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May 15, 2018

Commercial Vehicles Can Cause Accidents on Residential Streets

Truck Accident Lawyer PA

When you think of commercial vehicles, you may think primarily of the large semi-trucks and tractor-trailers traversing our nation’s highways. However, many more types of vehicles fall into the “commercial” category. Many of these commercial vehicles do not regularly travel long distances but instead, operate locally right in our own neighborhoods. Examples of commercial vehicles that may crash and cause injuries in residential areas of Philadelphia include:

Buses

Nearly 200 million people used SEPTA transportation services in Philly in 2017, including city buses. The bus system is a comprehensive network of routes, vehicles, and drivers who help residents and visitors get around the city. In addition, schools across Philly utilize buses to transport students to and from school on a daily basis, as well as to field trips and sporting events. For this reason, buses can be seen on a regular basis in almost every neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Buses are large, heavy vehicles that are difficult to maneuver. Just like truck drivers, bus drivers must have special licenses and training, as well as comply with additional regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Because of their massive size and weight, buses can cause serious accidents that put many people at risk, including bus drivers, bus passengers, other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Bus accidents may be the fault of the bus driver, a bus company, a bus manufacturer, another driver, and other parties. Determining who was at fault in a bus accident is essential to recovering compensation for injuries suffered in a crash.

Trash Trucks

We rely on giant garbage trucks to come through our neighborhoods and collect our trash and recycling on a regular basis. This modern convenience also comes with the risks of trash truck accidents. Trash trucks are hulking vehicles that are also quite difficult to maneuver. Routes take trash truck drivers around sharp turns and down narrow streets, often with parked cars on one or both sides. If these routes were not difficult enough as it is, trash drivers must also be aware of children – who are often enthralled with trash trucks – running into the street.

If a trash truck hits a moving car, parked car, or a pedestrian, serious damage and injuries may occur. In Philadelphia, sanitation is a division of the local government, though sometimes trash collectors may also be contractors hired from private companies. If you were involved in an accident with a trash truck, you may be able to hold the city liable, or the private company, depending on the entity operating the trash service. Knowing who to hold liable for a trash truck accident can be a complicated matter and you should have the assistance of a knowledgeable injury attorney as soon as possible.

Delivery Trucks

Ordering items from the comfort of our own homes is increasingly popular in Philadelphia. Amazon Prime allows you to order almost anything with one touch of a button and grocery delivery services allow you to avoid parking lots and waiting in line for the things you need. All of these services require the use of delivery trucks, which are also considered commercial vehicles.

Unlike tractor-trailers that are utilized by many corporations, delivery trucks are often box trucks, not articulated vehicles. Instead, the trailer is connected to the cab of the truck, which makes turning the vehicle challenging in many cases and can create significant blind spots. Because these trucks deliver goods and packages to many homes and small businesses, delivery box trucks appear regularly in residential neighborhoods and always pose the risk of an accident.

When a delivery driver causes a crash on the job, often the driver’s employer may also be held liable for the actions of the employee. Dealing with commercial insurance companies can be complicated so you need the right attorney to handle negotiations with the insurance company and filing suit if necessary.

Fire Trucks

Fire trucks are enormous vehicles that carry highly-specialized equipment in response to fires and other various emergencies. While not necessarily considered a commercial vehicle, firefighters nonetheless must obtain a commercial license to drive one in Pennsylvania. When a fire truck is deployed, time is often of the essence, and it is not uncommon to see and hear fire trucks with flashing lights and screaming sirens barreling down busy streets as other vehicles pull to the right (or wherever they can) to get out of the way.

While the law gives a fire truck responding to an emergency the right of way, this does not mean that the driver is legally entitled to drive recklessly and put others at an unreasonable risk of harm. For this reason, anyone injured in a fire truck accident that occurred while the vehicle was responding to an emergency should have the facts of their accident reviewed by an attorney.

Furthermore, fire truck drivers who are not responding to an emergency are required to follow the rules of the road just like everybody else. If you are injured in an accident caused by a fire truck driver who was not responding to an emergency and ran a stop sign, was speeding, failed to signal a lane change, or otherwise failed to obey the traffic laws, there is a good chance that you will be able to recover compensation for your injuries.

Commercial vehicles of all types can be involved in collisions that result in life-changing injuries. These injuries can affect your job, finances, and well-being, with losses that mount quickly. Your best options for obtaining compensation depend on the specific circumstances of your accident. This analysis can be complicated when a commercial vehicle is involved, so you should have a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in commercial vehicle accidents evaluate your situation.

Discuss Your Injuries with a Philadelphia Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney Today

Commercial vehicles have the potential to cause serious injuries in any environment – whether you are on a highway or a residential street. These accidents happen when you least expect them and can completely disrupt your life and the lives of your family members. Dealing with your injuries, medical treatment, and recovery is stressful enough, and the last thing you should have to worry about is how to negotiate with a commercial insurance company or navigate filing litigation to recover compensation for your injuries.

At The Levin Firm, we handle every aspect of your legal claim so you can trust your rights are being properly protected, while you focus on your physical recovery. If you would like to discuss your situation for free, please call 215-825-5183 or contact us online to talk to an experienced Philly commercial vehicle accident lawyer.

April 12, 2018

Distracted Truck Drivers Can Cause Permanent Injuries

Truck Accident Attorneys PA

Trucks swarm our highways and byways for one very important reason – increasing consumer demand. We want things, and trucks deliver them. Meanwhile, truck accidents are some of the most deadly and violent accidents on our roads. Because of their massive size, weight, and limited maneuverability, semi trucks are particularly dangerous when it comes to accident risks. If a trucker makes even a minor miscalculation or driving error, it can be very difficult to correct and lead to a lethal accident.

This is why safely operating a tractor-trailer requires experience and professional driving skills. The people who drive these behemoths are professionals, held to more stringent standards and restrictions than ordinary drivers. If a trucker chooses to drive while distracted from the considerable task of handing a semi task safely and causes an accident, the consequences are all too often lethal.

