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If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you probably have a lot of questions. The law governing tractor-trailer accidents is complex, so it pays to have good advice as soon as possible after the accident.
Semi-truck accidents can take a number of forms:
The time limit for bringing a commercial truck accident lawsuit is three years for personal injury and three years for property damage (Maryland Courts & Judicial Procedure Code Annotated § 5-101). If you fail to file your claim within those time limits, your claim will be dismissed by the court. This limit is referred to as a “statute of limitations.”
The statute of limitations for lawsuits being brought against the government is different than in other types of cases. A formal claim must be filed with the government within one year of the accident and a lawsuit against the government must be filed within three years.
Being in an accident is always a traumatic experience. When you are involved in an accident with a commercial truck there is a whole new group of questions to consider. In most situations, the truck company is responsible for the harms and losses its truck driver causes under the theory of Respondeat Superior. In Maryland, commercial trucks must carry a mandatory minimum of $1 Million for bodily injury/liability coverage. It is extremely important to contact an experienced truck accident attorney to assist you with your accident.
If you are in an accident with a truck, there are a few steps you must take to ensure the safety of yourself and the other parties involved.
An accident is a stressful and traumatic experience, which is why it is best to take a deep breath and try to focus on your next steps. Always call 911 so that a police officer can help with documenting the accident and gathering information for a full police report. Regardless of the severity of the accident, it is important to let the authorities fill out a proper report of the accident.
Most people these days have a cell phone with a camera. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident so that you have evidence of the damage that was done. When contacting a lawyer, photos of the accident will help with smoothing out the details of your case.
If you are injured in a truck accident, you need to seek medical attention for your injuries. Even if you feel slight discomfort it could be a deeper medical issue. When involved in an accident or any experience of this magnitude, your body will release adrenaline and endorphins to help cope with the situation. A slight discomfort you may be feeling at the time of the accident could be a major medical issue. Make sure you go to the emergency room, your primary care doctor, or a walk-in clinic.
With a commercial truck accident there are more legal issues that can arise compared to a normal car accident. Not only could the driver of the truck be liable for the accident, the company that driver works for could also be held accountable in some situations. It is important you seek the advice from an experienced lawyer to help communicate with the insurance agencies. Your most important concern is your health. You should focus on getting better and let an attorney handle the details of the case.
“Comparative fault” rules govern cases where the person bringing the lawsuit relating to the accident (the “plaintiff”) was also at fault. Unfortunately, Maryland still employs a very harsh version of comparative fault, called “contributory negligence.” Under Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, a plaintiff cannot recover for his or her injuries if the plaintiff was at fault in any way for the accident. The truck driver must be totally at fault for the accident.
As an example, if the driver of a car is injured in an accident with a commercial truck and the driver of the car is 80 percent at fault in the accident, he or she will not be allowed to recover in the lawsuit. The same holds if the truck driver is 80 percent at fault and the other driver is only 20 percent at fault.
Maryland’s contributory negligence rules are very harsh. If your life has been impacted by a semi-truck accident, you should seek experienced counsel from an attorney familiar with the ins and outs of Maryland law.
Most semi-truck accident lawsuits settle out of court, and claims are typically paid by an insurance company. But the insurance company’s involvement doesn’t negate the law that applies in court. Insurance companies and their adjusters take Maryland law, including the contributory negligence rules, into consideration when deciding how much a truck accident claim is worth. Just because a case isn’t being argued before a court doesn’t mean you should handle the case on your own. Legal counsel is just as important when dealing with an insurance company as when dealing with the courts.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, call DuBoff & Associates, Chartered in Silver Spring for a consultation with one of our aggressive, experienced truck accident attorneys. Your rights are at stake and these cases are extremely complex. Don’t fight it alone.