Pennsylvania Truck Accident Lawyer
Every year, approximately 4,000 motorists are killed throughout the United States in commercial trucking accidents. These deadly accidents are often caused by negligence, such as driving while intoxicated, distracted driving, fatigue, or even defective trucks.
It’s not for nothing that people use the phrase “getting hit by a truck” to describe a traumatic or catastrophic event in their lives. Truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries that have long-term, life-altering effects.
The medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages caused by a truck accident often quickly create an overwhelming financial burden for innocent victims who were injured through no fault of their own.
If you were injured in a truck wreck, our legal team of personal injury lawyers will work tirelessly on your truck accident case to get you the compensation you deserve so that you may move forward with your life.
What to Know If You Were in a Truck Accident
Pennsylvania truck accident victims should be aware of a few basic facts:
- It may be the first time you have been involved in a traffic accident, but you can rest assured that the trucking company that owns the truck has probably been involved in many accidents in the past.
- The trucking company has a full-fledged, well-established legal defense team, whose job is to minimize the liability of the trucking company in the event of an accident–such as the one you were injured in.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Trying to deal with a trucking company without the help of an experienced truck accident attorney is never the best decision. For this reason, it is very important that you do the following if you were involved in an accident with a large truck:
- Avoid speaking to a representative of the trucking company until you have your lawyer present. The experienced defense attorneys who work for the trucking company may try to use your statements against you to weaken your claim and avoid liability.
- Avoid speaking to your insurance company without legal representation. There is a possibility that you may say something that can be held against you and jeopardize your truck accident claim.
- Avoid giving recorded statements to your insurer. Again, such statements may be used against you in your claim or lawsuit.
Do not rush to accept a settlement from the trucking company, no matter how tempting it seems. Remember that a trucking accident attorney may be able to identify a number of parties – not just the truck driver and the truck company – that may be liable for your accident.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck drivers often have an incentive to make it to their destinations as quickly as possible. In addition, many trucking companies set unrealistic schedules for their drivers.
These observations mean that many truck drivers are tired or even engage in reckless behavior, such as speeding or taking drugs, as they travel hundreds of miles across the country.
Frequently cited causes of truck accidents include:
- Improper training on safety matters and driving skills
- Negligent hiring or retention of truck drivers
- Disregarding weather conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Improperly loaded cargo
- Failure to stop in a timely manner
- Distracted driving
- Poor maintenance of trucks
Your attorney will help establish the cause of your accident and pursue legal action on your behalf.
Defendants in a Truck Crash Case
A truck accident often involves multiple parties.
First, the truck driver most often faces liability in a truck accident case. Was the truck driver speeding? Was the truck driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol? The truck driver’s negligence will be used to hold him or her accountable for the accident.
A truck driver faces liability while driving a big truck just like any other driver on the road.
The trucking company may also face liability in a Pennsylvania personal injury case. Trucking companies are responsible for training their drivers and for ensuring that their drivers maintain excellent driving records.
If a truck driver has been involved in several accidents, but the trucking company continues to use the driver on numerous routes, the trucking company may be held responsible if the truck driver causes another accident.
Additionally, trucking companies are responsible for keeping their fleet of trucks in good condition. If a trucking company fails to complete routine maintenance on its trucks, or if it ignores warnings from its drivers about mechanical issues, it may be held accountable in an accident claim if a mechanical error caused the crash.
Companies that load cargo onto trucks have also been held accountable in accident claims. In some cases, a third-party company loads cargo onto a truck before the driver begins transporting it.
If the cargo is improperly loaded, it could shift and cause the truck to become unstable. If this subsequently causes an accident, the loading company may be held liable in a truck crash claim.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, other parties may also be liable in a truck accident claim. Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys work hard to identify all possible defendants in a claim and ensure that they are held accountable for the damages they have caused.
Truck Accident Injuries
Truck collisions injured 130,000 victims last year. These accidents are rarely fender benders and usually result in serious injuries. Usually, those who are traveling in passenger vehicles are the ones that sustain these injuries.
Examples of common injuries in truck accident claims include broken bones, whiplash, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries.
Commercial Truck Accident Statistics
- Commercial truck accidents cost approximately $59,150 on average.
- Driver error by the trucker, another driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist causes or exacerbates nearly 90% of accidents involving large commercial trucks.
- 30% of all commercial truck collisions are attributed to driver fatigue.
Fire Truck Accident Statistics
- Every year, there are about 2,500 fire truck accidents in the United States.
- There are an average of 21 fatalities per year from accidents involving fire trucks.
