Who is Liable for Truck Driver Negligence in Maryland?
The number of truck crashes in Maryland is a small percentage of the total traffic collisions across the state, but they cause devastating damage because of their size and weight. According to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 4,180 truck accidents in Maryland in 2022. Almost 2,100 people were injured in these crashes, while 59 people lost their lives. If you were affected by a collision involving a semi, 18-wheeler, or other large commercial vehicle, you do have legal remedies against a negligent truck driver.
However, you may also have grounds to pursue other potential parties. They may not have been at the wheel, but there are entities that could be liable for negligent acts by truck operators. You have the right to seek damages from all potential parties, so it is necessary to know who they are. An Owings Mills truck driver negligence lawyer will help you navigate the legal process, but some information on specific types of liability is useful.
How Vicarious Liability Works: Obviously, it is the truck’s operator who was speeding, taking curves too fast, running red lights, or driving while distracted. Still, you can hold the trucking company accountable under the theory of vicarious liability or respondeat superior. These are types of liability that are imputed to someone other than the wrongdoer, because of the legal relationship. An employer can be liable for the negligent acts of an employee if the worker was performing job-related duties at the time. Vicarious liability could apply whenever there is an agent-principal relationship.
Employer Negligence: Vicarious liability is an operation of law, so the employer may not have done anything wrong to still be accountable for the acts of an employee. However, the company itself could also engage in negligence in operating its business, thereby leading to an accident. Examples include:
- Not hiring properly licensed drivers;
- Failing to inspect, maintain, and make repairs to the fleet of trucks;
- Interfering with federal regulations on Hours of Service (HOS), which prevent drivers from becoming fatigued; and,
- Violating regulations on weight, cargo, and hazardous substances.
Pursuing Potential Parties: You can see how a trucking company or other employer can be accountable for a truck crash, but the actual entity you pursue will be an insurance company. You start by filing a claim and attempting to work out a settlement, which can be challenging. Truck insurance policies can range in the millions, and the amount could be a significant loss to the insurer.
The company may refuse to pay a fair amount that covers your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You will need to file a lawsuit in court to get the compensation you deserve.
Discuss Remedies with Our Maryland Truck Driver Negligence Attorneys
It is reassuring to know that you might have remedies against multiple parties, especially in truck crash cases with catastrophic injuries. For more information on how our team can help, please contact Furman | Honick Law at 410-844-6000 or via our website. We can set up a free consultation at our offices in Owings Mills or Baltimore.