Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

leg injury verdictsJury Verdict Research published data on verdicts in severe leg injury cases over the 10 years prior to October 2010. By severe, I mean severe: crush injuries and amputations. For injuries to one or both legs, and leg injuries resulting in varying degrees of leg amputations, the statistics are:

One or Both Legs $4,000,000 $2,400,000

The average verdict in these cases is approximately $4,000,000 and the median verdict is $2,400,000 for injuries to one or both legs, and leg injuries resulting in varying degrees of leg amputations.

The leg amputation categories include both traumatic and surgical amputations. The relatively insignificant difference surprised me between above the knee and below the knee amputations:

Above the knee $3,958,003 $2,588,649
Below the knee $4,930,186 $3,727,500
Bilateral Amputation $13,392,589 $5,012,500

As you can see, the median for bilateral amputations is a statistically insignificant difference from a single above the knee amputation.

This is interesting data and useful to use in negotiating your case. But asking the numbers to make sense is asking too much.

Settlements & Verdicts – Serious Leg Injuries

Below are summaries of cases resulting in verdicts or settlements where the primary injury was a serious leg injury,

Smith v. Elseroad (Baltimore City 2023) $425,000: The plaintiff was standing between two parked cars when the defendant motorist smashed his vehicle into the rear of one of the cars, pushing it forward into the plaintiff and crushing the plaintiff between the parked cars. The plaintiff suffered a bilateral leg crush injury resulting in permanent injuries, a right fibular head fracture, a permanent concave deformity on his calf, and permanent scarring on his lower body.

Hupp v. United States (D. Md. 2021) $729,000: Plaintiff suffered multiple fractures to his left ankle, requiring fusion and resulting in loss of motion and pain, as well as aggravation of preexisting condition, when the motorcycle he was operating was struck by a USPS mail truck that backed up from a parked position without warning, causing his left leg to be pinned under the motorcycle.

Johnson v. Bautista (Baltimore County 2021) $2,458,000: plaintiff suffered crush injuries to his right leg, including fractures to his right femur and tibia and nerve damage requiring surgery followed by physical therapy, and resulting in the permanent loss of feeling in his right foot and a combined right leg/lower extremity impairment rating of 46 percent. Jury awarded $208,000 in economic damages and $2.2 million for pain and suffering.

Thomas v. MTA (Baltimore City 2019) $1,200,000: plaintiff, a water taxi deckhand, suffered multiple fractures to her left leg and an open fracture of her left ankle, both of which required extensive surgeries, including placement of rods and screws and skin grafting, and resulted in extensive scarring on her leg. Case settled for $1.2 million.

Turner v. Brown (Baltimore City 2018) $390,394: plaintiff suffered a left leg hairline fracture, a left knee meniscus tear that required surgery when he was struck by a commercial vehicle driven by the defendant.

Patton v. Ruiz (P.G. County 2017) $1,584,296: plaintiff suffered right leg compound fractures, including a right knee fracture, resulting in persistent leg and knee pain and weakness and permanent radicular symptoms related to his leg and knee, when defendant allegedly made a left turn at an intersection on a steady red light and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle as it was proceeding through the intersection on a green light.

Koger v. Mabato (Baltimore City 2017) $1,203,013: Plaintiff was hit by a mobility bus in an intersection and suffered a fractured right distal femur, which required open reduction and internal fixation surgery and resulted in permanent impairment, as well as a fractured scapula, resulting in difficulty walking, standing, sitting and using stairs, continuing pain and permanent impairment of his right knee/leg.

A recent Jury Verdict Research nationwide study looked at truck accidents from 1996 to 2005 found that the truck accident victim prevailed and received damages in 60 percent of truck accident lawsuits.

What Is the Average Value of a Truck Accident Case?

The average compensation award of these verdicts was $90,000. Plaintiffs were more likely to prevail in and receive compensation in head-on truck crashes.

How Often Does the Victim Win a Truck Accident Case?

In these cases, the Plaintiffs prevailed 71% of the time and received an average jury award of $532,034. The average value of a fatal truck accident case was just over $1 million. For truck accident cases that involved a disc injury, the average award was $122,532. Three percent of the jury awards were over $5,000,000.

If you polled Maryland personal injury lawyers who handle car accident cases, most would choose Allstate as the “worst of the worst” among insurance companies to deal with on accident claims.

