Helping Victims of Truck Accidents Recover Compensation in their Personal Injury Cases
Tanker trucks, big rigs, and tractor-trailers are very heavy vehicles that regularly travel at high rates of speed. When a large truck collides with a smaller vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, it can cause serious property damage and catastrophic personal injuries. Serious injuries sustained in truck accidents can include spinal cord injuries, head injuries, bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, and even death. If you have suffered injuries in a serious truck accident, you need an experienced legal team on your side who can fight for you every step of the way. At Philly Injury Law, our Philadelphia truck accident lawyers understand the seriousness and the disruptions these accidents can cause to your life. Attorney Joel J. Kofsky will fight for your right to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries, pain, suffering, and financial losses.
Truck Accidents are Often the Result of Driver Negligence
In order for drivers to operate a tractor-trailer or other large truck, they must undergo special training and obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Because of these heightened requirements, truck drivers are held to a higher standard of care than ordinary motor vehicle drivers. In the context of a truck accidents, commercial drivers are held to the standard of care of a “reasonably prudent truck driver” operating an 18-wheeler under the same or similar circumstances. Even experienced commercial drivers sometimes deviate from this standard of reasonable care. When they do so, serious wrecks and personal injuries can result. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents is due to negligence leading to serious accidents include the following:
- Drunk or drugged driving – It goes without saying those who operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs can cause serious accidents on Philadelphia roadways – usually because of impaired vision, focus, or reaction time.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving can take many forms. Some common examples include texting or making phone calls while behind the wheel, or programming GPS navigation devices while driving.
- Fatigue – Trucking companies often encourage their drivers to drive for hours on end, often with little or no sleep. When these drivers are fatigued, their reaction time slows, and a serious accident can result.
- Cutting curves too sharply – When commercial drivers cut a curve too sharply, they can collide with or sideswipe other vehicles on the road, especially at traffic intersections. This can also cause a truck to rollover.
- Violating traffic laws – When commercial drivers fail to follow truck speed limits or otherwise violate the rules of the road, they are more likely to cause serious truck accidents.
- Violating motor carrier regulations – Federal and state motor carrier regulations limit load sizes and establish requirements for oversized loads and securing trailer cargo. When truck drivers violate these regulations, they significantly increase their chances of causing an accident.
Joel J. Kofsky and our team of Philadelphia truck accidents attorneys can review your truck case with you and may be able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the responsible operator and/or trucking company on your behalf.
Potentially Responsible Parties
A Philadelphia crash involving a commercial, vehicle, one or more individuals or legal entities may be responsible for the truck accident. The most obvious responsible party is the truck driver. Other potentially responsible parties may include the following:
- Trucking companies – Philadelphia trucking companies have a duty to hire and retain experienced drivers with clean driving records. Moreover, trucking companies have to conduct regular drug tests on their drivers and to properly maintain their equipment, including tractors and trailers, at all times. When trucking companies fail to take these measures and an accident occurs, serious accidents often occur.
- Cargo loading teams – Cargo loading teams are responsible for properly loading trailers. In that capacity, they have to ensure that trailers are not overloaded or under-loaded, in accordance with the applicable weight restrictions. Moreover, they have to ensure that all cargo is properly loaded and secured onto the trailer. When cargo loading teams do not do their jobs properly, the tractor or trailer could overturn in the roadway, or the cargo could dislodge from the trailer into the roadway, causing a serious accident.
- Truck part manufacturers – Truck part manufacturers have to ensure that their products are safe when they are released into the stream of commerce. These parts include tires, steering mechanisms, and braking systems. When truck parts malfunction en route and an accident occurs, manufacturers and distributors can be liable.
- Truck repair facilities – Truck repair facilities have a duty to make repairs in a proper and skillful manner. If a big rig breaks down on the roadway shortly after a repair was made – and an accident occurs – the repair facility may be fully or partially to blame.
- Governmental entities – Governmental entities can include townships, municipalities, and cities – including the City of Philadelphia. The City, for example, has a duty to maintain roadways and ensure that they are kept in a reasonably safe condition at all times. When potholes and other serious roadway defects lead to truck accidents, the accident victim may be able to file a claim against the city or other responsible governmental entity. In some cases, however, the accident victim may need to satisfy a special notice requirement prior to filing suit in the court system.
Our team understands that many individuals may share the responsibility for a Philadelphia truck accident. Our legal team can ensure that all potentially responsible parties are brought into your claim or lawsuit for damages.
