Under Maryland’s contributory negligence law, a judicial finding that a plaintiff is even the slightest bit at fault for causing an accident can result in the plaintiff being precluded from proceeding with a case against the other motorists involved in the crash. Thus, in many Maryland truck accident cases, a defendant truck driver may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that the plaintiff was also negligent in causing the accident.
Because the doctrine of contributory negligence often results in a minimally at-fault plaintiff being entirely precluded from pursuing a claim against a much more culpable driver, most states have shifted to the more forgiving comparative fault model. However, several states including Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia still apply this harsh doctrine.
A recent case, however, illustrates that mere allegations that the plaintiff is partially at fault for causing an accident will not necessarily result in the plaintiff’s inability to recover for their injuries.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured when he was struck by a construction vehicle. Evidently, the plaintiff approached the vehicle from behind and noticed that it was either stopped or moving very slowly in his lane. The plaintiff checked to see if there was any oncoming traffic and, when it looked clear, attempted to pass the construction vehicle by crossing the double-yellow line.
As the plaintiff was overtaking the vehicle, it made an abrupt left turn directly into the side of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operator of the vehicle as well as his employer.
The defendants argued that the plaintiff should be precluded from recovering for his injuries based on the fact that he crossed the double-yellow line. At trial, each side presented evidence resulting in several vital facts being in conflict. For example, it was contested whether the vehicle was engaged in construction work at the time or was being driven to another part of the construction area. Also in conflict was whether the vehicle’s flashing yellow lights were engaged. The plaintiff’s position was that because the vehicle was stopped and was not displaying any flashing lights he was justified in crossing the double-yellow line to pass.
The case proceeded to a jury trial, where the plaintiff was awarded $3 million. The defendant’s filed an appeal, arguing that the lower court should have dismissed the plaintiff’s case because the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.
On appeal, the court affirmed the verdict. In so doing, the court detailed each of the witnesses’ testimony, concluding that there was an “abundance of conflicting evidence” before the jurors regarding whether the plaintiff was justified in crossing the double-yellow line. Given the conflicting evidence, the court held, the jury was free to find for either side.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Construction Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland construction accident, contact the dedicated Maryland truck accident lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent injury victims in all types of motor vehicle accidents, including Maryland truck accidents. We have a long history of aggressively serving clients across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C and are prepared to meet with you to discuss your situation. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
Anyone who has ever run out of gas or had a tire blow out on the highway knows how terrifying it can be to linger on or around the road’s edge. This is especially the case on any of Maryland’s many interstates. Indeed, it is estimated that nearly 20% of all Maryland car accidents occurring on the highway happen off the roadway. This includes both on the shoulder and in the median.
Not only are these accidents common, but they are also very likely to result in serious injury or death because high speeds are usually involved, and motorists are often caught entirely off guard. In fact, roughly 600 people lose their lives each year in roadside accidents. Many of these victims are emergency workers or other roadside workers who are struck while responding to the scene of an emergency or performing some other necessary task.
In an effort to protect roadside workers, Maryland lawmakers have enacted a “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to vacate the lane adjacent to a stopped emergency vehicle. As of October 2, 2018, the law applies to:
Law enforcement vehicles;
Fire and rescue vehicles;
Department of Correction vehicles;
State vehicles cleaning up hazmat spills;
Waste management vehicles; and
Transportation vehicles.The recent amendment puts Maryland law near the top of the list of states with a robust move over law.
Fire Truck Rear-Ended While Responding to Crash
Earlier this month, a fire truck was rear-ended by a motorist as it was responding to the scene of an unrelated accident. According to a local news report, after colliding with the fire truck, the motorist’s vehicle spun out and came to a rest in the middle of the highway. The driver was hospitalized, and no firefighters were injured in the accident.
In a tweet following the accident, a spokesperson for the fire department explained that “this is happening too often,” tagging #MoveOver. The crash came barely a month after one firefighter was killed and three others injured in an accident on I-295. That accident involved a semi-truck that rear-ended a fire truck that was responding to a crash that had occurred during Tropical Storm Michael.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Roadside Accident?
If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Maryland roadside accident, contact the dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. With our decades of experience handling Maryland personal injury cases, we can assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation against the parties responsible for your injuries. We represent clients in all types of personal injury cases, including Maryland truck accidents and other roadside accidents. To learn more about how we can help you recover for the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.
Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the defendant power company voluntarily assumed a duty to provide adequate light for the section of road where a semi-truck struck the plaintiff. Ultimately, the court concluded that the power company assumed no such obligation, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.
The case is important for Maryland truck accident victims because, although the plaintiff was ultimately unsuccessful in holding the power company liable, it illustrates the principle that there may be parties other than the driver who can be held responsible in a Maryland truck accident. In fact, many Maryland truck accident cases are pursued against the employer of the truck driver, the owner of the truck, or an insurance company.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff set out to go to a convenience store that was located across a four-lane highway with a center median. The plaintiff was crossing from the west side of the road to the east side when she stopped in the center lane to let traffic pass. As she was waiting, a semi-truck struck her, as well as the two others who were with her.
Evidently, there were street lights only on the west side of the street. After the accident, it was discovered that a nearby streetlight “went on and off at times.” The state’s department of transportation investigated the area and determined that there was insufficient lighting during evening hours.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the power company, claiming that it was negligent in failing to sufficiently light the roadway. The plaintiff argued that by installing street lights on the west side of the street, the power company assumed a duty to provide adequate light of the roadway. The plaintiff went on to argue that the power company breached this duty because the streetlight near where the accident occurred worked only sporadically and that there were no streetlights on the east side of the road.
