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Truck Accident Attorney
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Large trucks, 18-Wheelers, and semis are a leading cause of many traffic related deaths in the United States. Pennsylvania in particular has witnessed some of the worst trucking accidents in the country.
A tractor-trailer or eighteen-wheeler can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. Due to their size and weight, commercial trucks are dangerous and essentially guaranteed to crush smaller vehicles in an accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2017 of the approximately 450,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks, 23% resulted in injury and 1% resulted in death.
Everything You Should Know About
Pennsylvania Truck Crash Injuries
Truck accidents are different from car accidents.
Because truck accident cases are complicated and will involve commercial trucking companies and insurance policies, it is crucial for a truck accident victim to take the right steps after a truck accident to ensure they receive fair and full compensation for their losses.
If you have suffered injuries or property loss after being involved in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages for:
- Pain and suffering
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Loss of enjoyment or pleasure of life
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Incidental costs
- Psychological damages
- Loss of consortium
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At-Fault Truck Driver
All trucks and drivers are subject to state and federal laws and regulations to minimize accident risks. However, some truck drivers and commercial trucking companies will ignore safety laws in order to meet their deadlines and maximize profits. The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Commercial trucks, truck drivers and trucking companies must follow these standard and regulations.
A truck driver who is found in violation of safety regulations and causes an accident, may be liable to an injured driver for their losses. The majority of all truck accidents are caused by a truck driver who was not using reasonable care while driving or who was in violation of safety regulations.
Truck driver negligence may include:
- Distracted driving
- Texting and driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Not following traffic signals
- Not yielding the right-of-way
- Not abiding by safety regulations
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Tired/sleepy driving
At-Fault Trucking Company
The commercial trucking company can also be found negligent for causing a trucking accident. Trucking companies may intentionally or recklessly violate transportation regulations or safety requirements to increase their profit margins. When these violations contribute to causing a trucking accident, that company may be held liable for any injuries or damages caused.
Examples of trucking company negligence include:
- Overloaded trailers
- Allowing overweight vehicles
- Not properly maintaining trucks
- Poor driver hiring and training practices
- Allowing trucks to carry unbalanced cargo
- Failing to monitor drivers
- Encouraging drivers to forego sleep and hour restrictions
- Allowing or encouraging drivers to drive in violation of safety laws
- Negligent retention of underqualified or underperforming employees
How Truck Accidents are Different from Car Accidents
Truck accidents are very different from car accidents. Trucking accidents involve other factors that are not common to car accidents, such as trucking industry laws, commercial trucking insurance coverage, special accident investigations, and the increased severity of injuries and fatalities.
- Trucking industry laws – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented various trucking regulations intended to make roads safer for all truck drivers and every motorist on the road. All commercial truck drivers are required to follow the regulations implemented by the FMCSA. Failing to comply with these safety regulations will almost guarantee the commercial trucking companies will be held liable.
- Truck accident investigations – investigations and gathering evidence for truck accident cases is significantly more extensive than in car accident cases. The insurance companies have special teams that go quickly to the crash site to begin an investigation. It is important to retain the services of a skilled truck accident lawyer who knows the protocol for gathering evidence and who will do so in a timely manner to preserve any crucial evidence.
Available Damages After a Trucking Accident
Broadly speaking, compensatory damages can be divided in either of the two following categories, economic damages and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages include tangible losses, such as property damage
- Non-economic damages include intangible losses, such as pain and suffering
Economic damages in a trucking accident may include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Property loss
- Vehicle repairs
- Lost earning capacity
- Future medical treatment
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical disability or disfigurement
A plaintiff may be able to sue for damages. Punitive damages may be awarded on top of the normal compensatory. An aggrieved individual may be entitled to punitive damages which are intended to punish a wrongdoer for their negligent or malicious behavior.
Suing After a Truck Accident
It is crucial to understand that personal injury victims, including trucking accident victims, will typically have two years to file a claim for damages. It is important for truck accident injury victims to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. A truck accident lawyer knows the trucking industry rules and regulations and can uncover any truck driver or trucking company violations.
It goes without saying that truck accident investigations and claims are complex. A truck accident lawsuit will list all potential responsible parties who had or may have had a role in causing an accident.
Depending on the specifics of your trucking accident, the list of responsible parties may include:
- the truck driver
- the city or county governments
- any drivers who were involved
- the commercial trucking company
Finally, even if a truck driver was directly responsible for causing your accident, the commercial trucking company can be held liable for the negligence of their employees.
Can I File a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Family Member Who Was Killed?
Generally when a person passes away due to the negligence of another person, there are two different types of claims that may be brought.
A wrongful death action is brought on behalf of the family, 42 PA.C.S.A Section 8301. A survival action is brought by a representative of the decedent’s estate to bring a claim for the person who passed away, 41 PA.C.S.A. Section 8302.
As the surviving spouse of someone who was killed after a truck accident, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim to recover damages.
The family members who are entitled to file a wrongful death claim include:
- The surviving spouse
- The decedent’s children
- The surviving decedent’s parents
Recoverable damages after a wrongful death lawsuit will include the economic loss to the decedent’s family as well as loss of services, society and comfort the decedent would have provided if he or she lived.
Additional damages include funeral expenses and medical expenses.
A survival action brought on behalf of the person who died and includes pain and suffering of a person that occurred between the collision and time of death, lost wages. Survival action allows the estate to be awarded damages that the decedent could have recovered had they lived.
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If you have been injured in a truck accident, you can count on the legal team at Scherline & Associates to fight for you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.