Call a Philadelphia Accident Attorney Today to Discuss Your Legal Options
If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, time may be of the essence. In Pennsylvania, people who are hurt in serious truck accidents only have two years from the date of their accident to file a claim or lawsuit for personal injuries and damages.
At Philly Injury Law, our legal team can litigate your case to the fullest and help you maximize the value of your damages. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia truck accident attorney, please call us today at 215-735-4800, or contact us online.
Truck Accident Causes and Claims
Although common vehicles on roads and highways, especially in big cities like Philadelphia, they cause devastating consequences if they are involved in accidents, especially with smaller vehicles on the road. Their size and their weight can mean that the accident is much more serious than it would be otherwise.
If you have been hurt in an accident with a truck, get in touch with a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
When an accident with a truck occurs, there are a number of reasons why the accident took place.
A truck is much more difficult to drive than a car, so it is important that the truck company provides their drivers with enough training to make sure that they can drive the truck with the trailer safely.
The company, however, may be trying to cut costs by not training their drivers enough or at all. An untrained driver behind the wheel of a huge and heavy truck could lead to some pretty serious accidents.
Sometimes, drivers drive longer than they should to try to make a deadline.
Truck drivers are required to take breaks to make sure that they do not get tired while driving, but some drivers ignore the required breaks and drive in spite of their fatigue.
Other drivers will rely on drugs to help them survive the long trips or will drink during their stops. Any driver operating a truck while tired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs can make huge mistakes that could hurt or even kill other people on the road. It is equally possible that the truck accident occurred because of an issue with the truck itself. Truck companies are responsible for maintaining the trucks, making sure that they are functioning well and safely.
If there have been any safety recalls issued for truck parts, the company is responsible for making sure that the part has been removed or replaced so that the truck is safe to drive. Also, whoever the loaded the truck could have done so improperly, throwing off the weight balance of the truck and making it extremely difficult to maneuver. If the truck malfunctions in any way, it could result in a serious accident.
Who is responsible?
If either the driver or the truck company is responsible for the accident, a truck accident attorney can help you create a case against them and file a claim for compensation. Injuries resulting from truck accidents can be very serious. If you are in a smaller vehicle and get hit by or run into a truck, you could end up with some extremely serious injuries because your small vehicle is no match for the size and weight of the truck, especially at high speeds.
Common Injuries from truck accidents
You could end up with broken bones, burns and lacerations, head or spinal injuries, brain injuries, paralysis, or even death in the worst cases. It is absolutely critical that you take care of your health if you have been in a truck accident. Unfortunately, medical bills can be extremely expensive. A trip to the emergency room or one days stay in a hospital can cost you hundreds of dollars. If your injury requires medical procedures like surgery, you will have to pay for those as well, in addition to the cost of any medications you need or physical therapy you will have to undergo to recover.
These costs can be a financial burden, especially if you are having to pay for vehicle repairs or to replace your car. If you are so hurt that you cant return to work, youre probably in even worse shape financially. This is why having a skilled and experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorney on your side is so important.
Your Injury Lawyer Will Fight for Compensation
If your injuries were caused by negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver or the truck company, your lawyer will build a solid case to demonstrate that this was the case and that you deserve compensation for your injuries that resulted from the accident. They will be able to access company records and individual drivers records, including the black box that many trucks are equipped with, to prove that you were wrongfully injured.
They will fight on your behalf to ensure that the responsible party gives you the full compensation that you deserve, no less. Call our offices today by phone or via the contact form. We are available 24/7.
Those monstrous big rig trucks you see on the highway all day and night are one of the most vital parts of our nation’s economy
The drivers work long hours, pushing their machines thousands of miles to make deliveries on time. The life of an 18-wheeler driver is not for everyone. It takes a special kind of person who has the skills to pilot an 80,000 lb. truck through city traffic, along rural highways, and over the nation’s interstate freeways.
The laws in Pennsylvania require truck drivers to undergo special training and licensing. Even a minor collision can be cause for a truck driver to lose their operating license. Truck drivers are trained to avoid situations where accidents are likely to happen. Nevertheless, accidents with tractor trailers happen everyday. Drivers who are injured in an accident caused by an 18-wheeler need to handle their claim carefully. Laws vary for commercial truck drivers, and cases that might be a slam-dunk to win between private citizens are much more difficult when facing off against a commercial trucking company.
Federal and State Laws that Prevent Big-Rig Accidents
Like many professions, truck drivers are required to meet specific licensing prior to being permitted to drive. Some of these laws are established at the Federal level. Because many truck drivers haul cargo from one state to another, or even across multiple states, the United States Department of Transportation has established requirements for all commercial truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides guidance to the States as to the requirements truck drivers must meet to be licensed.