The court, however, disagreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The court initially explained that as a general rule utility companies do not have a duty to provide light. However, the court acknowledged that a utility company could, in theory, assume a duty voluntarily. However, under these facts, the court determined that the power company did not assume a duty to the plaintiff.
The court explained that the power company did nothing to make the roadway more dangerous, and that the power company had no control over the physical condition of the roadway. The court explained that, had the power company caused damage to the road or some other physical condition, then it may have assumed a duty to the plaintiff. However, the court drew a bright line rule that the provision of light over a roadway will not be the basis of a negligence lawsuit.
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 monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing injury victims and their families in all types of Maryland truck accident cases. We know where to look for liability, including employers, insurers, and other potentially liable third parties. To learn more about how we can help you pursue compensation for the injuries you have sustained, call 410-654-3600 today.
One of the most critical decisions that must be made early on in a Maryland personal injury case is which parties to name as defendants and which claims to pursue. This is particularly important in Maryland truck accidents because truck drivers are frequently working at the time of the accident. Thus, the circumstances of a truck accident often mean that a truck driver’s employer and the owner of the truck should also be considered as potential defendants.
Under Maryland law, there are several theories of liability that may come into play in truck accident cases. A recent case discusses two commonly conflated claims, and illustrates why they are unique from one another.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was killed in a motorcycle accident when a truck driver attempted to make an improper left turn as the plaintiff approached the intersection. The truck driver was working at the time of the crash, and was later found to be under the influence of prohibited prescription medication.
The plaintiff filed several claims against the employer of the truck driver. First, the plaintiff claimed that the employer was liable for the truck driver’s negligent actions based on the theory of respondeat superior. The doctrine of respondeat superior allows for an injury victim to hold a negligent party’s employer liable for their injuries if the actions that gave rise to the plaintiff’s injuries were within the scope of the employment. Importantly, a plaintiff does not need to establish that a defendant employer was negligent to succeed on a respondeat superior claim because liability is premised on the relationship between the employer and the employee rather than on the employer’s actions.
Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that the employer was liable under the theory of negligent entrustment. In this claim, the plaintiff argued that the employer was negligent for allowing the truck driver to operate a large and potentially dangerous vehicle. Negligent entrustment claims require the plaintiff show that the defendant was negligent in placing a “dangerous instrumentality,” i.e., a vehicle, in a third-party’s care.
The defendant employer admitted that the employee was acting within the scope of his employment, and then argued that because of this admission it could not be liable under a negligent entrustment theory. However, the court rejected the employer’s argument, explaining that the two theories are separate and distinct. The court explained that employers who are alleged to have hired “unfit and unqualified drivers cannot insulate themselves from a negligent entrustment claim simply by stipulating that the employee driver was acting in the course and scope of employment.”
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a serious Maryland truck accident, you may be able to recover compensation for the injuries or losses you have sustained. The dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LC have extensive experience representing injury victims and their families in truck accident cases across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We also provide free consultations to meet with prospective clients and discuss their situation. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.
While semi-trucks present a serious danger on Maryland highways, the risk of a Maryland truck accident only increases when these large trucks exit the highway and begin to travel through Maryland cities on smaller and more crowded roads. In fact, each year about 450 pedestrians and bicyclists are killed in semi-truck accidents, most of these occurring on urban or suburban roads.
Semi-trucks carry large amounts of cargo long distances, and they are specifically designed for this purpose. Thus, these trucks are large, difficult to maneuver in close spaces, and have enormous blind spots when compared to passenger vehicles. This undoubtedly makes it difficult for semi-truck drivers to navigate the tight roads of Maryland’s urban hubs. However, Maryland semi-truck drivers always have a legal duty to ensure that they are safely operating their rig, regardless of the type of road they are on.
Man Run Over by Semi-Truck in Dark Parking Lot
Earlier this month, one man in Georgia was killed when he was run over by a semi-truck while walking across a dark parking lot. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the truck driver was heading into company headquarters for the night when he heard a “bump” that he initially thought was a drop in the pavement.
As it turns out, the truck driver had run over a 39-year-old employee who was working at the time. Video surveillance footage showed that the truck driver reversed over the man’s body before getting out to see what he had hit.
Authorities told reporters that the driver immediately called 911, and alerted his employer. He was reported to have been shaken up after the accident, but police do not believe that drugs or alcohol were involved.
Evidently, the accident victim was not wearing any reflective clothing, and investigators found ear protection as well as a pair of headphones near the man’s body. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun an investigation into the fatal accident.
Contributory Negligence in Maryland Truck Accidents
Maryland law is unique in that it imposes a very high burden on plaintiffs who seek to recover for injuries they sustained in a personal injury accident. Under the state’s contributory negligence law, accident victims who are found to have been at all at fault for the accident resulting in their injuries are barred from recovery. Thus, the assistance of a dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyer is crucial to ensure that a small portion of fault is not shifted onto a plaintiff, essentially defeating their entire claim for recovery.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a Maryland truck accident, the dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent individuals who have suffered serious injuries in all types of Maryland truck accidents, including pedestrian accidents and on-the-job accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.