drug use was relevant to that inquiry.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any type of Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland truck accident law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent injury victims in all types of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. auto accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.