• Federal Requirements
Federal requirements for special licensing began in 1992 in the United States. Today, any driver that operates commercially and drives a heavy truck is required to earn and keep a Commercial Driver's License. This license differs from a regular license in many ways. Drivers must take classes and demonstrate knowledge of skills required for driving commercial vehicles. The tests include backing, parking, turning, and merging into traffic much like a regular license, but the driver must complete the test in an 18-wheeler.
Before a driver is allowed on the road, they must also receive certifications for special handling of materials and loads. Driver’s must have certification to operate a truck with air brakes, for example, before they are allowed to drive a truck equipped with air brakes. Many types of loads require special licensing, such as hazardous materials, multiple trailers, and storage tanks.
• Pennsylvania Laws
Federal regulations provide guidance to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, but it is PennDOT that is responsible for licensing truck drivers who live in Pennsylvania. Drivers are not allowed to hold licenses in more than one state. Pennsylvania sets requirements for skills, physical requirements, and is responsible for regulating drivers in the state. Commercial truck drivers who do not meet requirements under Pennsylvania law cannot meet requirements under Federal law. Violations, suspensions, and revocation of licenses in Pennsylvania is reported to Federal authorities and prevents drivers from simply moving to another state to avoid repercussions.
• 14-Hour Window Rule
Pennsylvania is responsible for ensuring drivers are not allowed or forced to drive beyond the limit that has been determined as safe. Federal restrictions are commonly referred to as the “14-Hour Window.” DOT rules allow drivers to operate up to 11 hours within a consecutive 14-hour period.
• 60/7 or 70/8 Rule
In addition to daily limits on driving, truck drivers are also limited by the number of hours they may drive over the course of several days. Drivers working for companies that do not operate every day are restricted to 60 driving hours in 7 days. Company drivers that do operate all week must restrict drivers to no more than 70 driving hours in 8 days. Drivers can do other work, but cannot drive a commercial vehicle.
• 34-Hour Reset
Drivers may take 34 hours or more away from driving and reset the 60/7 or 70/8 rule. Drivers are allowed to utilize sleeper cabs for all or part of this time, but they must be off the road for 34 hours. Drivers can do other work while waiting out the reset.
Accidents Involving Big Rig Trucks
Car accidents are always stressful experiences. Even a minor collision can cause long-lasting injuries and be costly to recover from. Accidents involving commercial trucks amplify the danger. A fully-loaded commercial 18-wheeler tips the scales at up to 80,000 lbs. The average SUV on the road today weighs around 4,800 lbs. There simply is no such thing as a minor accident involving a big rig. The sheer mass of the commercial vehicle means that an unbelievable amount of damage is done. In fact, 18-wheelers are so heavy, sometimes the driver does not even know an accident happened because they cannot feel the impact.
Commercial Truck Accidents That Aren’t Your Fault
Truck drivers have special licensing and education for a reason: the vehicles they are responsible for driving can kill, maim, and injure people even when involved in minor accidents. Commercial drivers have strict rules in place to prevent accidents. When accidents happen that involve a big rig and it’s not your fault, you will need to know how to proceed getting the medical help and money for property damage and lost time.
Commercial Driver Negligence
The laws established by the FMCSA and PennDOT help to ensure public safety and hold truck drivers and the company that owns the truck accountable for causing accidents. Commercial drivers who have exceeded the hours limits, have been drinking or using drugs, are speeding, or are operating over the weight limit and are involved in an accident can be held liable for the damages and injuries they caused. In law, this is referred to as negligence per se. In other words, the driver knew or should have known they were violating the law prior to being involved in an accident.
Negligence against a commercial driver can be established if you can demonstrate the driver violated the rules of the road, or if the driver was in violation of special laws that restrict commercial truckers. Some claims may involve multiple violations at different levels. For example, a driver who operates for more than 11 hours in a 14 hour period is in violation. But, if the company the driver works for forced or required the driver to violate the law, the company can be held liable along with the driver.
Right-Hand Turns and Comparative Negligence
Every driver on the road has seen the warnings plastered across the rear of commercial trailers. Signs like “If You Can’t See My Mirrors, I Can’t See You” and “Caution, Wide Right Turns” are intended to warn drivers of the inherent danger of entering a blind spot. When a tractor trailer makes a right-hand turn, the driver must start out moving to the left, then swing to the right. When the road is narrow, the back of the trailer can eliminate any space between the truck and the side of the road. This is a common way accidents involving commercial trucks happen in Pennsylvania.
