Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

The danger of any vehicle crash is compounded when a truck or other large vehicle is involved in the accident. Large commercial vehicles like trucks are on the road to transport heavy items over long distances. That means that trucks can become difficult to maneuver in emergency situations, preventing truck drivers from turning or stopping suddenly due to the weight of their vehicle and cargo. Even without heavy cargo or large trailers, trucks are heavy, making accidents involving them inherently dangerous. Additionally, truck drivers are under extreme pressure to spend long hours on the road, as they need to meet delivery deadlines. This can lead to exhaustion and impaired judgment on the roads. Tired drivers are more likely to make mistakes when driving, increasing the likelihood of accidents. A recent news article discussed a serious truck accident.

According to the news article, one day in late September, a semitrailer was clipped by a car in the southbound lanes of Route 28. The semitrailer then flipped over and exploded into flames, trapping the truck driver inside the cab of the truck. A man driving nearby spotted the accident. He described the crash, saying “While it was rolling, it was already on fire. Then it rolled to a stop, and I immediately pulled over with my kids, told them to stay in the car.” The man then ran to the crash, pulling the truck driver out of the fiery wreckage inch by inch. Eventually, other bystanders assisted him, and they were able to remove the truck driver from the cab. Emergency crews took the driver to a hospital where he remains gravely injured.

What Is the Good Samaritan Law in D.C.

Colloquially known as a good Samaritan law, § 7–401 of the D.C. code, limitation on liability for medical care or assistance in emergency situations, was passed to insulate good faith actors from liability in civil damages resulting from their attempts to assist those in need. The law states “Any person who in good faith renders emergency medical care or assistance to an injured person at the scene of an accident or other emergency in the District of Columbia outside of a hospital, without the expectation of receiving or intending to seek compensation from such injured person for such service, shall not be liable in civil damages for any act or omission, not constituting gross negligence, in the course of rendering such care or assistance.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate over 250 million tons of trash annually. Garbage trucks are an integral part of society; however, like many other large vehicles, these trucks can pose a serious hazard to Maryland drivers. The fundamental nature of trash collection and garbage trucks makes it difficult to predict when and where a driver will stop. Although sanitation workers provide an essential service, their negligence can result in serious injuries to other drivers, passengers, cyclists, or pedestrians. Those who suffered injuries in an accident with a Maryland garbage truck should contact an experienced attorney.

Moreover, the Solid Waste Association of North America (“SWANA”) released a statement expressing concern about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data that indicates a 15 percent increase in traffic fatalities in 2021. The data is consistent with SWANA’s findings showing a high level of third-party fatal accidents involving waste collection vehicles.

Although Maryland is one of the number of states to enact Slow Down to Get Around laws requiring drivers to move over or slow down when passing waste and recycling vehicles, these accidents continue to pose a serious risk to motorists. For instance, Maryland reports described an accident involving an 83-year-old woman who died after being run over by a garbage truck. According to reports, the woman was crossing the road when a trash truck struck her while backing up.

Washington, D.C.’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides some degree of protection to many injured workers. However, the Act does not protect all workers, does not provide benefits to all family members, and limits the beneficiaries who are able to recover. Under section 32-1504 of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), an employer’s liability under the Act is the exclusive liability of the employer. Thus, a workers’ compensation case may be an injured worker’s only way to recover damages from their employer. The idea is that an employee gives up the right to pursue a tort claim against an employer in exchange for an easier means of recovery through the workers’ compensation system. This means that, normally, claims must be brought first before the Office of Workers’ Compensation and will generally be resolved through the agency.

However, Washington, D.C. law allows an employee to pursue a claim against a third party if a third party, such as a contractor, causes the plaintiff’s injury. In addition, injuries that are intentionally inflicted upon an employee and intended by the employer fall outside of the Act.

A recent case before one state’s supreme court demonstrates the limitations of the intentional-injury exception to that state’s workers’ compensation act. In that case, the plaintiff’s husband worked at a trucking and warehousing company. One day, after working long hours, his rig ran off the highway and rolled over, killing the plaintiff’s husband. The plaintiff filed a claim arguing that her husband was killed because he was overworked by the employer.

In Maryland and across the United States, there is a system in place of appellate courts that are able to review the decisions of the lower courts. In most states, Maryland included, there are three levels of courts, starting with the trial court, then the intermediate appellate court, and finally the state supreme court. Above all of these is the United States Supreme Court, which intervenes only in select cases. Most cases are resolved within the state judicial system.

Judges are human and can make mistakes. Thus, the system is set up to allow for appellate and supreme courts to review the decisions of lower courts in order to make sure that the lower court applied the law correctly. If a higher court decides that a lower court was wrong in its application of the law, the higher court can reverse, or overturn, the lower court. That is exactly what happened in a recent case brought by a woman who rear-ended a garbage truck and sued the driver as well as the truck’s owner for damages.

Torres v. Pabon:  The Facts

Torres was driving her Nissan early in the morning along a New Jersey highway before the sun had come up. She approached what she described as a “dark silhouette,” but she did not realize that what she saw was a truck until it was too late. She applied her brakes but was unable to stop in time and struck the back of the truck.

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Last year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in an accident when a Wal-Mart truck rear-ended the limo Morgan and friends were riding in, seriously injuring Morgan and fatally wounding one of his friends, fellow comedian James McNair. According to one news source covering the issue, the National Transportation Safety Bureau will meet next week in Washington D.C. to conduct a hearing investigating the cause of the fatal accident.

Allegations of Drowsy Driving

While the NTSB is still conducting its investigation into what occurred in the moments leading up to the fatal accident, a preliminary report issued just weeks after the accident showed that the driver was traveling 65 miles per hour in an area with a designated speed limit of 45 or 55 miles per hour due to ongoing construction. Additionally, there have been claims that the driver was awake and on the road for almost all of the preceding 24 hours, which is in violation of state and federal laws. In New Jersey, where the accident occurred, causing an accident after having not slept for 24 hours can result in an “assault by auto” charge.

Morgan was seriously injured with a broken leg, serious head trauma, and several broken ribs. James McNair was pronounced dead shortly after emergency responders arrived on the scene. Several others in the limo at the time of the accident also suffered varying injuries.

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Earlier this month in northwest Washington, D.C., a 79-year-old woman was killed while she was struck by a delivery truck. According to one local news source, the accident occurred at the intersection of 37th Street NW and Calvert Street NW.

Evidently, the grocery delivery truck was at the intersection facing southbound on 37th Street, waiting to make a right turn. As the truck made its turn, it struck the woman as she was crossing Calvert Street. The driver of the truck remained on the scene until police arrived. Sadly, the elderly woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by emergency workers.

Peapod, the company that owned the grocery delivery truck, released the following statement:  “On behalf of all of us at Peapod, we offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the person involved in the tragic accident in Glover Park this evening. We will cooperate with the investigation into this matter.”

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Earlier last year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a serious accident when the vehicle he was riding in with his entourage was struck by a semi-truck on a New Jersey highway. One of Morgan’s good friends, comedian James McNair, was killed in the accident. Tracy Morgan sustained serious injuries, from which he is still recovering. Back in June of last year, Morgan and his entourage were returning from a trip to Atlantic City. They were on a section of the New Jersey Turnpike that has a speed limit of 55 under normal conditions, but the limit was lowered because of road construction. Evidence obtained thus far shows that the driver of the truck was traveling at 65 miles per hour in the 60 seconds immediately proceeding the accident.

In a recent report by Huffington Post, the family of Mr. McNair has accepted a settlement offer from Wal-Mart, the owner of the truck that caused the accident. As it turns out, the driver of the truck had been on the road for over 24 hours without rest. The driver of the truck faces criminal charges as well.

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After a rash of several tragic accidents involving trailers popping off their hitches, Maryland lawmakers decided to pass a new law that regulates trailers more strictly, hoping to decrease these tragic incidents.

According to a report by NBC Washington, more people use trailers in the summer months, whether it be to tow boats, motorcycles, or yard waste. These trailers—some of which are “home made”—have the potential to be extremely dangerous to other motorists on the highway, especially on roads with higher speed limits and bridges.

That is exactly what happened to one man and his son, both of whom died on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The person in front of them was driving a home made trailer that had a 2” ball hitch receiver. However, the truck they were in had only a 1-7/8” ball hitch, so when the truck went over a bump, the locking mechanism wasn’t adequate to hold the trailer on the hitch, sending it flying. Both the man and his son, as well as another driver, lost their lives in that tragic accident.

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In a city that is occupied by drivers from several surrounding states, the question often arises, “who causes most of the accidents in Washington DC?” An article by the Washington Post takes a look at a recent study released that analyzes some of the traffic and accident data in the nation’s capitol.

Although Washington DC shares a border with Maryland and Virginia, and is a popular tourist destination, the number one group involved in accidents in DC is, in fact, DC residents. In second place are Marylanders, causing about one-third of the accidents in the nation’s capitol.

Tourists and drivers from Virginia are actually responsible for very few accidents, given the high prevalence of both populations.

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We previously discussed a Nebraska lawsuit that invoked a statute allowing wrongful death claims on behalf of unborn children. The case involved a truck accident that took the lives of a family and their unborn child. The lawsuit, Baumann v. Slezak, et al, also invoked Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations governing the length of time truck drivers may operate a vehicle or be “on-duty.” The driver who allegedly collided with the family’s car had, according to the complaint, been driving longer than the maximum time period allowed by the regulations.

The accident occurred in the early morning of September 9, 2012. The family, which was traveling cross-country in two cars, was stopped at the rear of a traffic jam on westbound Interstate 80 in western Nebraska. A semi-truck driven by the defendant Josef Slezak approached the line of traffic at about seventy-five miles per hour. The driver allegedly failed to slow or stop the vehicle, hitting the family’s rear car at full speed. This propelled the car into the family’s other car and into another vehicle, killing the occupants of both cars.

The lawsuit names Slezak and his employer as defendants, asserting causes of action for negligence per se, violations of FMCSA regulations, and vicarious liability. The complaint accuses Slezak of violating two FMCSA regulations: a prohibition on operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired by fatigue or some other cause, and hours-of-service (HOS) rules. Slezak had allegedly been driving for almost nineteen hours. He arrived at a terminal in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to the complaint, at 10:49 a.m. on September 8, 2012, and departed at 1:49 p.m. The accident occurred at about 5:19 a.m. on September 9, approximately 920 miles from Milwaukee.

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