The trucking industry plays a central role in our nation’s economy. But large commercial vehicles that aren’t operated properly can cause serious injury or fatality. A smaller car is no match for a large truck like a tractor-trailer. Passenger vehicle occupants are too often killed by a trucking company or truck driver’s negligence.
Truck accident victims have the legal right to obtain financial compensation from at-fault parties. If you were injured in a Pennsylvania truck accident, a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs is ready to advocate for you.
We’ll help file your truck accident claim and fight to get the compensation you deserve. Truck accidents can take away your health and financial security. Your life may never be the same after a tractor-trailer accident. The experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorneys from Shrager & Sachs personal injury law firm represent truck accident clients across PA. We make sure you are treated fairly by the insurance company and fully compensated for your losses.
How Can a Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney Help Me?
After a trucking accident, most injured occupants of passenger vehicles face severe losses. You’re likely struggling to recover from injuries, attend doctor’s appointments, figure out transportation, and deal with missed work and lost income. All of this can take a serious toll on your physical, emotional, and financial health. If a loved one was killed in a semi-truck accident, your losses are even more substantial.
Commercial truck collisions are almost always preventable. If this is the case, the law demands that the negligent party compensate you for the damages they caused—whether that be economic losses like medical bills or noneconomic losses like pain and suffering.
After your truck crash, you can work with an experienced personal injury attorney to file a truck accident claim against the at-fault driver, company, or other party. This legal action serves to bring justice to your situation and prevent similar truck crashes in the future.
Why Shrager & Sachs Is the Best Law Firm To Handle Truck Accidents
We are proud of the hard work our Philadelphia truck accident lawyers devote to making Pennsylvania’s highways safer. When we take your case, truck companies pay attention. Our reputation for excellence and fairness is grounded in decades of experience handling complex trucking accidents.
As your Philadelphia truck accident attorneys, our legal team will work persistently and exhaustively on your behalf. We make a promise to:
- Conduct a painstaking accident investigation to determine any cause that contributed to your truck crash
- Research the role a truck driver, commercial truck company, or truck manufacturer may have played in the trucking accident
- Compile a strong body of evidence to prove your claim, including video and photographs, truck black box data, police reports, driver records, drug and alcohol test results, and more
- Ensure the full extent of your injuries and the cost of future medical care are calculated in the value of your claim
- Place the highest value on your accident claim, accounting for every way in which your life was altered by the truck crash
- Negotiate with insurance companies to obtain full compensation to cover medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other damages
- Handle your wrongful death claim with compassion, sensitivity, and expert guidance if a loved one was lost in the truck accident
- Take your personal injury lawsuit to court if the motor carrier and their insurance company refuse to give you full and fair compensation
- Give your case the attention it deserves with the understanding that no two trucking accidents are alike
- Personalize your experience and consider the unique needs of you and your family
- Keep in close communication with you every step of the way
What Causes Pennsylvania Truck Accidents and Who Is Liable?
Tractor-trailers are different from other types of motor vehicles. A large truck can be up to 20-30 times larger than a passenger car by weight. This makes commercial trucks vulnerable to a number of factors not seen in other kinds of vehicle accidents.
There are also complications related to the commercial vehicle industry. By the time a truck driver’s trip begins, many other people have already been involved in the process—from the truck manufacturer to the shipping company to the dispatchers, loaders, and maintenance workers.
Let’s look at some of the parties most often responsible for truck wrecks in PA:
A truck driver’s negligent actions can be the direct cause of a truck accident. Aggressive driving, for example, is a factor in some large truck accidents. Driver fatigue or a failure to adjust for poor weather conditions may also contribute. Sadly, substance abuse is prevalent among commercial drivers who are unable to cope with the extreme (and often unlawful) demands of the industry. We have seen many truck crashes in PA happen because a truck driver was intoxicated, fatigued, distracted, or inexperienced behind the wheel.
Your Philadelphia truck accident attorney will obtain the truck driver’s information and conduct a thorough investigation into their actions and history.
Is the Truck Driver Always Liable for an Accident?
There is a common misconception that the truck driver is always responsible for the trucking accident. In fact, many truck drivers are as much a victim of corporate negligence as passenger vehicles on the road around them.
Commercial vehicle companies are known to push drivers to complete more miles in less time—even if that means working beyond federal hours of service limits, driving without adequate training, or skipping necessary inspections. While driver fatigue may seem like it’s the driver’s own fault, in some cases, the employer may actually be to blame. Truck drivers sometimes face the impossible choice of following unrealistic schedules or losing their jobs.
An accident involving a large truck may result from one or more party’s negligent actions.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Truck Accident
Commercial trucking is a highly-involved endeavor. Along the way, one or more person may not exercise caution as they should. When we investigate large truck accidents, we look into the actions of the:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck owner (if different from the truck driver or company)
- Loading or shipping company
- Truck parts manufacturing company
- Drivers of other vehicles on the road
What Are the Leading Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents in PA?
Based on our experience practicing truck accident law in southeastern Pennsylvania, we’ve found that large truck accidents are most commonly caused by one or more of the following factors:
An inexperienced, reckless, or intoxicated driver puts others at risk of serious injury. Speeding, tailgating, violating traffic laws, and other dangerous behaviors significantly increase the chance of a motor vehicle accident. Actions like taking turns too sharply, failing to check blind spots, traveling too fast downhill, and merging without turn signals cause serious truck accidents almost every day in our nation.
Texting and driving becomes an even more serious offense when the driver is behind the wheel of a 40-ton commercial vehicle. Other distractions like talking on a cell phone, watching videos, reading a navigation system, reaching around the truck cab, or eating and drinking can all take the driver’s eyes, hands, and focus off the road.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations limit how long a truck driver can stay on the road or drive without rest. These regulations are in place to reduce instances of fatigued driving. Drivers without adequate rest are more prone to impaired judgment, highway hypnosis, drifting out of lanes, slowed reaction times, and falling asleep at the wheel.
Overloaded and Poorly-Secured Cargo
Many crashes have occurred because a trailer wasn’t secure or was overloaded. A truck can’t safely haul cargo when it’s over its carrying capacity. Both truck drivers and loading personnel have a duty to make sure tractor-trailers are properly loaded and secured before setting out.
The cargo must be distributed evenly, so one part of the trailer isn’t carrying more weight than the other. Improper distribution can cause the cargo to shift and throw the vehicle off balance. It can also place too much stress on the transmission and brakes, leading to mechanical failure.
Defective Truck Issues
Crashes occur when large trucks and auto parts are designed or manufactured with a defect. The truck company also has an obligation to check their vehicles to make sure they’re running properly and meeting all safety standards. In the case of a defect, the manufacturing company or the trucking company could be liable for negligence.
Ice, snow, and heavy rain in and around Philadelphia can make roads slippery and decrease visibility. Large commercial trucks need to be handled carefully in poor weather. Trucking companies have a responsibility to train drivers on how to appropriately handle large trucks under varying conditions.
How Many Truck Accidents Happen in Philadelphia and PA?
According to the 2020 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics report:
- There were 6,344 truck accidents in Pennsylvania in 2020.
- Although large trucks were involved in only 6% of total crashes, over 10% of all fatalities resulted from truck accidents.
- A total of 122 people were killed in fatal crashes involving a large truck.
- Only 1.9% of all crash fatalities occurred among occupants (drivers or passengers) of commercial trucks. Almost all accident victims were occupants of smaller passenger vehicles.
Types of Truck Accidents
Handling a truck requires a specific set of skills. Truck drivers need to be aware of the dangers their vehicle poses when driven improperly. For example, big rigs take longer to fully stop and turn. Safely maneuvering an 18-wheeler means planning ahead and giving the vehicle time and distance to slow down.
The following are some of the most common types of truck accidents and their causes.
What Causes Blind Spot Accidents?
Commercial trucks have larger blind spots than cars. A truck driver can’t see an object within 20 feet in front of the vehicle or within 30 feet behind the trailer. There is also a one-lane blind spot to the left and a two-lane blind spot to the right, making turning dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other drivers.
Blind spot truck accidents are caused by a truck driver’s failure to ensure blind spots are clear, often coupled with a failure to warn others of turning or merging.
What Causes Rollovers?
A high center of gravity can cause a trailer to roll over if the driver is speeding or oversteering. During a rollover, the driver loses control and a vehicle collision or property damage to nearby buildings can result. Truck drivers must be cautious in high winds to avoid “sail effect” on the broadside of the trailer. Overloading and poorly-distributed cargo also cause rollovers.
What Causes Jackknifing?
A jackknife accident is when the tractor and trailer components of the truck form an angle, making an “L” or “V” shape. This creates a situation in which the cab and trailer are moving in different directions. It usually occurs when a truck skids (due to speeding, ice, or brake failure) and the trailer swings around toward the front of the truck cab. This type of truck accident is particularly dangerous to nearby passenger cars.
What Causes Underride and Override Accidents?
In an underride crash, the vehicle behind the truck drives underneath the trailer, usually when the truck brakes abruptly. In an override, the front of the truck drives over the car in front of it. In both of these scenarios, the smaller car becomes trapped under the larger truck. The truck may shear off the top part of the passenger car, putting the driver and other vehicle occupants in danger of severe or fatal injuries.
Compensation for Victims of Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accident victims injured by another party’s negligence can obtain compensation for their losses through legal action. This financial award covers the numerous expenses they are suddenly facing. For many individuals, one of the most pressing financial needs is medical expenses.