Winning an injury case involving a truck hat made a right-hand turn can be among the most difficult. Often, the attorneys representing the trucking company will argue the injured driver is partly or entirely at fault for the accident. This is called Comparative Negligence. In Pennsylvania, if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for an accident involving a commercial truck, you cannot recover damages.
Accidents involving trucks making right-hand turns are very common in Philadelphia. Many drivers think they have a right to the road and do not understand the complexities of maneuvering a large truck on crowded city streets. You should never drive into the blind-spot of an 18-wheeler making a right turn. Truck drivers call this space “The Kill Zone” because of the number of deaths that happen every year to unsuspecting drivers not aware of a big rig's turning limitations.
Getting Help With Your Semi Accident Claim
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, our attorneys are here to help. Even if you think the accident might have been partially or entirely your fault, you should reach out to us immediately. We provide a free consultation specifically to discuss the facts of your case. Don’t assume it is your fault, or that you don’t have a case. Contact our personal injury lawyers today. Our extensive experience winning car accident claims caused by commercial drivers ensures you and your family will get the settlement you deserve without the stress of handling your case alone.
The nuanced laws in Pennsylvania can substantially impact the manner in which your case is handled. No-fault insurance policies can limit the money you are able to recover, and the specific rules restricting commercial drivers often means you have rights you might not know about. Our truck accident lawyers have decades of experience winning cases against trucking companies. We will get you and your family the medical help and financial security you deserve after being hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler that wasn’t your fault.
Truck Accidents Can Be Deadly
It’s 3:30 am and most of Pennsylvania is asleep. But on the highways all over the Commonwealth, truck drivers are hard at work. Some drivers have been on the road since early afternoon the day before, and they are still hours from their destination. Others are just getting underway, and it’ll be dark again before they are off the road.
Commercial truckers are a special type of person, with skill sets the average American neither has nor needs. They are highly trained and are experts at piloting 40 tons of steel and cargo over thousands of miles of highway and street. But, trucking accidents happen about every 15 minutes in the United States. Trucking accidents are some of the most dangerous of all vehicle crashes because of the size and weight of an 18-wheeler.
There are more than 13 million registered large trucks on American roads today. Around 4,500 people died in trucking accidents in 2017. Another 344,000 people were injured in crashes with commercial trucks.
How Common Are Tractor-Trailer Crashes?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the primary government agency that establishes rules for commercial trucking companies. The most recent year with complete data on tractor-trailer crashes compiled by FMCSA are for 2017. The data they provide indicates that truck drivers involved in fatal crashes are at-fault in 32% of collisions. Drivers of passenger cars involved in fatalities are responsible in 54% of fatal car crashes. You are less likely to be hit by an 18-wheeler than a passenger car. A 2017 FMCSA estimate finds that 450,000 crashes involving large trucks occur annually.
The big difference between a car crash and an accident with a semi truck is size. A fully loaded 18 wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. To put that in perspective, the average SUV in the U.S. weighs 4,800 lbs. A Toyota Prius weighs about 3,000 lbs. That difference in weight translates to catastrophic damage when a tractor trailer rig is involved in an accident.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
Most trucking accidents result from negligent drivers of other vehicles. Truck drivers are statistically less likely to be involved in an accident than other drivers, even though they are on the road for longer periods of time. Commercial drivers have special training and experience to help make them safer, but trucking accidents are always dangerous.
• Speed Kills
The leading cause of at-fault accidents caused by the driver of a commercial vehicle (including buses) was speeding. Excessive speed is always dangerous, even in a modern passenger car with excellent steering and brakes. A large truck does not stop quickly and cannot be maneuvered rapidly without serious danger.
The average 18 wheeler requires about 450 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 miles per hour. An average SUV on America’s roads today can stop in about 130 feet from the same speed. You can see the problem; a truck driving too fast for the conditions simply cannot stop quickly enough to avoid crashing into cars that stop faster. It may surprise you to know that an empty tractor trailer rig is more difficult to stop quickly than a loaded trailer.
The majority of fatal collisions involving large trucks in the U.S. happen when a truck can’t stop and crashes into other vehicles. Large trucks are more likely to be involved in multiple vehicle crashes with multiple fatalities than passenger vehicles for this reason.