Distracted Driving: What Is It?

If you drive, you may have allowed your eyes to wander from the road a time or two. Distractions can vary from quite minor, such as turning up the heat or changing the radio station, to incredibly dangerous, such as reading and texting messages on your smartphone.

Distracted driving has become such a significant safety hazard that the U.S. government has dedicated a website to the issue, distraction.gov. The site clarifies that distracted driving is categorized as any driving whereby the driver’s attention is focused on anything other than safe driving. Types of distractions fall in three categories:

  • Visual distractions
  • Manual distractions
  • Cognitive distractions

Smartphone usage is particularly dangerous because it comprises all three types of distraction. For example, texting means the driver is looking away from the road at a cell phone (visual distraction), using at least one hand to navigate screens and enter text (manual distraction), and thinking about that task instead of driving (cognitive distraction). Other types of distracted driving include:

  • Eating and drinking behind the wheel
  • Conversing with passengers
  • Grooming in the rearview mirror
  • Using a navigational device
  • Adjusting console controls, including the radio and the heating system
  • Reading maps (or anything else)
  • Taking and/or making calls
  • Watching a television screen

Distracted Truckers

Distracted drivers are dangerous, no matter what kind of vehicle they drive. But distracted truck drivers are even more dangerous. Trucks are massive, and truckers take on a massive responsibility when they drive them. A fully loaded big rig can tip the scales at 80,000 pounds. When a vehicle of this size crashes with a much smaller car, it places all the occupants of that car in grave danger.

Truckers may be even more likely to engage in distractions while driving to avoid lost time on the road and prevent boredom. Truckers may use at least one ordinary distraction at any given time simply out of habit—such as listening to the radio or nearby trucker radio conversations—and may often engage in several distractions at once, such as using a mapping system while also eating lunch. These types of habits can make distracted truckers particularly dangerous.

Demands of the Job

In addition, truckers often drive under strict deadlines that push them to multi-task while driving. They may be tempted to complete administerial and organizational tasks while behind the wheel just to stay on schedule. These additional distractions include:

  • Maintaining a mandatory trucking log
  • Reading a map or trucking industry paperwork
  • Making calculations related to the trip
  • Using a dispatch device
  • Arranging overnight lodging and coordinating break stops

While these are all tasks necessary to the job, truck drivers who perform them behind the wheel are not paying full attention to the task of driving a semi truck in a safe manner.

Truckers Who Text

When a trucker texts – or otherwise engages with a smartphone – that trucker engages his or her hands, vision, and thoughts on the phone rather than on the critical task of driving safely. Truckers who text are, in fact, so dangerous that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits truckers from texting behind the wheel.

The FMCSA puts emphasis on this prohibition by going so far as to classify texting within this regulation as “manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device. This includes, but is not limited to, short message services, e-mailing, instant messaging, or pressing more than a single button to start or end a voice communication using a mobile phone.” Put more simply, the FMCSA demands that truckers put their smartphones away—and leave them put away—when they drive.

Legal Consequences

The FMCSA enforces those texting regulations with hefty fines up to $2,750 along with potential revocation of a driver’s commercial trucking license. Because driving is a trucker’s livelihood, these consequences are significant. The ban on texting by the FMCSA is supported by research that finds that truckers who text are over 23 times more likely to cause an accident. The research also finds that drivers who text are essentially driving blind for an average of almost five seconds at a time. Five seconds is more critical for truckers than drivers of other vehicles, because trucks require a much greater distance—and more time—to reach a safe stop. In addition, a trucker who rear-ends a car is much more likely to plow that car forward into another vehicle, causing a multi-car accident with cars crushed between the truck and other vehicles in front. That factor makes texting while trucking even more lethal.

Compensation for Devastating Injuries

Truck accidents, if not deadly, often leave victims with devastating permanent injuries. Injuries commonly associated with these accidents include debilitating brain injuries and paralyzing spinal cord injuries. The physical, emotional, and future effects make quantifying a dollar amount to compensate for these injuries extremely difficult. While no amount of financial compensation can ever return you to your pre-accident self, just compensation can help you better navigate the path toward recovery.

If a Distracted Trucker Has Left You Injured, Consult with a Skilled Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you or someone you care about has been injured by a distracted trucker, you need an attorney with experience in trucking accident cases who can protect your rights and help ensure just recovery for your injuries. At The Levin Firm in Philadelphia, our dedicated legal team has the experience, skill, and compassion to fight for your legal rights, including bring suit against the trucking company if necessary, while you focus on your recovery. We are here to help. Please contact or call us at 215-825-5183 today.

March 29, 2018

Who Is Responsible for a Truck Jackknife?

Truck Accident Lawyer in PA

The massive size and heft of semi-trucks make them especially dangerous when theyre involved in accidents on our highways and byways. In fact, big rigs are responsible for some of the deadliest motor-vehicle accidents. These behemoths of our roadways seem to multiply right in front our eyes, all in response to our ever-increasing consumer demands. With more semis come more accidents, and these include jackknife accidents, which truck driver error can often cause.

Truck Accidents: The Stats

Tractor-trailer accidents are frequently deadly. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found several significant statistics related to commercial truck crashes:

  • In 2015, nearly 4,000 truck-accident fatalities took place in the United States
  • The drivers and passengers who werent in the semi-trucks were far more likely to die in truck accidents than drivers or passengers in the semi-trucks
  • Truck accident fatalities rose by 22 percent in the seven years from 2009 to 2015
  • More than 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015 involved big rigs

These sobering statistics serve to highlight the dangers associated with commercial truck accidents. When you get behind the wheel of your car, remember that you share the road with semi-trucks and always make safety your top priority.

If a truck jackknife accident injured you, consult an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Your rights and your rightful compensation are far too important to leave to chance. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia is committed to helping truck-accident victims like you get the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you.

