Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer
Tractor-trailers are a common sight on the highways of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. With almost 70% of the nation’s commercial freight being delivered by trucks, the trucking business is one of our largest and most competitive industries.
Unfortunately, this competition often leads companies to place pressure on their drivers, sometimes imposing unrealistic schedules in the name of making a quick delivery. In order to meet these high demands, many truck drivers operate their vehicles under dangerous circumstances, making 18-wheelers a growing threat to other motorists on the road.
Why Truck Accidents Happen
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone suffers serious injury or wrongful death in a large commercial truck accident every 16 minutes. If this statistic is unsettling, the most frustrating part is that in many cases, these truck accidents are preventable.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue
- Defective vehicle parts
- Speeding and/or reckless driving
- Drug use
- Oversized or improperly-secured loads
Out of these, the single most common reason for commercial truck collisions is driver fatigue. Many trucking companies pay their drivers by the mile, encouraging them to make deliveries as quickly as possible in order to maximize their paycheck. In an attempt to counteract driver fatigue, federal law limits the amount of consecutive hours a truck driver can operate their vehicle in a day, requiring drivers to take mandated rest breaks between long shifts.
Unfortunately, drivers will often shorten their rest breaks and falsify their driving logs in order to spend more time on the road each day. When sleep deprivation becomes a problem, some drivers will even resort to using drugs such as methamphetamines (speed) to stay awake.
Personal Injuries Common to Truck Accidents
As in the case of car accidents, certain types of physical injuries tend to occur among victims of truck accidents. Yet it stands to reason that they can be more severe. Is it any wonder that 66 percent of all truck accident fatalities happen to drivers or passengers in smaller vehicles, rather than to pedestrians or the truck drivers themselves? The force of a truck hitting a car is so intense–up to 30 times greater than the highest force of the car–that some victims cannot survive the impact.
Despite these sobering statistics, many people are able to leave the scene of a truck crash with their lives. Still, they may carry a physical reminder (sometimes for the rest of their lives) in the form of:
- Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Back and Neck Injuries
- Fractures and Broken Bones
- Lacerations and Bruises.
Each of these injury types can be painful and costly. In some situations, they may even be life-threatening. Because of this, victims of a Pennsylvania truck crash are wise to consider the value of working with a personal injury attorney to recover their losses.
Where Do Truck Accidents Happen Most Often in PA?
According to information gathered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck accidents are most likely to occur on both major highways and in rural areas. In Pennsylvania, some of the busiest roadways are the Turnpike and several routes leading in and around the commonwealth such as Route 81, Route 15, Route 78, Route 83, Route 30, and Route 80. Not surprisingly, most truck crashes happen during heavy traffic flows during the weekdays, as well as during questionable weather like snow, ice, hail, heavy wind, and downpours.
Of course, a truck accident can still happen anytime, anywhere, in PA or another state. This includes at work sites and in parking lots.
What Types of Trucks Are Involved in Truck Crashes?
When most people hear the words “large truck,” they immediately envision big rigs, tractor trailers, and 18-wheelers. While these types of trucks can cause accidents, so can many others.
What are additional kinds of trucks that can be hazardous on the roadways?
- Single-trailer trucks
- Double-trailer trucks
- “Triples” (trucks pulling three trailers)
- Bucket trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Agricultural vehicles
- Passenger buses
- Flatbed trucks
- Tanker trucks
- Refrigerator trucks
- Dump and garbage trucks
- Log (or other similar type of exposed freight) carriers.
Product Liability and Truck Accidents
Any type of consumer product can break down and potentially cause personal injury or death. A large truck is certainly no exception to this rule.
For instance, a truck may have faulty steering because of manufacturing defects. If the steering winds up being the reason (or a part of the reason) for a truck crash, victims or their survivors may want to pursue a product liability case. In such an instance, the plaintiffs would seek to receive compensation from the manufacturer of the defective equipment, rather than from the truck driver or his/her employer.
A personal injury attorney can help decide whether a truck accident may fall under the category of a product liability claim based on the reports and collision investigation.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
If you get into an accident with a truck, you must take action quickly. As long as you are not seriously injured, follow these steps.
- Remain at the scene. Even if you think you or your passengers are not hurt, do not leave before officials arrive to assess the site. Leaving (even if the driver of the truck says it’s fine) could be considered a criminal activity if there is damage to the vehicle. Besides, some injuries do not present themselves immediately, making it important to have a record of what happened.
- Move vehicles only if necessary. In most cases, you should move your vehicle on the side of the road after a truck crash only if it was a “fender bender” or caused very mild to moderate damage.
- Contact 911. Don’t assume that someone else will phone in your emergency. The faster dispatchers know about the truck accident, the faster help will arrive.
- Keep injured passengers, drivers, and pedestrians calm. People often respond emotionally to being in an accident, especially if they have been hurt. Talk to them and try to keep them calm. However, do not move them unless they are in immediate danger, as in the case of someone in a vehicle that has caught fire.
- Record the scene with your phone. Since most people keep their smartphones on them at all times, use yours to document everything. Others may do likewise, but never rely on someone else’s diligence. Be thorough. It’s fine to take video and images.
- Get the truck driver’s information. You will need his or her identification, license plate number, insurance, etc. At the same time, plan to give yours as well.
- Be honest when making statements. Only give a statement to police that is 100-percent genuine. Many times, accident victims place or take immediate blame, which can become problematic. Try to put your emotions aside and talk about your experience as objectively as you can.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer when you are safely back home. Even if you have not discussed insurance coverage or fault, you may want to get in touch with an attorney who specializes in truck accidents. This makes it easier in the future to work with him or her if you decide to move forward with a personal injury case.
As a final note, if you or a loved one has been injured in the truck crash, be sure to document all your medical appointments, costs, etc. Winning a personal injury claim is less stressful when you have all the information you need at your fingertips and you’ve done all you can to help yourself.
Trucking Companies Are Prepared for Truck Accidents: Are You?
When a truck accident occurs, trucking companies will immediately send their own set of representatives, lawyers, and investigators out to the scene of the accident with the goal of collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and taking possession of the truck’s data records. Because of this, it is crucial that you know how to protect yourself legally after a truck accident. If you do not quickly obtain representation of your own, you could lose access to the evidence needed to pursue your case. Choosing an experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorneys will be one of the most important steps you take towards receiving the compensation you deserve after your accident.