Truck Accidents

Some truck accident cases are relatively uncomplicated and can unfold just like a basic car accident case. Others can be extremely complicated and involved for the plaintiff’s attorney who knows enough to spot the many issues that can arise from a truck accident. For example, a truck accident may lead to claims of negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, and negligent retention. If a client’s injuries are severe enough, and there are issues about who was at fault, it may be worth the considerable expense of hiring an expert to download and review a truck’s “black box” data. There may be more defendants than are readily apparent, such as the shipper of the cargo that a truck was hauling or a transportation broker that arranged the transportation. Bringing them into a case could lead to more layers of insurance policies and a larger (and fairer) potential recovery for a plaintiff who is catastrophically injured in a truck accident.

If the plaintiff’s attorney is unsophisticated, evidence that may be available within days of a collision could be destroyed by the truck driver or trucking company. For example, truck drivers are required by federal regulations to keep logs of their driving time. If plaintiff’s counsel does not send a spoliation letter [1]to the trucking company as soon as he gets the case, this evidence may be destroyed. Alternatively, if it is improperly destroyed, the wrong lawyer may not know how to take advantage of this fact. Eric keeps a draft spoliation letter available for immediate use any time he gets a new trucking case.

Eric has handled a number of truck accident cases. In one, Eric was brought in by another plaintiff’s attorney. The case involved a drum that fell from a truck and crashed into his client’s windshield. Eric sued the truck driver, the truck company, and its maintenance company. After numerous depositions, that case settled without a trial. In another case, Eric was hired as co-counsel by a different plaintiff’s attorney who wanted Eric to assist him in handling a lawsuit against the trucking company. Eric took the deposition of the truck driver and defended the deposition of the plaintiff (after preparing her for her deposition). The case settled soon after these depositions. It is important to be able to value a particular trucking case (all cases are different). This is both an art and a science. Eric uses many tools to try to come up with a fair range [2] of the value of a particular trucking case. These tools include a careful investigation into a client’s medical diagnoses from the accident; a detailed interview with the client about harms and losses that the client has suffered because of the accident; and the effect the truck accident has had on his or her life; a review of the evidence in the case; a review of published truck accident verdicts and communications with other truck accident lawyers about the value of particular cases.

Eric has deposed many corporate designees of trucking companies. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Maryland Rules, and the Superior Court – Civil Rules all provide a procedure for a lawyer to send to the opposing attorney a specific type of deposition notice to an “entity defendant” (a corporation is a type of entity defendant) that sets forth topic areas about which the lawyer wants answers. The corporation is then required to supply witnesses for a deposition who are knowledgeable about the specific topic listed on the notice (the corporation may supply one or more witnesses for such a deposition). Eric has considerable experience in drafting these deposition notices, called “corporate designee deposition notices,” and in taking these depositions. When Eric has to file a lawsuit against an entity defendant, as opposed to only an individual person, these types of depositions often yield useful information.

Eric has been hired to defend a trucking company when its drivers have been involved in accidents in Maryland and the District of Columbia. The experience of deconstructing a plaintiff’s collision case and exploring its weaknesses has made Eric better at handling the cases of his clients who are plaintiffs.

If you have a truck accident case, time is of the essence. You should hire an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a collision. Eric would like to be that attorney. Call him for a free consultation at 240-467-5741.


[1] A letter directing the recipient to maintain the evidence specified in the letter. “Spoliation” involves the spoiling or destruction of potential evidence which, as a result, is unavailable for use in a later lawsuit. (For example, a truck driver’s log book showing he had driven well beyond the maximum amount of time in a given time period under the federal regulations.) In Maryland, if spoliation is proven, it can result in an “adverse inference jury instruction” (In other words, an instruction from the judge to the jury that the jurors can presume that the spoiled evidence would be harmful to the people or company that spoiled it. In a close case, this could be the difference between winning and losing.) In the District, proven spoliation can not only lead to an adverse inference instruction, it can be the basis for a separate lawsuit against the person or entity that spoiled the evidence.

[2] Ask Eric why he prefers a range to a particular number.