- Out of those 21 fatalities, approximately 6 of the victims were in the fire truck at the time of the accident.
Semi Truck Accident Statistics
- There are approximately 15.5 million trucks in the United States. These trucks are all regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA.
- Of these trucks, approximately 13% are big rigs, semis, tractor trailers, and 18-wheelers.
- Fatal tractor-trailer accidents cost Americans over $20 billion every year. Approximately $13.1 billion of these damages are calculated as the loss of quality of life.
- There are 60.5 injuries and 2.3 deaths per every 100 million miles driven by big rigs on roads in the United States.
The Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania Truck Accident Claims
Personal injury claims must be filed before the expiration of a deadline called a statute of limitations. Each type of legal claim has a different statute of limitations, and these deadlines vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
In Pennsylvania, personal injury lawsuits, including truck accident lawsuits, generally must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. If a claimant misses this deadline, the claimant will probably be responsible for all losses caused by the accident, such as medical bills and lost wages.
However, exceptions may apply. For example, if an accident victim was a minor at the time of the accident, the “clock” does not start ticking until the victim turns 18 years old.
Additionally, if the at-fault party cannot be located within the state of Pennsylvania for at least four months between the time of the accident and the filing of a lawsuit, the two-year statute of limitations period may be extended. This exception generally applies if the at-fault party tries to conceal his or her identity or leaves the state.
By hiring a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a truck accident, you will ensure that your claim is filed by all applicable deadlines so that you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Truck Accident FAQs
When Is a Truck Considered a Commercial Motor Vehicle?
Under federal law, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is defined as any vehicle that (1) has a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more; (2) is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers for compensation; (3) is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, without compensation; or (4) transports a specified quantity hazardous materials. In Pennsylvania, a vehicle that is engaged exclusively in intrastate commerce (i.e., it doesn’t cross state lines) is deemed a CMV if it weighs 17,001 pounds or more. This classification is important, as operators of commercial motor vehicles are required to have a special license (a commercial driver’s license, or CDL) and must follow specific state and federal laws and regulations.
How Are Truck Accident Cases Different from Car Crash Claims?
There are many unique factors involved in commercial truck accidents that generally are not present in other types of motor vehicle collision cases. First, the potential for devastating or even fatal injuries is higher with truck accidents due to the size difference between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks. Second, operators of commercial motor vehicles must meet higher safety standards than drivers of passenger vehicles, including a limit on the number of hours that they can drive each day. Third, trucking companies are required to perform background checks on truck drivers and to periodically evaluate their performance. Fourth, there is a complex web of federal and state laws that govern truck drivers and may come into play in a truck accident case. Fifth, trucking companies and their insurers will often aggressively defend against truck accident claims. Given the differences between truck crashes and other types of accident cases, it is important to work with a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the facts of your case and advocate for your right to compensation.
Who Can Be Sued in a Pennsylvania Truck Accident Case?
After a big rig or tractor trailer accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the truck driver, trucking company, and/or the owner of the truck. Depending on the cause of the crash, you may also be able to file a claim against the facility that loaded the truck, the manufacturer of the truck or its parts, a third party maintenance company, or even the company that is responsible for the contents of the trailer. For example, if the brakes on a commercial truck were defective, causing a crash, then your lawyer may file a suit against the manufacturer of those brakes. A thorough investigation will determine who may be sued. These claims are generally paid by insurance companies.
What Should I Do If the Trucking Company or Its Insurer Contacts Me?
You are not required to talk to the trucking company or its insurer. In fact, doing so may hurt your case. If you get a call or are approached by an insurance adjuster or representative of the trucking company, you should hang up or direct them to your lawyer. Anything that you say and do could be used against you and may limit the amount of compensation that you could receive in a trucking accident claim. Your attorney’s job is to handle the insurance company for you — and to protect your best interests. Similarly, you should never sign anything that the insurance company sends to you without asking your lawyer to review it first. If you do sign paperwork, you may waive important rights or even give up your right to file a lawsuit.
Get Help if You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a fatal truck collision, contact our experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys today to speak with a highly qualified lawyer who knows how to tackle personal injury and wrongful death cases.
To speak with the legal team at Solnick & Associates, simply call 215-481-9979 or fill out a contact form to schedule a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney to learn about your legal rights.
At the law firm of Solnick & Associates, we assure you that having the right attorney is crucial if you want to recover the highest amount of compensation for your vehicle accident case. Simply call (877) 415-6495 or fill out a contact form to schedule a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain in scheduling a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights.