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 statistics about truck 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 truck driver, the trucking company, a truck 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 truck crashes were fatal.
- 5.5% percent of truck crashes caused injuries.
Unique Dangers of Commercial Trucks
Handling a truck is much different from a car. Drivers need to be comfortable in an 18-wheeler that can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. With its size and weight, drivers have to be aware of the dangers a truck 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 truck if they don’t plan ahead and give the vehicle time and space to slow down.
Truck 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 truck. 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 truck driver also has a blind spot of up to 30 feet in the back of the truck. Truck 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 truck 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 truck 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 truck 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 truck can shear off part of the car, putting the driver and other vehicle occupants in danger of severe or fatal injuries.
Truckers 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.
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-truck 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 truck driver can alert you to put space between you and the truck 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 truck.
- 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 truck driver. If you’re able to let the truck 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 the trucker is 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 the truck 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 truck driver from causing an accident and harming others.
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.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver Error. An inexperienced trucker 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 trucker 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. Truckers 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 truck 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 truck drivers to stay in control of their vehicles. Truck 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.
Trucking companies need to make sure their vehicles meet federal regulations. These regulations are meant to keep drivers and trucks safe and to help them prevent accidents. Failing to adhere to these regulations is a serious offense and extremely dangerous. Our commercial truck accident lawyers are well aware of trucking regulations and will discover if your collision was caused by a breach of these regulations.
Common Injuries Resulting from Truck 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 truck accident 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.
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 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.
How a Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Our truck accident 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 truck driver could have been ignoring signs of fatigue or their truck 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. A Philadelphia truck accident lawyer 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.