A serious truck injury lawsuit is not one that every lawyer can handle—it’s not even one that every automobile accident lawyer can handle. For lawyers to get the maximum settlement or verdict in a trucking claim, they must have a firm grasp on both federal and state trucking regulations. Even a relatively straightforward case, for example a rear-end collision, is not so straightforward when large commercial trucks are involved.
Maryland Truck Accidents
What Vehicles Require A CDL License?
The following vehicles can only be driven by operators with a valid CDL license:
- Vehicles over 26,000 lbs.
- Buses large enough for 16 or more people
- School buses
- Mobile cranes
- Uncoupled tractors (i.e., bob tails),
- Most tow trucks
What Training Is Required To Become A Truck Driver
This is important because it takes more to become a truck driver than it does to get a standard license. In order to become a truck driver, applicants must pass a physical, pass a drug test, and have a valid state-issued driver’s license. Then, they must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The CDL is a state license, but it complies with certain federal trucking requirements established in 1986. The test requires:
- General Knowledge Test: this test covers cargo vehicles, air brakes, endorsements, passenger vehicles, combination vehicles, tank vehicles, triples.
- Depending on the specific license requested, applicants may also have to pass a hazardous materials knowledge test.
- CDL Skills/Road Driving Test: this test covers pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving.
There are three classes of CDL license in Maryland:
- Class A (can drive vehicles that tow trailers or other vehicles over 10,000 lbs. GVWR; can also drive any vehicles categorized as Class B or Class C);
- Class B (can drive single vehicles with GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, or gross combination weight rating of 26,001 lbs. or more; can drive vehicles that tow trailers or other vehicles 10,000 lbs. or less; can drive any Class C vehicle); and
- Class C (can drive vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR which transport 16 or more people, transport children to and from school, or carry certain amounts of hazardous materials).
Drivers can get up to seven endorsements (permissions for specific subsets of driving) including: combination vehicles, double and triple vehicles, air brakes, passenger vehicles, school bus, hazardous materials and tank vehicles.
Was The Truck Driver Negligent?
The CDL test can be difficult. A successful truck accident lawyer must understand the ins-and-outs of these educational requirements better than a truck driver. Additionally, the federal rules for interstate trucking (between states) and Maryland intrastate rules combined with Maryland’s standard rules of the road set forth a standard of care from which all truck drivers are measured. These rules cover everything from how to secure a load in a truck, to how much sleep drivers are required to get between trips, to how often trucks must be inspected.
Violations of these rules are not always obvious—it requires intense study and analysis of voluminous trucking documents, including driver logs, black boxes, GPS tracking, hotel and fast food receipts, bills of lading and countless other pieces of evidence. When truck drivers and trucking companies violate these rules, they put the lives the driving public at risk.
Was There Any Contributory Negligence?
Maryland residents have an additional hurdle in truck collision cases. Maryland is one of five jurisdictions in the United States that has the antiquated “contributory negligence” rule . Under this rule, assuming the truck driver was negligent, an injured victim may have to defend against claims that he was also negligent. In Maryland, if the victim was even 0.01% negligent, he is precluded from recovering in his truck accident case. Truck companies pull out all the stops in defending their claims—they will argue that plaintiffs were contributorily negligent because they were speeding, changing lanes inappropriately, following too closely, stopping too quickly, or anything else they can use to cobble an argument together. However, they have the burden to prove that the argued negligence of the victim caused or contributed to the collision. Our lawyers have faced these defenses in automobile accident cases and trucking accident cases, and we work tirelessly to defuse those arguments before they get to the jury.
What Are The Damages?
It’s no surprise that injuries in trucking accident cases are oftentimes more serious than the typical car accident cases. Trucks are often larger, and truck drivers are more apt to overlook standard vehicles. Trucks are heavier and harder to stop, and cause more damage when they collide into objects like other vehicles. As a result, many trucking accident cases involve significant, permanent physical injuries or even wrongful death.
If you were injured in a Maryland truck collision, call us at 1-800-553-8082, or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We can answer your questions about truck rules and regulations in Maryland, and help you to determine whether you can recover against a negligent trucking company and truck driver.
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