Jackknife Accidents

A moveable joint connects a semi-trucks cab and trailer, which is why people call them articulated vehicles. This joint gives these massive vehicles increased maneuverability, but it also leaves semis more vulnerable to specific kinds of accidents that include jackknifes.

When a semi jackknifes, its trailer folds back in on its own cab in a terrifying motion that resembles the action of a jackknife closing. Several variables may cause a tractor-trailer to jackknife (or contribute to its jackknifing)and many of them are closely associated with truck driver negligence or error:

  • When a truck driver brakes improperly in relation to the driving conditions, including bad weather
  • When a truck driver speeds or exceeds the posted speed limit
  • When a truck driver anything other than driving safely claims a driver’s attention
  • When a truck driver takes curves or turns too quickly
  • When a truck driver hauls improperly or poorly loaded cargo

As professional drivers, the law holds truck drivers to more stringent safety standards than the rest of us. Any one of the factors listed above can lead to a dangerous jackknife accident, and each of them is directly attributable to truck driver negligence—although the trucker, the trucking company, the loading crew, or all three may bear or share the responsibility for a poorly or improperly loaded trailer.

Contributing Factors

Lets take a closer look at the most closely connected factors in jackknife accidents:

  • Speeding. Every trucker shoulders an immense responsibility when getting behind the wheel due to the massive size of the vehicle. When a truck driver makes the dangerous decision to exceed the posted speed limit or to exceed the safe speed as dictated by road conditions and visibility, that trucker engages in dangerous driving. With increased speed comes the decreased ability to stop a semi in a driving emergency. The greater the speed that the semi travels at, the longer its stopping distance. Speed is closely associated with jackknife accidents.
  • Taking curves. While mild curves don’t usually present problems, steep curves demand every drivers utmost attention and care. Pennsylvania law holds truck drivers to strict accountability in such matters. With steeper curves come an increased risk that the truck will jackknife. As professional drivers, truck drivers know this safety hazard, and they should always attend to steep curves with the utmost caution.
  • Driving in inclement weather. Bad weather often means slippery roads and low visibility, and when it comes to 18-wheelers, any decrease in traction with the roadway can lead to dangerous accidents, including jackknifing.

Semis, because of their massive sizes and articulations, are more likely to jackknife when the road is even slightly slippery. Truck drivers face responsibility for accommodating poor driving conditions such as inclement weather.

Semis represent a significant threat on our roadways, and as such their drivers must adhere to strict safety practicesor endanger everyone with whom they share the road.

Trucking While Distracted

Distracted driving has become so prevalent and plays such a role in truck accidents, including jackknife accidents, that it necessitates further attention. The U.S. government has identified distracted driving as such a significant danger that it devotes a website to the topic. This site identifies distracted driving as any driving in which the drivers attention focuses on anything other than the vital task at handsafe driving. The website divides distractions into three categories:

  • Visual distractions
  • Manual distractions
  • Cognitive distractions

When it comes to distractions, smartphone usagebecause it engages all three categorieshits a home run. When truck drivers engage in distracted driving, they are far more likely to jackknife their massive vehicles.

If a Truck Jackknife Accident Injured You, Consult an Experienced Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck jackknife accidents are terrifying and extremely dangerous. If a truck jackknife accident injured you, you know all of the difficulties your face. Hire a skilled truck accident attorney to help deal with the legal issues so you can focus on physical and psychological healing. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia has the experience and commitment to aggressively advocate for your claims best possible resolution. Were here to help, so please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.

March 23, 2018

Hours of Service Violations Can Lead to Severely Fatigued Truckers

Truck Accident Lawyers PA

Truck accidents are among the deadliest and most devastating on our roads. You might imagine that professional truck drivers are less likely to engage in risky behavior, but truck drivers often experience extremely tight schedules that directly affect their livelihoods. This can push some truckers to drive outside the parameters set by laws that restrict hours of service. These truckers are dangerous truckers. But the complicated laws that govern hours of service, and the careful investigations needed to prove violations, call for experienced legal counsel. If a fatiguedand thus negligenttrucker injured you in the Philadelphia area, contact The Levin Firm today.

Hours of Service

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets strict hours of service (HOS) regulations for truckers. These HOS regulations incorporate hefty fines and penalties for truckers who fail to abide by them.

If you or someone you love was injuredor if someone you love diedin a truck accident, you know exactly how harrowing that feels, and you need experienced legal counsel to help you work through it. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia will aggressively advocate for your rights and for your rightful compensation.

The FMCSAs hours of service regulations limit truckers driving to 14 hours within any period of duty. Truckers may only engage in 11 hours of uninterrupted drivingwhich must incorporate a 30-minute break for every eight hours of driving time. This 14-hour maximum must include the time expended on all driving breaks and gas stops. (Drivers cannot subtract the time spent on these driving breaks from the total allotment of 14 hours of driving time.)

Additional regulations relate to a drivers weekly HOS:

  • A trucker many not drive more than 60 hours in any one week, and the trucker can restart the allowed 60 hours only after spending at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • A trucker may not drive more that 70 hours in eight days, and the trucker can restart the allowed 70 hours only after spending 34 consecutive hours off duty. 
  • Truckers who use the sleeper berth in their trucks must spend at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper birth and another two consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth or off duty (or any combination of these two).
  • All truckers must track their driving and resting hours in a daily log book (or in an Electronic On-Board RecorderEOBR). This log must include the dates, times, and locations of drivingalong with all status-of-duty changes and total miles driven on each driving leg.

When drivers deviate from these important HOS restrictions, they can face harsh penalties and fines. This also applies to the trucking companies themselves. In fact, truckers or trucking companies that knowingly and willfully commit violations may face federal criminal penalties.

Rules and Their Exceptions

Exceptions to the HOS rules may alter a truckers legal driving hours:

  • In inclement weather (which naturally slows a trucker down), the trucker may exceed the 11-hour driving limit by a maximum of two hours.
  • Truckers who only drive within a 100-mile radius of the location where they report for duty arent required to keep driving logs.
  • Truckers for retail stores who drive less than a radius of 100 air miles can surpass their daily driving-hour restrictions between the dates of December 10 and December 25to help keep up with the increased retail demands of the holiday season. (Note that truck accidents increase around the holidays.)

Fatigued Truckers Are Dangerous Truckers

Truckers face strict HOS regulations for good reason: Fatigued truck drivers are dangerous truck drivers. Due to their massive size, big rigs are the most dangerous vehicles on our roadways. The rigors of the trucking industry, however, can push some truck drivers to make the incredibly unsafe decision to drive with too little rest. Tired truckers face the following functional impairments:

  • Increased reaction time
  • Decreased attention span
  • Decreased alertness
  • Lapses in safe decision making

When drowsy truckers get behind the wheel, they are far more likely to cause serious accidents and they endanger everyone with whom they share the road.

Truck Accidents: The Sobering Statistics

More semis travel our roads because we need ever-more semis to fulfill our growing consumer demands. As the trucking industry rushes to keep pace, trucking companies sometimes bypass the regulations to which theyre supposed to abide. These lapses can cause and exacerbate trucking accidents. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shares some sobering statistics related to these accidents:

  • In 2015, almost 4,000 people died in truck accidents in the United States
  • In 2015, the drivers and passengers in the vehicles that werent in the commercial trucks accounted for 97 percent of truck-accident fatalities
  • In the seven years between 2009 and 2015, truck accident fatalities increased by 22 percent
  • Of all the traffic fatalities in 2015, 11 percent involved semi-trucks

These statistics represent an important reminder that we share the road with massive, dangerous commercial trucks and that, as such, we should always proceed with caution.

Your Truck Accident Claim

Truck accidents are extremely dangerous, and the federal government, therefore, holds truckers to strict hour-of-service rules and regulations. If a driver injures you in an accident, however, you may find proof of fatigue hard to uncover. Some truckers, for example, arent above falsifying their duty logs. Furthermore, trucking companies and their insurance carriers are in the business of turning a profit, which includes fighting not to pay out on accident claims. If you were injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident attorney to help overcome these obstacles.

If You Are Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult a Skilled Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney

Truck accidents are always harrowing. If a fatigued trucker injured you or your loved one, consult an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as you can. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia is committed to fighting for your just compensation, and we have the experience and compassion to help you. Please contact or call us at (215) 825-5183 today.

February 15, 2018

Trucks Can Have Defective Brakes

Trucks Can Have Defective Brakes

 

Trucks are the massive machines with which we share our roads, and as such, they pose a serious threat when it comes to traffic accidents. One of the most elemental safety factors of any vehicle is its braking system, and this is even truer of the commercial trucks that travel our national highways. In response to this critical safety issue, a recent safety event took a closer look.

Brake Safety Day

As part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Day on September 7, 2017, enforcement personnel throughout the United States and Canada conducted brake inspections on thousands of commercial vehicles—14 percent of which were pulled from service due specifically to violations that related to their braking systems. Brake Safety Day’s intention is to perform roadside inspections of commercial trucks to aid in the better identification of and the more effective removal of those trucks that are in violation of critical brake regulations and that, therefore, endanger others with whom they share the road. When a semi-truck’s brakes aren’t in safe working condition, it can cause a serious accident or can exacerbate any ensuing accident. This is a critical safety issue because truck accidents are among our roadways’ deadliest accidents.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you know just how harrowing that is and you’re likely to be unsure about what to do next and about where to turn for support. The experienced legal team at The Levin Firm is here to help. Our dedicated truck accident attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and commitment to fight for your rights and for your rightful compensation.

The Safety Data

Brake Safety Day elicited helpful data related to truck safety:

  • More than 6,000 trucks were inspected in the United States;
  • Fourteen percent of these trucks were pulled from service for brake-related safety violations; and
  • Twenty Two percent of these trucks were pulled from service for safety violations of any kind.

In other words, Brake Safety Day implemented a safety event that utilized a large, inclusive sample of commercial trucks on our roadways and, in so doing, determined that a significant portion of these trucks were in violation of brake-related safety regulations and shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place.

Antilock Braking Systems

The safety event also calculated for how well antilock braking systems (ABS) were functioning in the commercial trucks that were inspected. ABS help truckers to stop their massive vehicles in the shortest possible driving distance under a variety of driving conditions and also help drivers maintain control of their steering in those situations where a truck’s tires begin to slip. In other words, antilock braking systems are critical to maintaining safely functioning big rigs on our roads.

If a semi’s ABS malfunction light wasn’t working or if the malfunction light remained on (in indication of a problem with the ABS), it was registered as an ABS violation in the study. The findings revealed that a significant percentage of those commercial trucks that are required to have well-functioning antilock braking systems were in violation of that requirement.

Brake-Related Violations

The president of the CVSA relays that “brake-related violations are the largest percentage of all out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections.” Further, he shares that Brake Safety Day allows the CVSA the opportunity to improve the brake safety of trucks on our nations highways and byways. In this effort, the CVSA works to decrease the number of accidents caused by unsafe braking systems through the implementation of roadside inspections and via improved education related to brake safety for truckers, trucking companies, and truck mechanics.

Improving Safety on Our Roads

Properly working braking systems are elemental to the safe operation of commercial trucks. When these systems are installed improperly or are poorly maintained, it can reduce the truck’s ability to brake effectively and can increase its stopping distance—both of which can greatly contribute to serious truck accidents. Properly functioning antilock brakes—in combination with safely maintained braking systemshelp to create a rigorous platform in support of the truck’s stability control and allow for further functional enhancements in other safety-related systems.

Trucks and Safety

Because of their extreme size, semi-trucks experience reduced maneuverability and are inherently dangerous. There are however methods for forging a safer trucking industry that are instrumental to helping to keep our roads safe. One of the most critical means of accomplishing this is through effective brake-maintenance programs that are implemented by the trucking companies themselves. Unsafe braking systems play a major role in dangerous commercial-truck accidents, and as such, it is critical that they be adequately monitored and maintained.

Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are some of the deadliest accidents on our roads, and they often lead to extensive physical, psychological, and financial devastation. In fact, it’s difficult to overstate the negative effects evinced by truck accidents. There are, however, some sobering statistics related to these terrifying accidents that can help clarify the safety issue they pose:

  • Those occupants of the vehicle that’s not the truck in the truck accident are far more likely to become traffic fatalities; in 2015, 97 percent of truck-accident fatalities were either occupant of the other vehicle or pedestrians.
  • From 2009 to 2015, truck-accident fatalities rose by 22 percent.
  • Eleven percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015 involved an 18-wheeler.

These numbers are so significant that they should serve as an important reminder that – because you share the road with commercial trucks – it is always in your best interest to proceed with caution.

If You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult with a Skilled Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a truck accident, you are no doubt overwhelmed by its enormous impact. Help, however, is available. The dedicated truck accident attorneys at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia understand the difficulty you’re going through and are committed to aggressively advocating for your just compensation. Our experienced legal team is here to help, so please contact or call us at 215-825-5183 today.

February 14, 2018

What are CMV Conspicuity Requirements?

 

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What are CMV conspicuity requirements, you ask. Let’s break that question down a little bit. A CMV is a commercial motor vehicle and conspicuity requirements refer to federal requirements that CMVs incorporate retroreflective treatments or reflex reflectors, such as reflective tape. That’s better. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires CMVs to incorporate these safety treatments on their trailers and the on the rear of their truck tractors to help prevent motorists from crashing into a tractor’s sides or rear when traveling by dark of night or in other situations where visibility is reduced and to help prevent motorists from rear-ending a truck tractor (absent its trailer) under similar circumstances.

Reflective Tape

Reflective materials, and thus reflective tape (or retroreflective tape) and other conspicuity treatments, are made to enable objects (such as CMVs) to be more visible at night or in other low-visibility situations. In fact, the NHTSA reports that reflective tape can help reduce dangerous impact accidents with truck trailers by 29 percent, and as such, the agency mandates that all CMVs be outfitted with an appropriate form of this safety mechanism.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you understand just how harrowing that is. At The Levin Firm in Philadelphia, our skilled truck accident attorneys have the compassion, experience, and dedication to fight your just compensation, and we’re here to help.

Length and Width Requirements

Reflective tape comes in a variety of sizes and colors, but the NHTSA recommends that CMVs incorporate reflective tape that alternates between red and white sections, and that the reflective tape should be cut into pieces that measure no less than six inches long and no greater than 18 inches long. A cut measurement of reflective tape, however, should be trimmed if its length will cause it to be obstructive. Further, the tape employed on CMVs should be either 2 inches (DOT-C2), 3 inches (DOT-C3), or 4 inches (DOT-C4) in width.

Getting It Right

Randomly plastering a tractor and trailer with reflective tape doesn’t meet the safety requirements laid out by the NHTSA. Instead, a truck’s trailer should have reflective tape in those locations where it is most effective at increasing the CMV’s visibility, which includes the trailer’s sides, the trailer’s lower-rear section, the trailer’s upper-rear section, and the tractor’s rear section.

The NHTSA gets more specific on the matter:

  • The sides of the trailer should have reflective tape positioned as horizontally as feasible in sections that begin and end as close to the trailer’s front and rear as practicable. While the tape should be in sections that are spaced evenly along the trailerrather than in one continuous strip—the overall length of the tape should be approximately half the length of the trailer. Finally, the centerline of the tape’s width should be between 15 and 60 inches above the roadway (when the tractor is empty)—or as close to this distance as possible.
  • The lower-rear section of the trailer should follow the same NHTSA guidelines except that the entire lower-rear section should be covered by one continuous piece of red and white reflective tape.
  • The requirements for the upper-rear section of the trailer are slightly different. For this segment of the trailer, the reflective tape should be all white (instead of incorporating the alternating red and white color scheme) and should be comprised of two pairs of white tape that form an inverted L shape at both upper corners (as close to the edges as possible).
  • The tractor’s rear section should have red and white reflective tape placed as close as possible to the edges of its mud flaps (or their support brackets) or on the tractor’s rear fenders. Further, the tape should be positioned on the cab’s upper contours (much as they should be on the upper-rear section of the trailer).

Proper Maintenance

Once the reflective tape is properly placed, it is only as effective as it is visible to motorists with whom the truck shares the road. Reflective tape can’t adequately catch the light and reflect it when it’s covered with mud, dirt, ice, or snow, and as such, must be kept clean to be effective.

Tractor-trailers are massive vehicles that, due to their immense size, experience diminished maneuverability as they barrel down our highways and byways. In other words, they are extremely dangerous vehicles. In fact, commercial truck accidents are some of the deadliest experienced on our roads.

What Not to Do

After being injured in a truck accident isn’t necessarily a great time to be making important decisions related to any ensuing legal claim. There are, however, some things to keep in mind that you probably shouldn’t do in such a situation. You are not required to speak to (or make a statement to) any representative of the trucking company, the insurance company, or the legal counsel that’s involved—nor should you. Allow your experienced Philadelphia truck accident lawyer to do the talking for you. Further, don’t sign away your rights by agreeing to the trucking company’s fair settlement offer without first consulting with an attorney. Again, your attorney will help you decide what’s fair and what isn’t. Finally, although every truck accident is harrowing and you may want to simply move on with your life by forgetting about the entire affair, it’s important to recognize that Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations for truck accident claims and that your rights are too important to leave to chance.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident, Consult with a Skilled Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney Today

Truck accidents are horrifying and often wreak devastating damages. If you or someone you care about has been injured in a truck accident, you understand how difficult coping with the aftermath is, but help is available. At The Levin Firm in Philadelphia, our dedicated truck accident attorneys are committed to aggressively campaigning for your legal rights and for your just compensation. Our experienced legal team is here to help, so please contact or call us at 215-825-5183 today.