Personally, while I would not put Allstate at the top of my list of insurance companies I want to draw, I would not put them last, either. Don’t get me wrong. They are awful, and I hate them. Our lawyers sue them and their insureds all the time. But we are speaking in relative terms? Who are the worst three insurance companies to deal with in Maryland? Allstate is not on my list.

This post gives practical thoughts about Allstate claims in Maryland and includes a plug of why you should – in serious injury cases, anyway – hire a lawyer for your Allstate injury claim.

Tractor-trailers are typically the heaviest vehicles on the road. This makes big rig trucks very dangerous. Serious injuries and fatalities are more likely in truck-related collisions than in accidents involving standard passenger vehicles only. This is why large commercial trucks are required to carry “high-limit” liability insurance coverage.  But the limits are not high enough to give truck accident victims in many cases.

Common Causes for Big Rig Truck Accidents

Accidents with big trucks can happen for all the same reasons as any other auto accident. But the unique nature of big trucks and the commercial trucking industry make certain types of accidents more common. Common accident causes that are unique to the trucking industry include:

Last month, I wrote a bit about Jury Verdict Research, which conducts studies of jury verdicts around the country.

A recent Jury Verdict Research study of trucking accidents found that truck accident victims recover damages in 60% of personal injury trials and receive a median compensatory award of $90,000.  I find the 60% number a surprise.  With all the weapons plaintiffs’ lawyers have now to prove a case — and figure out if we have one in the first place — it is hard to fathom how we can lose 40% of these cases.

The average truck accident case involving a disc injury was $122,532. In contrast, the average median verdict in a head-on truck collision case in the study was $532,034.

Big rig trucks are dangerous.  They cause serious injuries and they kill people.  Our law firm is currently handling 5 wrongful death truck uninsured motorist truckaccident cases. It is beyond awful.

I think we have established this fact on this blog. What we have not talked about specifically is the risk to truck drivers. Driving a truck was the single most hazardous occupation in the United States last year, taking 852 lives.  Logging that many hours on the road with vehicles that are tough to control… I’m surprised the number is not higher.

Large Truck Does Not Equal Large Uninsured Motorist Policy

Compounding this tragedy is the lack of uninsured motorist benefits for truck drivers.  Commercial trucks have liability insurance requirements. Most trucks must be insured at a minimum of $750,000.  (It is a crime that this cap has not been raised in the last zillion years but that is a whole different issue.)

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truck accident driving recordA new appellate opinion offers some interesting insight into the parameters under which a plaintiff may inquire about a truck driver’s driving record and the extent to which plaintiffs’ truck accident attorneys can use cross-examination fodder like the commercial driver license manual and other safety manuals.

Fact of the Case

Briefly, a man on a bicycle was killed when he was hit by a truck.  The bicyclist was making a right turn against a red light on a white pedestrian signal.  The truck hit him, and he was dragged for several hundred feet.

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truck accident suicideIn Young v. Swiney, the U.S. District Court of Maryland was presented with an interesting, albeit depressing question: Can a suicide, two years after a truck crash, be causally related to the accident?

The Facts

There was no dispute as to liability.  The defendant trucking company sought summary judgment on plaintiffs’ wrongful death claim, alleging that there was no evidence that a reasonable jury could rely upon to establish this suicide, two years after the accident, could be causally related to the crash.   Defendant also sought summary judgment for economic losses after the suicide, claiming that his death was, “a superseding and/or intervening cause” of his death that acts as a bar to future economic losses.   As creepy as that argument is, it does logically follow that that if the crash did not cause the suicide than the economic losses should, as a matter of law, be terminated as well. Continue reading

On Monday, a man calls our office. He only has a few minutes to talk. He tells our intake specialist that his brother has been at Shock Trauma in Baltimore since the beginning of the month and that he was hit by a commercial vehicle. The man briefly describes his brother’s injuries as head, eye, shoulder, and ankle.

She didn’t get more details. But he has me, obviously, at “Almost a month and counting in Shock Trauma” and “commercial truck.” Most of our large serious injury cases are truck accident cases. We set up a meeting with the brother for the next day in my office.

An hour before the meeting, the brother calls and says that the injury victim wants to be a part of the meeting, asking our intake specialist if we can move the meeting to the hospital.