FMCSA found speeding -along with other poor decision making skills- to be a dangerous factor in 38% of at-fault causes of trucking accidents. The study was done using data collected between 2001 and 2003. Today, fatalities involving tractor trailer rigs account for fewer deaths than in 2001, despite nearly five million more trucks on the road, proving that enforcement of laws and educating truck drivers is reducing fatal crashes.
• Distractions and Driving Don’t Mix
Truck drivers are just as prone to distractions as the rest of us. Whether it’s calls from dispatch on the radio about changes to schedules, or trying to drive and eat, there are plenty of things to cause commercial truck drivers to get distracted. Even a moment's inattention can be fatal to drivers around a big rig.
The data compiled between 2001 and 2003 by FMCSA on the causes of crashes found distracted driving to be a factor in 28% of all crashes involving large trucks and buses. Consider that the average amount of time it takes to check a text message while driving is 5 seconds. At 60 miles per hour, your car has traveled the length of a football field without you even looking.
In an emergency braking situation, a trucker needs at least 450 feet to stop. If that driver is distracted for five seconds before the accident, the truck is going to be moving dangerously fast when it strikes stopped cars.
• Less Common Driver-Related Causes
The vast majority of the car crashes caused by truckers happen as a result of speeding or distraction. Less common reasons truckers cause crashes are non-performance errors -such as falling asleep behind the wheel, and performance errors -like panicking and over-correcting. These two causes account for around 16% of truck driver-caused accidents.
In the 2003 study compiled by FMCSA, 87% of at-fault accidents involving truck drivers were due to driver errors.
• Other Causes of Accidents
Mistakes by commercial drivers cause the vast majority of at-fault accidents. Sometimes, the truck may fail, and this can cause some of the most dangerous accidents. A flat tire or a brake failure can cause an accident for any car or truck on the road. When a tractor trailer truck has a flat tire or it’s brakes go out, the chances of a dangerous accident are high.
• Dangerous Shifting Loads Cause Accidents
Mechanical problems are rare in trucking accidents. Trucks are required by law to be serviced properly and are regularly inspected. Trucks that don’t meet equipment standards are not allowed to work. Still, some problems can happen. The most dangerous mechanical problem is when the cargo carried by the truck unexpectedly shifts. This can cause the big rig to swerve, tip, lose control, and even flip over.
An astounding 57% of non-driver causes for trucking accidents involve shifting cargo. Accidents and injuries that result from shifting loads can happen to drivers being struck by cargo falling off the truck, the truck failing to remain in it’s lane, and even roll over accidents can be caused by shifting cargo.
• Mechanical Failures
Commercial trucks suffer from many of the same mechanical failures as passenger vehicles. Tire blow-outs, for example, are relatively common. When an 18 wheeler is on the highway and has a tire blow out, the driver can lose control and cause an accident. Truck tires are very large and heavy, and when a blowout happens, the rubber of the tire that comes off can strike other vehicles, causing injuries, damage, and crashes.
Commercial drivers and the companies they work for can be held liable in Pennsylvania for injuries, death and damage they cause while engaged in transporting cargo. The nuanced laws in Pennsylvania can provide numerous opportunities for skilled insurance negotiators and lawyers protecting the trucking company to reduce responsibility and avoid paying for damages they cause.
Dangerous Situations That Are Your Fault -But Not Always
One of the most delicate operations of driving a large truck is turning right. For a truck and trailer to execute a right turn, the driver must be to the left of the lane before starting to turn right. Truck drivers refer to the area on the right side of the truck as “The Suicide Zone,” because they can’t see cars easily. Once the truck begins to make its turn, the driver cannot see the right side of the trailer. Drivers frequently accelerate quickly into this zone in the hope of making the corner before the truck that has swung wide. Unfortunately for many drivers, there is rarely time. As the front of the truck takes the lane the driver turned into, the trailer will follow, narrowing the gap that the bold driver thought would speed up the drive. Even if you are sitting still, if you drive into the area to the right of a turning truck and are struck, you can be held liable for the damages and won’t be able to seek recovery for your own losses.
Hiring a Lawyer Helps You Win
Trucking accidents are incredibly dangerous. The sheer amount of damage a truck is capable of inflicting can easily kill and maim victims. Fighting against powerful insurance companies backed by large corporate trucking companies is intimidating and an exercise you should not have to go through alone.
Our highly trained attorneys have been winning cases against negligent trucking companies for decades. Even if you are not sure your accident wasn’t your fault, you should contact us. Our risk-free consultation gives you a chance to share the details of your case. We can figure out the best way to win, and make sure you get the medical coverage and financial compensation owed to you.