Injuries sustained during a commercial truck vs. passenger vehicle accident are severe and can potentially cause hospitalization. During a patient’s recovery time, they may start to incur expensive medical costs while they’re also missing work. Victims from serious accidents of this nature deserve answers and reliable personal injury attorneys to defend their rights.
If you’re in this situation, you’ll want a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs at your side. We’ll help you with your claim and fight for you to get the compensation you deserve. We’ll hold the negligent party responsible for their actions, so you won’t have to worry about financial stress during your recovery.
Philadelphia Truck Accident Statistics
2018 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics reported on tractor-trailer accidents in Pennsylvania. According to this report, the total crashes were highest since 2014 and the fatal crashes were lowest in the last five years. The main factor that unites these numbers is that nearly all of them were preventable. Whether the negligence was caused by the driver, the trucking company, an auto part manufacturer, or another irresponsible party, these numbers wouldn’t be this high had those individuals and groups acted competently.
The following statistics were true in 2018 in Pennsylvania:
- There were 7,910 heavy trucks involved in accidents, resulting in 21 occupant fatalities.
- Heavy trucks made up 29.1 percent of turnpike work zone crashes.
- 42 drivers of big rigs were drunk when they caused an accident.
- 10.7% of semi crashes were fatal.
- 5.5% percent of semi crashes caused injuries.
Truck accident claims can get complicated. The law firm of Shrager & Sachs understands how difficult they can be.
Unique Dangers of Commercial Trucks
Handling a truck is much different from a car. Drivers need to be comfortable in a semi-trailer that can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. With its size and weight, drivers have to be aware of the dangers this vehicle poses when it’s not being driven properly.
Big rigs take longer to fully stop and turn. The driver can’t expect to safely maneuver the 18 wheeler if they don’t plan ahead and give the vehicle time and space to slow down.
Drivers also need to be aware of the following:
- Blind Spots. Commercial trucks have more blind spots than smaller vehicles when they’re on the road. The driver will have trouble seeing a car within the first 20 feet of the front of the vehicle. The driver has a one-lane blind spot to the left and a two-lane blind spot to the right, making it dangerous for cars when the truck is making a turn. The driver also has a blind spot of up to 30 feet in the back of the trailer. Drivers need to always check their mirrors and signal turns early so cars have time to get out of the way.
- Rolling Over. The height and weight of a semi can cause the trailer to roll over if the driver is speeding or oversteering. When the trailer rolls over, the driver loses control of the vehicle. The trailer can crush other cars that are in its path.
- Jackknifing. When an 18 wheeler skids on the road from hitting ice or the driver slams on the brakes, the trailer’s wheels may still continue to move and swing out beside the tractor-trailer’s and form a 90-degree angle. These accidents can catch cars underneath the trailer or collide with others in the truck’s path.
- Underride and Override. These crashes can be deadly. In an underride crash, the vehicle behind the truck cuts trapped underneath the back of the trailer. An override is when the front of the semi-trailer goes over the rear of the car in front of it. In both of these scenarios, the car is stuck under a part of the truck. When a vehicle is trapped in an underride or override, the driver loses control. Unfortunately, the tractor-trailer can shear off part of the car, putting the driver and other vehicle occupants in danger of severe or fatal injuries.
Drivers need to have proper training and education about these dangers and what to do to prevent them from causing accidents. Trucking companies that don’t have an in-depth hiring process may be bringing in drivers who aren’t prepared to do the job. When they fail to do this, their negligence puts others at risk.
When trucking companies take shortcuts that cause others to suffer from devastating injuries, we’re prepared to hold them accountable.
Identifying a Dangerous Truck Driver
When you’re on the road, you should be alert for any potentially dangerous drivers—including truck drivers. If you’re near a semi-trailer or big rig, it’s important to keep in mind this driver could be fatigued, aggressive, or distracted while behind the wheel. Noticing the signs of a dangerous driver can alert you to put space between you and the 18 wheeler and reduce the chances of getting into an accident.
If you see a truck doing the following, they may not be in full control of their vehicle:
- Swerving. If the truck isn’t staying in their lane, there’s a chance they could swerve in front of your lane or run off the road. If the driver tries to correct their steering, they could also lose control of the vehicle.
- Tailgating. A trucker who’s tailgating other vehicles is more likely to collide in an accident because they have less space to slow down.
- Speeding. Watch out for trucks that aren’t obeying the speed limit. The driver will have reduced control of the rig. A driver that’s speeding may be more focused on getting to their destination as quickly as possible than the safety of themselves and others on the road.
- Horn Honking. An aggressive truck driver who’s laying on their horn too much is likely focused more on their anger than driving safely.
When you notice a dangerous truck driver, do not try to slow them down by getting in front of them or signaling for them to slow down. This will also decrease your attention on the road, and it could incite road rage within the driver. If you’re able to let the semi-trailer pass, allow it to pass and get far ahead of you. In some situations, you may be stuck side by side. Consider pulling off at the next exit and letting the trucker get ahead of you. You can also contact the police if you see speeding, swerving, or exhibiting other behaviors that you believe could cause an accident.
While having a license plate can help, don’t try to closely follow to report it. When talking to the operator, you can say the road you’re on and any details you can remember about the truck. The police will act accordingly, and your actions could prevent the driver from causing an accident and harming others.
Taking safety precautions can decrease your chances of being involved in an accident, but sometimes negligence can still result in a truck collision.
What Are the Leading Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents?
If you were not at fault for your accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean the truck driver was automatically responsible for the action. They can act negligently, but sometimes there are other accident causes beyond the driver’s control. Your Philadelphia truck accident lawyer will be familiar with the common causes of accidents. These causes include:
- Driver Error. An inexperienced driver could potentially put others at risk. They may not know how to navigate a big rig and give themselves enough time to slow down or stop. If a driver is driving aggressively by speeding or tailgating, they’re increasing their chances of causing an accident because they can’t stop or turn quickly.
- Distracted Driving. Trying to use a cell phone, looking at a navigation system, or eating and drinking all make the driver have less control of the vehicle.
- Exhaustion. Driver often have to travel long distances to get their cargo to its destination. This could mean days of multiple hours of driving. If the driver isn’t well-rested, they’re not going to be alert behind the wheel. This can reduce their control of staying in their lane, maintaining speed, or even staying awake.
- Cargo Weight. About 53 crashes occurred in 2018 because a trailer wasn’t secure, or it was overloaded. A yruck can’t safely haul cargo when it’s over its carrying capacity.
- Cargo Distribution. The cargo also has to be distributed evenly so one part of the trailer isn’t carrying more weight than the other. This can cause the trailer to shift or put too much stress on the support and break parts of the trailer.
- Defective Truck Issues. Crashes can occur when the parts of the semi aren’t made well, or the truck company doesn’t check their vehicles to make sure they’re running properly. There were 102 crashes in 2017 due to tire or wheel-related issues and 70 were brake-related. The manufacturing company or the trucking company could be liable for negligence in this type of situation.
- Inclement Weather. Ice, snow, and heavy rain in and around Philadelphia can make the roads slippery and less visible, making it difficult for drivers to stay in control of their vehicles. Drivers need to be aware of how to drive their vehicle in any weather. If they don’t make the right adjustments, they could cause an accident.
Common Injuries Resulting from Tractor-Trailer Crashes
When you’ve been in an accident, you may be dealing with injuries that will take weeks or months to heal. In some cases, the injuries from a collision have the potential to be catastrophic and cause permanent damage. While these injuries will heal to a point, there isn’t always a full recovery. They can also mean a future of physical therapy and other forms of treatment.
A truck collision may cause:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Neck Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Loss of Limbs
- Broken Bones
- Internal Organ Damage
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Many of the injuries above need immediate medical treatment. You may need emergency transportation to the hospital where you’ll get the care you need. Unfortunately, serious injuries will also need intense treatment. Your medical expenses may start to add up just from the care required from the initial accident to help you get into a stable condition, but you’re also looking at the medical care you’ll need to continue to treat the injuries.
In addition to the physical harm, there’s also the psychological trauma of a truck collision. It’s normal to feel shaken after an accident, but these feelings do go away. If you’re dwelling on the incident, can’t stop replaying the moment in your head, or are having issues with sleeping, your mental health may be suffering as well. Therapy and other forms of counseling can be expensive. When you’re looking at the treatment you need, you may feel like you have to choose between treating your physical injuries and mental trauma.
No one should have to feel like they need to choose the injury they’re treating. When a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer from Shrager & Sachs is representing you, we’ll make sure to seek compensation that covers all the damages of the accident. You’ll be able to get the treatment you need so you can recover. We’ll also look to cover the costs of future care. If you’re going to need ongoing care, assistive medical equipment, surgeries, or medication, we’ll also factor this into your compensation.
Sometimes, these collisions can result in more than injury. When a loved one is lost unexpectedly in a truck accident and you believe negligence was the cause of the crash, the grief can be unbearable. But you can seek justice for your loved one with a wrongful death claim. Shrager & Sachs will make sure your loved one’s rights are represented.
Federal Trucking Regulations
Trucking companies need to make sure their vehicles meet federal regulations. In order to reduce and prevent serious accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes the rules and regulations trucking companies and their drivers must abide by. Failing to adhere to these regulations is a serious offense and extremely dangerous. Our commercial truck accident lawyers are well aware of federal regulations and will discover if your collision was caused by a breach of these regulations.
When these laws are broken, lives are put at risk. If you’ve been in a truck accident, you may be eligible for compensation to aid with your recovery. In order to file a claim, you’ll need to understand why your accident happened and what regulation the negligent party violated.
Understanding Federal Trucking Regulations
The FMCSA is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). This government entity provides guidelines for how trucking companies are supposed to run their businesses and gives drivers rules to follow while working. These regulations are in place for the benefit of all travelers on the road.
There are specific regulations established for the following areas: trucking companies, truck drivers, drug and alcohol testing, hazardous materials, hours of service, the shipping of household goods, USDOT numbers, vehicle maintenance, and vehicle markings.
Let’s take a look at the regulations that see the most violations:
Drug and Alcohol Testing
Drivers are not allowed to operate their vehicles within four hours of consuming alcohol, or while having a blood alcohol content level of 0.04 percent or higher. They are not allowed to refuse an alcohol test within eight hours of an accident. Drug and alcohol screenings are required for all truckers and are the responsibility of the employer. These screenings can include random testing, post-accident testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and returning-to-duty testing.
Trucking companies are not allowed to employ drivers who have poor driving records, a history of alcohol use behind the wheel, or other problems that may make them unsafe while operating a tractor-trailer. All employees should receive proper training to operate large vehicles, they must have the right insurance and driver’s license, and they must be deemed medically fit.
Hours of Services
Fatigued driving is a serious problem and risk among semi-truck drivers. People need to cease driving for sleep, food, bathroom breaks, and to avoid distracted driving issues. The FMSCA regulates drivers’ hours spent on the road. A driver must stop for 30 minutes every eight hours, and they must take a ten-hour break after driving for 14 hours. They cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period. Violating these regulations comes with the risk of falling asleep while driving.
Large trucks are not allowed to weigh more than 80,000 pounds for interstate travel. This includes the weight of whatever goods they’re carrying. FMSCA also regulates how cargo can be loaded and secured. If the vehicle is not loaded properly or weighs too much, the driver may have a difficult time controlling or stopping the vehicle.
Frequent inspections and repairs are required for any commercial vehicle that travels on the road. Lights, brakes, tires, and other internal systems should be checked and monitored regularly. Drivers also need to be able to recognize the signs of truck failure and know what to do to avoid a serious accident.
Lost Wages and Returning to Work
As you’re recovering, you’re likely thinking about how soon it will be before you can resume working again. This may be spurred by missing days of pay because you’re unable to work. Our Philadelphia truck accident lawyers will seek compensation for the wages you’ve lost as a result of the accident. It’s also important for you to not return to work too early, as this could have negative consequences.
When you return to work too early, your plan may be to work through the pain. This is not a safe plan as pain means something is wrong. Working through an injury may result in you reinjuring yourself or making it worse. If this happens, you may need to stop working and start the recovery process all over again. You may need to miss more work than you would have originally, and you may not be able to receive compensation for those injuries as your actions caused them. Having to pay for your medical care out of pocket may create financially difficult situations.
The best way to take care of yourself is to listen to your doctor’s treatment plan and speak to them about when you can return to work. You’ll likely have follow-up appointments so your doctor can evaluate your recovery progress. When they give you the approval to return to work, still remain alert for any pain or difficulty you’re having. If you feel like you’re unable to work, immediately inform your boss and make another appointment.
There’s also a possibility you will return to work but find that you’re unable to do your particular tasks. However, you may be able to work in a position with different tasks that don’t exacerbate your injuries. Your boss may be able to adjust your responsibilities so you are still working but not putting yourself at risk for more injury.
A Philadelphia truck accident attorney from Shrager & Sachs will help you recover the losses of your accident. We understand how difficult it can be to not be able to work.
How a Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
The lawyers at Shrager & Sachs are experienced in 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 water tank truck. We’re prepared to go above and beyond to get you the compensation you deserve.
When we’re investigating your case, we’ll asses all the evidence to find out who the negligent party was. A negligent driver could have been ignoring signs of fatigue or their vehicle could have been overloaded. No matter the case, we’re prepared to fight for you to get justice. While going up against a trucking company can be intimidating, we won’t let your pain and suffering be ignored.
Call us today for a free consultation on your claim. One of our lawyers will go over the facts of your case and explain your legal options. You can rest assured your representation will be in your corner and focused on protecting your rights. We’ll seek compensation so you can heal physically, emotionally, and financially. Let us help you on your legal journey.