Truck Accidents in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
We don’t think about it this way most of the time, but a commercial truck is essentially a guided missile. And when a truck is involved in an accident, its destructiveness can be almost as great as one. That is why truck accident claims so commonly involve catastrophic, long-term injuries and death. Truck accident claims can be surprisingly complex when it comes to establishing negligence, reconstructing the accident, and estimating long-term damages.
Negligence Per Se
In DC, a legal doctrine known as “negligence per se” may be used to prove liability. This doctrine usually works in favor of plaintiffs in truck accidents, because it allows an automatic finding of negligence where the defendant was found to have violated a traffic regulation. Truck drivers in particular are subject to a multitude of safety regulations that govern them.
Negligence per se may apply out of traffic collisions when the defendant has been shown to have violated a traffic regulation that was designed to prevent the injury that plaintiff suffered. Under this rule, the plaintiff would only be required to prove that the regulation was violated and that the violation was the proximate cause of the collision. What this means is that if negligence per se applies, a trucker cannot argue that the violation did not amount to negligence (there are certain technical exceptions, however). Nevertheless, a truck driver might still defeat a personal injury or wrongful death claim against him if he can show that his violation of a regulation was not a substantial cause of the accident.
Maryland courts do not recognize the doctrine of negligence per se, and will only admit violations of regulations as evidence of negligence. This means that proving the driver of a truck violated a rule of the road will not preclude him from arguing that he was not negligent. A standard burden of proving negligence will apply.
Only a few jurisdictions in the United States still apply the doctrine of contributory negligence, and Maryland and DC are both among them. In contrast to negligence per se, the doctrine of contributory negligence usually works in favor of a defendant truck driver because it allows a defendant to escape all liability if he can show that the accident was even one percent the fault of the plaintiff. This principle applies to both personal injury and wrongful death claims.
DC does allow an exception to this strict rule if the plaintiff is a bicyclist or a pedestrian. In this case, the bicyclist or pedestrian can still recover 100 percent of his damages as long as the accident was not mostly his fault.
The following is a list of the types of damages that are typically available to successful plaintiffs under Maryland and DC personal injury law.
- Property damage
- Reimbursement for medical expenses and advance payment of anticipated future medical expenses
- Reimbursement for lost earnings expenses and advance payment of anticipated future lost earnings (even until retirement age if the plaintiff was forced to retire early because of his injuries)
- Reimbursement for incidental expenses such as child care while the victim was hospitalized
- Punitive damages in a small minority of cases in which the defendant’s behavior was particularly culpable
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a truck’s “black box”?
A truck’s “black box,” or Electronic Control Module, is a device included in most trucks that is similar to the black box on a commercial jetliner – although it is considerably less sophisticated. A black box can yield data about the accident that can be used as evidence to prove or disprove a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the driver.
What federal regulations govern commercial trucking?
Commercial truckers are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations as well as state regulations. State laws (including Maryland and D.C. laws) tend to mostly mirror federal regulations. These regulations govern every aspect of commercial trucking, even how many hours the driver must sleep during a given interval.
Now Is the Time to Take Action
Personal injury clients face a dilemma: large mega-firms treat them like case numbers and fail to take their individual priorities and circumstances into account, while small firms lack the resources to handle complex issues. At Henderson Law, we offer the best of both worlds. We are small enough to offer you the individual attention your case deserves, but when it comes to complex issues, we consistently “box above our weight.”
If you have been involved in a truck accident anywhere in Maryland (including Baltimore and Annapolis) and Washington D.C., contact us immediately by filling out our online contact form or by calling (410) 721-1979 to set up an appointment for a consultation with us.
Henderson Law is accepting new cases in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Henderson Law is willing to take new clients across the State of Maryland, including, but not limited to, new cases arising in the following cities: Annapolis, Crofton, Bowie, Upper Marlboro, Crownsville, Davidsonville, Edgewater, Millersville, Odenton, Severna Park, and Pasadena. Please call Henderson Law for an initial consultation.