December 21, 2017

Hit by a Delivery Driver? You Might Hold the Employer Liable

Truck Accident attorney in pa

When accidents take place between two or more people, the parties can, more often than not, resolve the matters among themselves and their insurance companies. In the event that accident expenses exceed what an insurance company is willing to pay, victims can sue the at-fault drivers to recover further compensation. And accidents involving delivery vehicles may provide victims with additional alternatives for compensation.

When Are Delivery Drivers Liable?

The driver of a delivery vehicle who causes an accident remains liable. However, other parties may also face liability.

Pennsylvania law may permit a car accident victim to bring forth a claim against a delivery driver’s employer under the theory of vicarious liability. To recover compensation under this theory, the victim must demonstrate that the driver acted within the scope of employment at the time of the accident.

An employee acts within the scope of employment whenever meeting the following conditions:

  • The employer hired the employee to perform a specific task
  • Within authorized time and space limits
  • At least in part to serve the employer

Liability may extend to a driver’s employer in the following example:

A delivery driver, delivering to a customer, drives a company vehicle at high speeds, swerving in and out of traffic despite wet weather conditions. The delivery driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes into another vehicle in oncoming traffic, injuring that driver and that car’s passengers.

Here, the driver acts within the scope of employment because the driver is making a delivery on behalf of the employer (and in a company vehicle). The driver’s negligence causes the accident and injures the other vehicle’s passengers. Because of these factors, the injured parties may recover compensation from both the driver and employer.

Victims cannot always hold a delivery driver’s employer liable. For example, if the driver in the above scenario was not making a delivery and was instead making a detour to visit a friend, then the employer may avoid liability—visiting a friend is not within the driver’s scope of employment.

The facts of a case are not always as cut and dry as the above examples. To determine whether you can hold a delivery driver’s employer liable for injuries the driver caused you, seek experienced legal counsel.

Recovering Damages

An automobile accident victim must demonstrate injuries and expenses to recover compensation. Victims must keep detailed records and receipts for all accident-related medical expenses, doctor visits, and repairs. Good record-keeping will help a skilled attorney put together a strong, well-written claim on your behalf.

For What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover Compensation?

In the event of an automobile accident, you can recover damages for:

  • Medical expenses (including current and future medical costs for accident-related injuries, as well as for rehabilitation and physical therapy).
  • Non-monetary losses (particularly pain and suffering).

Lost wages. Injuries may preclude a victim may from returning to work, whether temporarily or permanently, after the accident. The victim may recover compensation for lost wages—based on earning capacity—incurred during the recovery period.

Punitive damages, although awarded to victims, do not compensate victims for their losses— they punish defendants while discouraging others from acting in similar ways.

Automobile accidents can also—sometimes, all too often—involve the loss of life. In fact, statistics indicate that one in 10 fatal highway accidents involve large trucks—which can include some delivery vehicles. When fatal accidents involving large trucks took place, 70 percent of those who died in 2015 occupied passenger vehicles. Family members may recover compensation for loss of companionship because they can no longer enjoy the presence of the deceased.

Extending Punitive Damages to Employers

Punitive damages can extend to an employer. This helps victims because employers tend to have deeper pockets and can, therefore, pay these damages, which can add up to significant sums.

A victim will need to demonstrate specific facts to receive punitive damages. Given the complex arguments required to receive punitive damages, victims should seek experienced legal counsel to help with their claims.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Today

As the victim of an automobile accident, you deserve to recover compensation for your injuries and accident-related expenses. Whenever the driver of a commercial vehicle causes an accident, Pennsylvania law may entitle you to recover damages from both the driver and the driver’s employer. The personal injury attorneys at The Levin Firm have the experience and determination to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or visit our website.

December 20, 2017

Managing an Accident Involving Commercial Trucks

Truck Accident Lawyer in PA

Traffic accidents involving commercial trucks, including tractor-trailer rigs, cause thousands of injuries each year. If you were in a traffic accident in the Philadelphia area that involved a commercial truck, seek professional assistance to deal with the complicated liability issues that will arise. Protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Take advantage of a free consultation. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks Present Complicated Liability Issues

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, crashes involving large trucks in 2014 killed 3,903 persons and injured about 111,000. Almost three-fourths of those killed or injured in those accidents were the occupants of passenger vehicles involved in the crashes.

Unfortunately, statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate after years of decline, accidents involving large trucks and buses started to increase again.

Because of the complicated ownership issues and hiring practices involved in the motor shipping industry, accidents involving tractor-trailers pose interesting liability questions.

Truckers may work under shipping companies’ permits and even company logos, colors, and brands. Relatively few drivers are actual employees of a shipping company, however. They generally work as independent contractors who own their rigs and pay for their own fuel, repairs, and licensing fees. They contract with shipping companies to haul loads but choose the routes and schedules on which they operate. If they don’t want to carry cargo on a motor carrier shipping company’s desired schedules or routes, they decline the contracts and find ones more to their liking.

Complicating things further, the trailers pulled by the tractor-trailers generally are owned by another entity separate from both the shipper and the trucker. The cargo is usually owned by yet another entity. In all likelihood, each these entities have different insurance companies.

Until relatively recently, then, the shipping company—also known as the motor carrier—would argue that because the driver was an independent contractor, the motor carrier did not bear liability for any accident that might arise out of a driver’s negligence or fault. This would force an accident victim to file a claim against a truck driver—usually through the truck driver’s insurance company—and attempt to get compensation that way. The disadvantage of suing an individual, even one with insurance, versus the shipping company, is obvious.

Suing all of the entities involved in shipping the load carried by the truck involved in your accident can yield a larger amount of compensation, but can prove complicated and expensive, and involve complex legal issues.

