More than five thousand people are killed every year in the United States due to a trucking accident. In fact, one out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a large commercial truck. A typically loaded big rig truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger car weighs closer to 3,000 pounds. In nearly all cases of a large commercial truck/passenger car accident, those in the smaller vehicle are much more likely to die or end up with severe injuries. A full 98% of the fatalities in a large truck/passenger car accident are those in the passenger vehicles. If you are the victim of a trucking accident, not only are you more likely to have serious injuries, you may also face difficulties determining who is liable for those injuries.
Liability for a Trucking Accident
The complexities associated with trucking accidents are due, primarily, to the fact that there can be more than one person or entity held responsible. In most instances, the truck driver bears some of the responsibility for the accident. The driver could have been driving too fast for the road conditions, driving recklessly, driving more hours than permitted by federal law, driving while distracted, or not paying proper attention to the roadway and the surrounding drivers. Truck drivers suffer the same distractions as other drivers; however, the results can be much more deadly. The truck driver may have been talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, fiddling with the radio or GPS device, or simply not paying attention. Another serious problem associated with truck drivers is driving fatigued. Despite the fact that the hours a truck driver may remain behind the wheel has been lowered to eleven hours, many believe this is simply too many hours at a stretch. Those who have driven for eleven hours straight understand just how exhausting it can be, yet truck drivers drive these hours day in and day out.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, numerous factors contribute to large truck crashes.
The trucking company which employs the driver may bear responsibility for the accident. The company may have failed to ensure that its drivers were adequately trained prior to sending them out on the road, or may not have performed a proper background check. In the past, trucking companies would attempt to avoid all liability by leasing the tractors and trailers, and classifying their drivers as independent contractors. This would allow the trucking company to claim that the driver was not their employee; therefore, they were not responsible. Federal laws and regulations have mostly put an end to trucking companies attempting to dodge responsibility. Even in cases where the trucking company did not specifically commit an act of negligence, it may still be found liable for the accident by virtue of the employee/employer relationship.
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The manufacturer of the truck may be held liable for the accident if the accident was caused by faulty equipment such as defective brakes or tires. The company or person responsible for maintaining the truck could also be found liable if the truck was not maintained to industry standards, and the accident was due to lack of maintenance. Even the company responsible for loading the truck could potentially be found liable for the accident if the cargo was not properly secured, and an accident resulted. In one trucking accident case, an entire load of phone books slid off an 18-wheeler trailer, causing numerous accidents on a freeway. The load had not been properly secured by the loading company, and the truck driver neglected to check the load, making both potentially liable.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, it may turn out that more than one person or entity can be held liable for your injuries. Trucking, hauling, leasing, and loading companies may even argue among themselves over whose insurance will compensate the victim. Because many trucks now have a “black box” installed, which is similar to that in an airplane, determining liability may be easier once your attorney subpoenas that black box in order to ensure that this important evidence is preserved. The black box can show how fast the driver was driving, whether the brakes were applied, whether evasive actions were taken, how long the driver had been on the road, and even past speed patterns. Don’t wait to speak to a personal injury attorney following your truck accident with injuries. The sooner your attorney is able to request information, the more likely that information will still be available.
Contact Our Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, the experienced Pennsylvania trucking accident lawyers at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., can help. Our team of lawyers consists of some of the best attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we will fight aggressively for you throughout the legal process.
The trucking accident attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have over 68 years experience represent injured accident victims and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton counties.
We are also proud to serve injured accident victims throughout the State of New Jersey. Contact us today at 215-568-1510 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options.