Losing a loved one in a Pennsylvania truck accident can be a heartbreaking and devastating event. Often times, these types of tragic accidents are caused by the negligence of a truck driver or the trucking company. If you have lost a loved one in such a horrific incident, you may wish to bring the at-fault parties to justice. However, if you have just had a death in the family, filing a lawsuit and dealing with mountains of paperwork may seem like a tall order.
At KaplunMarx PLLC, our attorneys have a successful track record of handling fatal truck accident cases in Pennsylvania. We know what it takes to fight and win again trucking companies that have large insurance companies and high-powered defense counsel at their beck and call. We will work hard to conduct a thorough investigation into the case, preserve all crucial evidence and fight to seek and obtain maximum compensation for your tremendous loss.
The Magnitude of the Problem
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,852 people died in large truck accidents in 2015, the most recent statistics available. Sixteen percent of these deaths were truck occupants, 69 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. The number of people who died in large truck crashes was 22 percent higher in 2015 than in 2009.
About 53 percent of deaths in large truck crashes in 2015 occurred on major roadways other than interstates and freeways, 30 percent occurred on interstates and freeways and 14 percent occurred on minor roads. Fifty-two percent of large truck occupant deaths in 2015 occurred in crashes in which vehicles rolled over.
This was similar to the percentage of SUV/pickup occupant deaths that occurred in rollover crashes and much higher than the percentage of occupant deaths in cars (23 percent) involving rollovers. Also, about 29 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in truck accidents were in head-on crashes with the large truck. Twenty percent involved the front of the passenger vehicle striking the rear of the large truck.
Why Do Fatal Truck Accidents Occur?
While truck accidents account for a smaller percentage of the total number of traffic accidents in Pennsylvania, they do account for a relatively larger percentage of the fatalities. Some of the common causes that lead to fatal large truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue: When the driver fails to get adequate rest before getting on the road, there is the danger of him or her falling asleep than the wheel. This could lead to devastating crashes.
- Excessive speed: When a truck driver breaks the law by violating the speed limit or operating at an unsafe speed there is a higher risk of a fatal crash. It takes a long time for a larger vehicle such as a big rig to come to a full stop. So, for example, when a truck driver fails to slow down for stopped traffic ahead, it could result in a rear-end crash or a chain-reaction collision impacting a number of vehicles and vehicle occupants.
- Improperly secured loads: Loads that are not properly secured to the trucks could fall off and cause fatal accidents when they strike other smaller vehicles.
- Equipment failure: When a truck’s brakes fail, for example, it could go out of control and cause a fatal crash.
- Other driver negligence: Impaired, distracted or reckless drivers could also cause catastrophic crashes that could result in one or more fatalities.
Truck Accidents That Result in Fatalities
Nearly any type of collision with a big rig has the potential to result in a fatality. There are a few types of truck accidents that present a greater risk of lethal injuries:
Jackknife accident: In a jackknife accident, a tractor towing a trailer skids, which causes the trailer to push it from behind until it spins around. When a truck jackknifes, the cab is facing the other direction. Often, other vehicles on the road are unable to stop in time to avoid a collision with the jackknifed truck. Such accidents are common in snowy weather or when the roadways are icy. Jackknifing is also commonly caused by speeding, sudden application of brakes, driver error and improperly adjusted brakes.
Underride crashes: These are among the most dangerous and deadliest types of truck accidents. This is when a smaller vehicle slides under a trailer and gets wedged underneath. These types of accidents could result in fatal injuries including decapitation. Underride crashes are often caused by dim or defective taillights on the truck, a broken down truck where the driver doesn’t properly use reflective triangles or a truck that has a weak rear guard.
Rear-end collisions: The average stopping distance for an 80,000-pound truck that is going at 60 mph is about 426 feet. The more loaded or heavier a truck is, the longer the stopping distance. When a truck driver is distracted, fatigued, traveling at an unsafe speed or simply lacks a sense of judgment, the risk of a rear-end collision increases. When a large truck strikes a smaller passenger vehicle from behind, there is a high risk of fatal injuries.
Families that have lost loved ones in a truck accident may be able to seek compensation for their losses by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver and his or her employer, the trucking company or truck owner. There are a number of different parties that may be held financially responsible for the victim’s wrongful death. An experienced Pennsylvania truck accident attorney will be able to analyze all aspects of the case and help you determine the best possible approach.
The knowledgeable truck accident lawyers at KaplunMarx PLLC understand the complexity and challenging nature of truck accident cases. We have the resources and the resolve to stand up and fight against large corporations on behalf of our clients. We fight hard and go the extra mile to help our clients secure maximum monetary compensation for their tremendous losses including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Call us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, and case evaluation.