I swallow hard. I’m simultaneously happy and miserable. Sure, I can now sign up for the client directly. But I really hate hospital visits. Why? Because it makes me feel like an ambulance chaser, that’s why. Many people pride themselves on not caring what anyone else thinks. I don’t. I really care – especially what health care providers think because I really have a lot of respect for them.

I’ve probably lost a lot of cases over the years of eschewing hospital visits. But last month, our firm went on a weekend retreat to the Hyatt in Cambridge, Maryland. Great place.  The purpose of our meetings there was to become a better law firm. I’m convinced that we can never stop getting better. We are blessed to have a group of people who have been together for a long time. I think experience individually and collectively gives us a chance to continue to improve. The focus of the meeting was what I call Kaiser Sose: doing the little things other people can’t or won’t do to (1) make our clients happy, and (2) increase the values of their cases. In the spirit of that meeting, which included the theme of EVERYONE having to be accountable, I have to make hospital visits when current or potential clients ask me to come.

So I drive down to Baltimore to visit the hospital. I’m planning to meet the brother in the hospital lobby. This makes me feel better because it gives me some cover other than the guy who looks like a lawyer going up alone. While I’m fidgeting in the lobby, the brother calls the office and just asks, inexplicably, if I can just come up to the room.

Shoot. Now I’m uncomfortable. But I sneak by the front desk without getting a visitor’s badge pulling off that “I am regular here, I know where I’m going” look, simultaneously feeling James Bond clever and a complete loser. Because I’m so clutch, I add difficulty by screwing up the “600-630 this way” arrow, having to suspiciously double back again. Thankfully, no one is paying attention because, you know, they are tending to badly hurt people and I’m in Baltimore City and I’m not carrying a weapon. Continue reading

Last week, in Hendrix v. Burns, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals dealt with the question of what plaintiffs’ lawyers can admit into evidence in a car accident case when the defendant stipulates to liability.

In car accident cases, many defense lawyers loathe admitting responsibility. There is always a chance that the jury will hate the plaintiff and accept some insane version of how an accident happened.

But, the best thing that can happen for the plaintiff is for the defense lawyer to deny responsibility in a case because it diminishes the defense lawyer’s credibility on the plaintiff’s injuries. If you are plaintiffs’ counsel, you want to get the jury mad at the defendant. Jurors give more money when they are mad. This is hard in traffic collision cases because it is hard for jurors to get mad at a negligent driver who makes what they can perceive to be an accident that they could easily make themselves.defendant drunk driver

Smart attorneys for plaintiff frame the case, not as an accident, but a choice the defendant made. “The defendant in this case chose not to pay attention.” But still, we all know that we have failed to pay attention while driving and it could have, under the wrong circumstances, lead to a car accident.

In Hendrix, the call to stipulate to liability was a no-brainer for State Farm who defended the case. The defendant was drunk. He tried to flee the scene of the accident, but his damaged car wouldn’t let him. He was in the middle of some road rage dispute. A picture-perfect bad guy defendant for the jury to hate.

State Farm did what they should do, file a motion in limine to exclude the introduction of evidence that the defendant was drunk, that he had been involved in a “road rage” incident with another driver and was crazily chasing that driver when he ran the red light, that defendant attempted to flee after the accident, and also that his criminal record included DUI convictions.

Plaintiff’s lawyer did what smart ones do in a case like this. He brought a battery case for the road rage, arguing that has been put to bed since law school doctrines like transferred intent. He brought a negligent entrustment count. He also smartly argued that a part of Plaintiff’s pain and suffering was seeing the defendant drunk and trying to flee the scene of the accident. This is doing everything you could do to put your client in a position to maximize her damages.

Does this have anything to do with the level of damages in a personal injury case? It depends on your world view. If you think damages should be calculated in a hermetically sealed box, it shouldn’t be admissible. From this perspective, it shouldn’t matter whether the defendant was a crackhead on his 6th DWI or a nun with a 40 years history impeccable driving.

Yet, somehow, that she was a nun would come out on direct. Why? Because the insurance defense lawyer is trying to minimize damages by suggesting that this nun is a sweetie and she will have to pay this verdict out of her pocket.

Why do we let the nun say she is a nun? Context matters. But once you agree that the fact that she is a nun should be admitted, doesn’t the dam break open when the defendant is drunk. Isn’t that context – like the nun – that the jury should consider? Continue reading

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