Truck accidents have the potential to result in catastrophic or fatal injuries. A majority of large truck crashes involve occupants of passenger vehicles. Large trucks or big rigs weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger cars, making occupants of the smaller vehicles more vulnerable to severe injuries. Large trucks are taller with greater ground clearance, which could result in smaller vehicles getting wedged under big rigs. Federal statistics show that when big rigs collide with smaller vehicles, 98 percent of the fatalities involve drivers or occupants of the passenger vehicle.
The experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys at KaplunMarx PLLC have a long and successful track record of fighting for the rights of injured victims of large truck accidents and families that have lost loved ones in these traumatic events. Trucking firms work with large insurance corporations that fight to protect their best interests. As a victim, you need a vocal advocate on your side who will safeguard your rights every step of the way and help you secure maximum compensation for your tremendous losses.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Truck driver fatigue
Driving while drowsy is one of the most common causes of truck accidents in Pennsylvania? Commercial drivers in the United States are subject to what are known as "hours of service" (HOS) regulations, which limit the number of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel before they take rest breaks. However, a number of truck drivers and trucking firms ignore these important regulations in order to meet tough deadlines and delivery schedules. Sleepy truck drivers can cause devastating rear-end crashes or head-on collisions, which often result in fatalities.
Driving while impaired
Commercial truck drivers are held to a much higher standard than drivers of passenger vehicles. The legal limit for truck drivers is 0.04 percent compared to 0.08 percent for drivers of passenger vehicles. When truck drivers operate an 80,000-pound vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, it could put everyone on the road in harm's way. Prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs could also impair a truck driver's reaction time, judgment and distance perception.
It is fairly common for drivers who are rushing to meet deadlines to violate posted speed limits or drive at a speed that is unsafe given traffic, roadway or weather conditions. Truck drivers who are in a hurry to reach their destinations may also indulge in other unsafe driving practices such as making improper lane changes and following other vehicles too closely.
Driving while distracted is a huge problem nationwide and truckers are no exception. Federal law prohibits truckers from texting while driving. However, there are other distractions that could be equally dangerous including using communications devices, talking on the cell phone, eating or grooming while driving.
Lack of truck maintenance
Big rigs are required to be properly maintained under federal law. Truck drivers and companies are required to ensure that all parts including tires and brakes are properly maintained and that defective parts are replaced. However, often, truck companies don't maintain their vehicles as mandated by the law. In fact, inadequately maintained large trucks are among the leading causes of truck accidents.
Injuries and Damages
Truck accidents often result in major injuries that could leave an individual with long-term or even lifelong injuries. Some of the injuries that victims commonly sustain in truck accidents include but are not limited to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, multiple broken bones, internal injuries, and amputations. These types of injuries can turn lives upside down. Individuals may lose significant income as they attempt to recover from their injuries. In some cases, they may never be able to return to work as a result of catastrophic injuries they may have sustained.
Injured victims of truck accidents can seek compensation for damages including:
- Medical expenses: This includes all types of costs associated with emergency transportation, hospitalization, surgeries, cost of medication and medical equipment.
- Lost income: Injured victims can seek compensation for the income they may have lost because they missed several weeks or months of work. In some cases, they may have even lost their jobs or livelihoods because the injury they sustained may not allow them to return to work.
- Cost of rehabilitation: When individuals suffer major injuries such as brain or spinal cord trauma, they may need extensive rehabilitation and therapy. They may be able to recover the cost of past and future treatment expenses.
- Pain and suffering: This refers to physical pain and the mental anguish truck accident victims go through in the aftermath of a devastating accident.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
There are a number of parties that can be held liable for damages in a truck accident case. The truck driver could be held accountable for negligence, which may have caused or contributed to the crash. In addition, the truck driver's employer, whether it is a trucking firm or corporation, could also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses caused to the victim. The trucking firm or company could also be held liable if the accident was caused by a mechanical malfunction triggered by lack of maintenance. If the accident was caused by a defective vehicle part, the manufacturer of the truck and/or the faulty part can also be held liable. An experienced Pennsylvania truck accident lawyer will be able to help ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
It is crucial to ensure that all evidence is preserved in the aftermath of a truck accident. Such evidence could be critical when it comes to proving your claim. Pieces of evidence such as truck driver logs, vehicle maintenance records or cell phone records could get destroyed if they are not promptly preserved. A knowledgeable attorney can send a spoliation letter to ensure that these and other pieces of evidence are preserved.
At KaplunMarx PLLC, our truck accident lawyers will remain with you every step of the way. We will assist you with investigating the cause of the accident, interview witnesses and subpoena crucial evidence. Our goal is to help you secure fair and full compensation for all your injuries, damages and losses. Call us to schedule a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.
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