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:
- Driver Error: According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver error is more likely to cause a truck accident than any other factor. This occurs when an operator is misinformed of his or her proximity to other cars, with blind spots contributing significantly against cognition. Braking too late or failing to predict another motorist’s behaviors can also contribute. Distracted driving is a huge factor within this category, whether the driver of the truck or the driver of a smaller vehicle is texting while driving, eating, or talking with passengers.
- Driver impairment: A driver is impaired in some manner, whether it is lack of sleep or using drugs or alcohol.
- Weather conditions: Snow, rain, ice, and even wind can contribute to bad road conditions and cause a truck accident.
- Lack of compliance: This could be a truck not being inspected or a driver working beyond the regulated amount of hours allowed. When trucking companies do not follow the rules and regulations and remain in compliance, it increases the chances of truck accidents tremendously.
- Improper training on safety matters and driving skills
- Negligent hiring or retention of truck drivers
- 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.
What Do I Do After a Truck Accident?
First of all, do not accuse the other driver of causing this accident, whether you are in the right or not. Rather than openly accusing him or her of blatantly causing the accident, and putting yourself in a position of disadvantage, avoid the topic. This allows you to reassess the accident on your own time later, in much more of a favorable position, rather than putting you on the spot in a time of duress. This also gives you and your attorney more options for attempting to claim a settlement with less pressure, and rids of any possibility of introducing contradicting statements against yourself in your case.
Why are Truck Accident Injuries Typically So Serious?
The average truck composed of tandem axles weighs around 17 tons. That is a grand total of 34,000 pounds! The average car, on the other hand, only weighs two tons, or 4,000 pounds. Any collision between these two vehicles is anticipated to be catastrophic. The driver of the smaller vehicle is put at much more of a risk considering the position of the car’s cabin, leaving it easily prone to the mere force of an impact from a truck. If you have ever been involved in an accident where a truck hit you, you will know without a doubt that your life was put in jeopardy at the hands of another’s mistakes.
How Much is My Truck Accident Worth?
This depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Was any time lost from work? How severe are the the injuries that were sustained in the accident? What are the costs for medical treatments? It is highly suggested to contact a Pennsylvania truck accident attorney as soon as possible to determine your settlement’s value. Another important fact to keep in mind is that no two truck accidents are the same, therefore it is not recommended to believe what you hear from people who have previously received settlements for accidents.
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.
What to Do If You Can Not Afford a Truck Accident Attorney
You were in a truck accident on a Pennsylvania highway and you suffered life-changing injuries. Your life has spun into a whirlwind of confusion and mayhem. You have lost time at work, you are falling behind on your bills as time goes by, and you really just need time to recover. On top of the physical suffering you have endured, the insurance company does not seem to want to play fair and you cannot afford a truck accident attorney.
Misery Does Not Always Want Company
This scenario has been the reality for more people than you would believe, but we do not expect you to feel better just because misery loves company. In fact, hearing that other people have suffered the same way might only make you feel worse, especially if you still do not have any idea if their situation was resolved or if things got any better for them. We are going to explain to you what you can do when you cannot afford a truck accident attorney to help you fight the powerful insurance companies, trucking companies, and anyone else who can be held liable for your injuries and does not want to pay.
Understanding the Insurance Process
People who do not understand how the insurance process works after a truck accident happens often feel lost and confused. They do not realize that most truck accident attorneys will take on their case on what is called a “contingency basis.” That means that you do not have to pay the lawyer a dime until your case has been resolved and you have been paid by the insurance company, or whomever else is responsible for your injuries.
“I Can Handle it on My Own”
Even with this knowledge, most people still believe that they can handle the insurance process on their own. This is sometimes true, but something you should know is that insurance companies tend to make lower offers to victims who are not legally represented. If you have a lawyer helping you with your insurance claim, the chances of getting fair compensation increases tremendously because the insurance company knows that lawyers are skilled at computing the value of cases and will not take a settlement offer that is just a fraction of that value.
Holding Everyone Accountable
At the same time, your lawyer can also ensure that anyone else who is liable for your injuries is held accountable. That means that if the driver caused the accident, the trucking company is held liable, and if there was a part of the truck that malfunctioned and caused the accident, your lawyer can hold the maker of the truck accountable for their part in your injuries.
In order to ensure that you get every dime to which you are entitled and that you can focus on recovering from your injuries, you should consider hiring a Pennsylvania truck accident attorney who will make sure of that. Contact the law offices of Solnick & Associates, LLC today for a free consultation. It is our goal to hold the responsible parties accountable to ensure that we keep our highways safe.