Can I File a Personal Injury Claim if I Was Hit by a Delivery Truck?May 18, 2021
During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the number of delivery trucks on the road has increased dramatically thanks to a spike in online shopping for groceries, toilet paper, and other essential items. In fact, there was a 55 percent increase in online purchasing in July 2020 alone. This increase in online shopping means that there have been and continue to be significantly more commercial trucks on the road delivering these items to customers across the United States. With more trucks on the road, there is an increased risk of truck accidents, particularly when the truck drivers are overworked, under pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines, or they have not been properly trained. If a motorist sustains a personal injury in a truck accident, he or she is urged to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of a serious truck accident. In some cases, the truck driver is at fault, whereas other times it is the driver of the passenger vehicle who is to blame. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of truck accidents:
Accidents caused by truck drivers:
- Drowsy driving: This continues to be a serious problem in the trucking industry, particularly now that there are so many more trucks delivering a range of products to customers all over the United States. Truck drivers are required to follow the hours of service (HOS) regulations, which limit the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can be on duty. However, not all truck drivers comply with these regulations.
- Distracted driving: Truck drivers are not the only motorists who make phone calls or check text messages while driving. However, a distracted driving accident involving a massive commercial truck often causes much more serious accidents compared with those involving two passenger vehicles. One moment of distraction can have devastating consequences. Truck drivers are strongly urged to keep their attention focused on the road at all times, check their mirrors to make sure other vehicles are not in their blind spots, and put their phones away.
- Drunk driving: When a truck driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, his or her coordination and ability to react to unexpected situations is impaired. In addition, the truck driver is more likely to become distracted or drowsy while driving.
- Speeding: Truck drivers often exceed the speed limit in an effort to meet their tight delivery deadlines. Unfortunately, this can lead to catastrophic accidents. The faster the truck is traveling, the greater the force of the impact when the vehicles collide. Truck drivers must obey the speed limit as well as all other rules of the road at all times. Speeding is just one example of reckless driving behavior that is very dangerous. Other examples of reckless driving include weaving in and out of lanes, tailgating, and hitting the brakes suddenly for no reason.
- Tailgating: When a large truck is following too closely behind a passenger vehicle, this can increase the risk of a serious rear-end accident. Large trucks require significantly more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop to avoid hitting the car it is following.
- Lack of training: When truck drivers are not trained on the proper driving techniques, safety issues, and defensive driving, they are more likely to cause a serious accident. The truck company is responsible for ensuring that all drivers are properly trained before they get behind the wheel of a commercial truck.
- Poor truck maintenance: Before each trip, truck drivers must conduct a thorough inspection of the truck to ensure that the truck is in good working order. For example, the tire pressure must be checked to prevent dangerous tire blowouts. Other maintenance issues that should be checked include the engine oil, fluid levels, brakes, lights, and the paint on the exterior of the truck.
Truck Accidents Caused by Other Motorists:
A significant percentage of truck accidents are actually caused by occupants of passenger vehicles. The following are examples of common causes of truck accidents caused by other motorists:
- Driving in the truck’s blind spots, also known as the No-Zones, which are located directly behind and next to the truck where the truck driver has limited visibility.
- Changing lanes abruptly in front of a large truck. Commercial trucks require significantly more road space to slow down or come to a complete stop. If another motorist cuts off a truck by moving into its lane unexpectedly, it can cause a serious accident.
- Making a left turn in front of an oncoming truck, but the motorist fails to accurately judge how fast the truck is traveling.
- Merging into traffic without properly accelerating in front of an approaching truck.
- Maneuvering to the right of a large truck as it is making a right turn.
- Unsafe passing.
- Driving between two large trucks.
What Other Factors Do I Need to Know About Truck Accidents?
In addition to the general safety precautions that motorists should take when sharing the road with a large truck, motorists are urged to use extra caution because of the increased number of delivery trucks on the road as a result of the pandemic. To avoid being involved in a delivery truck accident, motorists are urged to keep the following facts in mind:
- There has been an increase in delivery truck accidents. Amazon delivery trucks have been particularly busy during the pandemic.
- The majority of delivery truck accidents occur during the day.
- Liability for delivery truck accidents is not always clear because delivery truck drivers are often independent contractors.
How Do I Prove that a Truck Driver Was Negligent?
In order to collect financial compensation for a truck accident, the injured victim must be able to prove that the truck driver was negligent by demonstrating the following factors:
- The injured victim was owed a duty of care by the truck driver.
- The truck driver breached the duty of care.
- The breach of care caused the injuries.
- The injuries resulted in financial damages.
It is also important for motorists to understand that Maryland is a pure contributory negligence state, which means that if the injured victim is found to be even slightly responsible for causing the accident, he or she will not be entitled to any compensation. In truck accidents, it is also possible that the trucking company may also be liable for the accident. For example, if the driver was not properly trained or if the truck company failed to ensure that the vehicle was maintained, the truck company may bear some of the responsibility. In addition, companies such as FedEx, who employ delivery truck drivers, are responsible for performing the necessary background checks to ensure that their drivers do not have criminal records or a history of impaired or unsafe driving.
What Damages May I Receive if I am Injured in a Truck Accident?
The injuries and property damage caused by truck accidents can be massive. If the occupant of the passenger vehicle involved in the accident was fortunate enough to survive the crash, it is likely that he or she will have suffered very serious injuries and extensive property damage. Although every truck accident is different, as are the resulting injuries, truck accident victims are generally entitled to the following damages:
- Medical bills: This includes the initial evaluation, treatment, therapy, and all ongoing medical care associated with the injury. If the injury is severe, damages will likely also cover the cost of any modifications to the home that may be necessary, medical equipment such as wheelchairs and ramps, or the costs associated with a long-term care facility.
- Lost wages: If the injury prevents the injured victim from returning to work for an extended period, he or she may be entitled to lost wages, as well as future lost wages, decreased earning potential, and disability. The total costs are determined by obtaining employment records and, in some cases, testimony from vocational experts.
- Pain and suffering: Damages for pain and suffering address the intangible costs associated with the accident, including mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, shock, and loss of consortium.
- Property damage: Owing to the massive size and weight of a commercial truck or delivery truck, the damage to the passenger vehicle involved in the accident is often extensive. A successful claim will secure financial compensation for the damage to the vehicle, as well as any of the contents of the vehicle that were destroyed in the accident. Repair estimates and total loss reports can help determine the settlement amount.
- Punitive damages: These are awarded if the truck driver’s behavior was considered particularly egregious. For example, if the truck driver got behind the wheel of a truck after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, which resulted in a devastating truck accident, the victim may be awarded punitive damages.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Devastating Truck Accidents
If you or someone you know suffered a serious or life-threatening injury in a truck accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident, determine whether the truck driver or trucking company was negligent in any way, and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.