The Independent Contractor Exception for Motor Carrier Liability No Longer Applies

Fortunately, at least from the perspective of people involved in traffic accidents where truck drivers are at fault, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations eliminated the distinction between independent contractors and employees with respect to motor carriers and liability. All drivers for a motor carrier company, including independent contractors, are now deemed statutory employees of the motor carriers. The motor carriers now bear the ultimate liability for any accident in which their drivers are at fault.

Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks Still Present Complicated Liability Issues

The very size of tractor-trailers also creates one of their most dangerous characteristics: blind spots. Every car has blind spots, but passenger vehicles are smaller, and so are their blind spots. Passenger vehicle drivers can easily check their blind spots.

This is not the case with tractor-trailer drivers. In fact, it is impossible. Tractor-trailer blind spots, depending on the size of the truck, can extend as much as 200 feet behind the rig. Blind spots on either side of the rig extend well beyond the end of the trailer, and depending upon the make and model of the semi hauling the trailer, as far as 20 feet in front of the semi. Liability issues become complicated when it is literally impossible for a truck driver to know whether a passenger vehicle is there.

Avoid Truck Blind-Spot Accidents

Passenger vehicle drivers must take defensive measures to avoid accidents that might occur because a truck driver can’t see them. These measures include:

  • Do not cut closely in front of a tractor-trailer. This might put you in a blind spot where the truck driver cannot see if you are there.
  • Avoid holding a position next to a tractor-trailer. If you find yourself driving next to a truck, either pass the truck or fall back to a position where the truck driver can see you. Where possible, pass on the left, where the truck driver’s blind spot is smaller. The blind spot on the right is much larger. If you can’t see the driver’s face in his side mirror, he can’t see you.
  • Keep a safe distance when driving behind a tractor-trailer. If you can’t see the truck’s side mirrors, the driver can’t see you.

If a Commercial Truck Injured You in the Philadelphia Area, Contact The Levin Firm

If you suffered a personal injury in a traffic accident involving a commercial truck in the Philadelphia area, protect your rights and explore your compensation options. The Levin Firm can help. Contact us at (215) 825-5183 or through our online contact form.

November 27, 2017

The Unique Risks Associated with Semi-Truck Accidents

Semi Truck Accident Lawyer in PA

When negligent truck drivers cause accidents on Pennsylvania roadways, these drivers and their employer trucking companies may be on the line for negligence—and for the injuries and damages sustained by innocent accident victims. Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are unique in that they have the potential to cause serious jackknife accidents. These vehicles may also cause accidents due to coupling device failures and rollover accidents caused by unbalanced cargo.

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, Pennsylvania law may entitle you to monetary compensation. The knowledgeable Philadelphia truck accident lawyers at The Levin Firm can discuss the facts and circumstances of your case, evaluate your claim, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and, if necessary, litigate your case through the Pennsylvania court system all the way through trial and judgment.

Large Vehicles Can Easily Roll Over

Trucks, tractor-trailers, big rigs, and semis weigh many tons and smaller vehicles are no match for them. In addition to state laws, large trucks and tractor-trailers must comply with Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration regulations
. These rules place restrictions on the following:

  • Vehicle weights
  • Load limits
  • Oversized loads
  • Trailer cargo

When cargo is not properly secured to a trailer, or when it is not properly balanced, the truck or trailer can overturn—or roll over—causing one or more of the following:

  • Multi-vehicle chain reaction collisions
  • Chemical or hazardous waste spills in roadways
  • Trailer cargo dislodging from the trailer and onto roadways (or into smaller vehicles)

Moreover, when tractors and trailers are not properly secured together, they can come apart in the middle of the roadway and cause serious accidents.

Trucks Are Fast Vehicles

Drivers of large trucks and tractor-trailers have a tendency to switch travel lanes often and quickly maneuver themselves around smaller vehicles, all with the goal of arriving at their destinations sooner. Truck drivers usually have a financial incentive to drive fast. However, under state law, they still have a duty to drive reasonably and safely under the circumstances. When they fail to do so, they may be responsible for the accidents and personal injuries they cause.

When truck drivers drive too quickly around curves, for example, they may jackknife—the tractor and trailer may fold in a way that resembles the folding of a pocket knife—potentially causing accidents or massive pile-ups of vehicles.

Negligent Pennsylvania Truck Drivers

Trucks and tractor-trailers are large, fast, and heavy. When drivers ignore or violate Pennsylvania Rules of the Road to arrive at their final destinations sooner—for which they may have financial incentives—serious accidents and personal injuries can result. Examples of truck driver negligence that can lead to jackknifing, coupler device failures, and rollovers include:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless, careless, or distracted driving
  • Cellular phone use while driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
  • Disobeying traffic control devices (including running red lights, stop signs, or yield signs)
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles
  • Cutting curves too sharply
  • Fatigued driving
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Poor brake maintenance
  • Abrupt lane changes
  • Driving too fast for hazardous road conditions
  • Failing to abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations (for example, regarding trailer load sizes, overhang, escort vehicles, warning lights, and warning signs)

Catastrophic Injuries Sustained in Pennsylvania Truck Accidents

Truck accidents usually occur at highway speeds and may involve jackknifing, uncoupling, or rollovers. As a result of a semi-truck or tractor trailer’s large size and high rate of speed, any impact with a smaller vehicle is likely to result in serious—and potentially catastrophic—injuries and damages. The most common catastrophic injuries sustained in Pennsylvania truck accidents include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), fractures, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, cuts, abrasions, permanent facial scarring, and in the worst cases, death.

These catastrophic injuries can result in lengthy hospital stays, long courses of medical treatments or physical therapy, future medical procedures, and long-term care at nursing homes or other assisted living facilities.

Proving Liability and Medical Damages

For an injured truck accident victim to recover compensation for serious injuries and damages—including eye injuries—the injured plaintiff must ordinarily prove negligence on the part of the at-fault truck driver.