The cost of medical care after a truck accident is hard for many people to imagine. The injuries associated with truck accidents are often catastrophic and cause permanent damage. Some injuries, like broken bones, may heal over time. But other injuries, like paralysis, can completely change a person’s future.
After a truck accident, an injured party may never achieve full recovery. This means a lifetime of physical therapy and other forms of treatment, in addition to diminished earning capacity. Common truck accident injuries requiring long-term care include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Loss of limb
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Permanent disfigurement
When a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs represents you, we’ll make sure to seek compensation that covers all the damages of the accident. You’ll be able to get the treatment needed for your serious injuries without worrying about how you will pay for it.
We’ll also look to cover the costs of future care, both physical and emotional. You may have psychological injuries that need to be addressed in addition to your physical injuries. If you require ongoing treatments, assistive medical equipment, surgeries, mental health counseling, or prescription medication, your truck accident lawyer will factor this into your compensation.
What Damages Are Available After a Philadelphia Truck Accident?
Medical expenses aren’t the only damages associated with a serious truck accident. During your free consultation at our law office, your Philadelphia truck accident attorneys will work to gain a complete understanding of the ways your life was impacted by the crash.
At Shrager & Sachs, we make it a point to consider both your economic and noneconomic damages, meaning both those that have a definitive monetary value and those that don’t. Your economic damages may include:
- Medical costs
- Lost income and benefits
- Loss of future earnings
- Cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Transportation, childcare, and other daily expenses
Noneconomic damages are harder to calculate and prove, because they don’t have a set value. This means that your truck accident lawyer will need to fight harder to get you the compensation you deserve. At Shrager & Sachs, we put in whatever effort it takes because we believe noneconomic losses are every bit as important as tangible bills. These damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of consortium, companionship, guidance, and care in the case of a loved one’s wrongful death
Tactics Trucking Companies Use To Avoid Liability
It probably comes as no surprise that most trucking companies aren’t eager to admit liability for a tractor-trailer accident. Accepting liability usually means a large payout to injured victims, insurance penalties, fines for violating federal and state regulations, and possibly criminal charges.
It’s sadly common to see truck companies engage in dishonest or even illegal practices in an effort to protect their reputation and bottom line. Your truck accident case will have the best chance of success if you work with a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer who is highly experienced and knowledgeable in the field. This way, you can be sure your legal representative is aware of and can handle the tactics trucking, and insurance companies use to protect themselves.
Employ Independent Contractors
Trucking companies can sometimes shield themselves from accident liability by hiring independent contractors instead of full-time employees. This lowers their level of legal responsibility for training, managing, and scheduling drivers. And if a collision does occur, the company can distance itself from the actions of a driver who is technically not an employee.
Erase Evidence of Hours of Service Violations
Drivers are required to maintain electronic records of their hours on duty. This is to prevent violations of federal hours of service regulations. However, it’s not difficult for a company employee to manually erase or falsify these records. If a fatigued driver’s actions caused your collision, it’s possible that your attorney’s investigation could reveal a dangerous culture of overworking drivers at the company.
Destroy Physical Evidence in the Vehicle
Immediately after a wreck, the trucking company may claim to be taking the vehicle in for repairs. But this is often a quick way for the company to cover up evidence of wrongdoing, such as worn-out brake pads or bald tires that should have been changed long before the crash. Your personal injury attorney may need to take prompt legal action to prevent critical evidence from being destroyed.
Blame the Other Driver
A well-known tactic long used by insurance companies is to overstate your percentage of fault or outright blame you for the accident. You may be accused of being distracted or otherwise negligent behind the wheel. The company may even try to claim you are exaggerating or making up your injuries.
You can be sure your Philadelphia truck accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs will not allow an insurance company to shift the blame for their client’s negligence onto you. We’ll stand up and protect you when companies resort to tactics like these.
How Long Do I Have To File a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
After a commercial trucking collision, it’s important to take action as soon as you can. Filing a personal injury claim right away will give your lawyer the opportunity to preserve evidence before it’s too late. Under Pennsylvania law, there are also statutes of limitations that apply to truck accident cases.
In most cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. If you wait too long, you risk decreasing the compensation you can be awarded. Even worse, you may miss an important deadline, and your case will be thrown out by the state court system. Get in touch with a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer right away to put your case in the most capable hands.
How a Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer From Shrager & Sachs Can Fight for You
The lawyers at Shrager & Sachs have a history of getting successful results for our clients. We recently settled a claim for $5.44 million for a passenger who was involved in an accident with an overloaded tank truck. We’re prepared to go above and beyond to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact our office today for a free consultation. One of our Philadelphia truck accident attorneys will go over the facts of your case and explain your legal options. You can have peace knowing that your advocate will work hard for you while you focus on recovery. We’ll seek compensation so you can heal physically, emotionally, and financially. Let us help you on your legal journey.