Specifically, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that the at-fault truck driver had a duty to act as a reasonably prudent and careful driver under the circumstances; that the at-fault driver breached this duty of care, such as by speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way, or otherwise driving in a careless or reckless manner; and that this breach resulted in the accident victim’s injuries and damages.

Potential Liability of the Driver’s Trucking Company

When a truck driver works for a trucking company, the injured motor vehicle driver may also have a legal cause of action against that company under what is called the vicarious liability theory of recovery. If, in other words, the truck driver was driving negligently while in the scope of employment, then the trucking company could also face accountability for the accident victim’s injuries and damages.

A trucking company may also face liability for negligently entrusting a truck driver to operate a motor vehicle while on the roadway, for negligently supervising the truck driver, or for negligently hiring the truck driver. If the truck driver was previously fined for—or charged with—negligent or reckless driving and is a repeat offender, the trucking company may be on the line for negligently retaining the offending truck driver.

Contact a Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation

If you have sustained injuries in a trucking accident that directly resulted from someone else’s negligence, the experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorneys at The Levin Firm may help prove your injuries and damages.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer, please call us at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.

November 22, 2017

Was Your Truck Accident Caused by Poor Driver Training?

Truck Accident Lawyers in PA

To operate a tractor-trailer on Pennsylvania roadways, a driver must first undergo the necessary training and obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Once a driver has obtained a CDL, the driver must re-certify and take part in continuing education classes on a regular basis.

A variety of circumstances may cause Philadelphia truck accidents. In some cases, these accidents come about as a result of poor driver training. In those cases, both the truck driver and the trucking company can face liability for the accident, injuries, and resulting damages.

If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in a Philadelphia truck accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, Pennsylvania law may entitle you to recover monetary compensation. The knowledgeable truck accident lawyers at The Levin Firm have the legal knowledge and expertise to fully investigate your truck accident claim, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, litigate your case, and take it to trial if necessary.

Ways in Which Truck Drivers Drive Negligently

Big rigs and tractor-trailers are large, heavy vehicles, and serious accidents can result when their drivers ignore or violate traffic laws and established rules of the road. In some cases, these accidents occur as a result of poor or insufficient driver training, potentially causing drivers to lack awareness about the following:

  • Speed limits
  • Attentive and responsible driving
  • Cellular phone use while driving
  • Proper emergency procedures
  • Proper protocols for activating lights and other safety equipment
  • Laws regarding driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) or alcohol (DUI)
  • Proper right-of-way rules for trucks and tractor-trailers
  • Rules for measuring turning distances (especially around curves and at traffic intersections)
  • Rules for measuring proper stopping distances
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations (for example, regarding load size, overhang, escort vehicles, safety features, etc.)

What Happens When Truck Drivers Are Poorly Trained?

Serious accidents with other motor vehicles can result when truckers are poorly trained and engage in careless, negligent, or distracted driving. Risks associated with careless, negligent, and distracted driving by truckers include:

  • Multi-vehicle, chain reaction collisions
  • Tractors and trailers overturning in the middle of roadways
  • Chemical or hazardous waste spills in roadways
  • Trailer cargo dislodging from trailers and onto roadways (or into other vehicles)

Common Defendants in Truck Accident Cases

For an injured plaintiff to prove negligence against a truck driver, the plaintiff must show that the trucker failed to act as a reasonably prudent trucker would have acted (or driven) under the same or similar circumstances. This usually means that the truck driver must have violated some traffic law or Pennsylvania rule of the road, such as by speeding, driving too fast for the road or weather conditions, or engaging in distracted driving.

In addition to proving that the trucker breached the applicable standard of care, the injured plaintiff must also show that this breach resulted in certain injuries and damages.

The injured motor vehicle driver may also have a legal cause of action against the trucking company on a theory of vicarious liability or agency liability. For example, if the trucking company failed to provide the proper education and training for its employee truck drivers—or failed to ensure that all employee truck drivers renewed their CDLs or fulfilled their continuing education requirements—then the trucking company could face full or partial responsibility for the accident victim’s injuries and damages.

A trucking company could also face liability for negligently entrusting the truck driver to be on the roadway, negligently supervising the truck driver, or negligently hiring or retaining the truck driver. If the truck driver was previously fined for—or even charged with—negligent or reckless driving and is a repeat offender, the trucking company could be on the line for negligently retaining the truck driver.

Damage Awards in Truck Accident Cases

In addition to proving liability (or fault) in a truck accident case, the injured plaintiff must also show that the truck driver’s negligence caused foreseeable, sustained damages in the accident. An injured Philadelphia motor vehicle driver may recover some or all of the following types of economic and non-economic damages from a negligent truck driver and possibly from the trucking company:

  • Payment of all related medical bills, including bills for hospital stays, medical treatment, and physical therapy
  • Compensation for future medical procedures or surgeries
  • Compensation for lost wages
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress damages
  • Loss of earning capacity (in cases of permanent damage or disability)
  • Loss of companionship or spousal support

Contact a Philadelphia Truck Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Consultation

Truck accidents can result in serious injuries and damages. The experienced truck accident lawyers at The Levin Firm can meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case and can perform a case evaluation for you.

Under Pennsylvania law, Philadelphia truck drivers and trucking companies are required to maintain insurance coverage on their vehicles, including the tractors and the trailers. As a result, insurance companies hold the purse strings when it comes to paying out damages in personal injury cases.

Truck accident plaintiffs must understand that insurance companies are not interested in fully or fairly compensating them for the injuries and damages they sustained in their accidents. The attorneys at The Levin Firm are ready and willing to take on the insurance company and help you obtain the monetary compensation that you need and deserve under the law. In addition to being skilled negotiators, our attorneys are also skilled litigators and welcome the opportunity to litigate your case through the Pennsylvania court system, even taking it to trial if necessary.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer, please call us at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online today.

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