Montgomery County Truck Accident Attorney
It is devastating when you are in a crash with a large truck. Due to their size, trucks can cause life-threatening injuries and completely total your car.
Recognizing the significant risk that these large trucks pose to others on the road, both federal and state governments require truck drivers to comply with regulations regarding how many hours they can drive without a break, how to load cargo properly, and how to conduct appropriate inspections.
While many drivers are careful to abide by these rules, violations still occur at an alarming rate, often causing significant harm to car drivers and passengers.
If you were injured in a truck accident and want to learn more about your legal options, please contact an experienced truck accident attorney at The Levin Firm today for a free consultation.
How a Montgomery County Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
You want answers after your truck crash, and an experienced attorney will be able to get them for you. Your lawyer can investigate the true cause of the accident and even work with accident reconstruction specialists to determine fault in more complex cases.
The investigation will also be important because it will allow your legal team to collect and preserve relevant evidence about the crash and identify all negligent parties and sources of insurance. Crashes involving trucks are complicated because multiple parties – such as the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo owner, and the maintenance company – could be found liable.
Proving this liability and fighting with insurance companies for fair compensation is challenging without an attorney. The insurance company’s goal is to try to limit whatever it pays you. Some companies will even send investigators to the crash scene and try to get victims to sign away their legal rights on the spot. Never sign any paperwork that an insurance company gives until you have had the chance to have it reviewed by an attorney.
In other cases, an insurance company will contact a victim by phone to discuss the accident. Be extremely careful about what you say during these calls, and never agree to provide a recorded statement to a claims adjuster. The insurance company wants you to say something that can be taken out of context, twisted, and used against you. Don’t give them the opportunity.
It is always in your best interest to let an experienced lawyer handle all conversations with insurance companies on your behalf. An attorney can submit a formal demand letter for compensation and then negotiate a fair and full settlement to your case.
If an insurance company is unwilling to agree to an appropriate amount of compensation, then your lawyer can also file a lawsuit to try your case in court. The attorney can work to prove that a commercial truck caused your injuries and seek the compensation you are owed.
Types of Damages Available for Truck Accident Injuries
Many truck accident cases are resolved through settlements because insurance companies rarely want to take a case to trial, which involves significant costs. Some cases end up being settled only days before a trial is set to begin.
When a case makes it all the way to trial, a victim can be awarded various compensatory damages. The term compensatory damages typically includes both economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the actual and provable costs that a victim has incurred or will incur because of their injuries.
Common kinds of economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Property damage, including vehicle repair or replacement
Noneconomic damages do not have an easily quantifiable value, so their determination is entirely at a jury’s discretion.
Some of common types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
It is also possible for punitive damages (also known as exemplary damages or vindictive damages) to be awarded in a very limited number of cases. Punitive damages are primarily intended to punish people for malicious, willful, or wanton conduct.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident in Montgomery County?
A truck driver’s failure to comply with safety requirements can have devastating consequences for others on the road. Accident victims who can demonstrate that their injuries resulted from a driver’s negligence or violation of a federal regulation may collect compensation.
This may be true even when a driver’s actual operation of the vehicle was not the cause of the accident. For example, a driver could still be held responsible for an accident if they failed to properly load cargo or to conduct a safety inspection before the trip.
Truck drivers are not the only ones who can be held liable for a victim’s injuries. For example, the following could also be held responsible if their negligence contributed to the accident:
- The trucking company that hired the driver
- The owners of the cargo being carried by the truck
- The owner of the truck
- The owner of the trailer
- The manufacturers or distributors of a defective vehicle or part
- Negligent mechanics who failed to take reasonable care when completing repairs
- Other drivers whose negligence contributed to or caused a truck accident
A mechanical failure could relate to a trucking company’s failure to maintain its vehicle, which could make the company liable for damages. Some mechanical failures, however, could be due to defective truck parts, and manufacturers could be liable.
It is also important to remember that other drivers could be at fault for causing truck accidents. When another motorist commits a traffic violation or some other negligent error that causes a truck to collide with another vehicle, the other driver could be held liable.
It is also possible that a truck accident was the result of a defective highway condition. If so, the government entity or contractors responsible for maintaining the road could be held accountable. Damages in a case involving a governmental entity in Pennsylvania are limited under 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 8528(b) to $250,000 for a single plaintiff or $1 million total for multiple plaintiffs.
Only past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain and suffering, medical and dental expenses, loss of consortium, and property losses are the recoverable in cases involving the government. While the Sovereign Immunity Act prohibits people from filing suit against the Commonwealth, and the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act prohibits actions against municipalities, 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 8522(b)(1) provides that vehicle liability is an exception to sovereign immunity.
The unfortunate truth about a case involving multiple defendants is that you will also be dealing with multiple insurance companies. The insurers in such cases are likely to try to shift blame in an attempt to minimize their responsibility. This can significantly increase the challenge in arriving at a suitable settlement.
Trials may become far more likely in cases involving multiple defendants. Every party involved might become responsible for a certain percentage of your total damages depending on their share of fault.
What Causes Truck Accidents in Montgomery County?
Despite the many regulations in place to help prevent accidents, thousands of victims are still injured in accidents involving large trucks every year. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Driver fatigue
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Mechanical failure
- Improperly secured cargo
While it is dangerous for any driver to engage in these types of activities, it can be deadly when these actions involve trucks. This is mainly because semi-trucks are so much larger than standard-sized passenger vehicles. Trucks also often carry dangerous cargo, such as lumber, steel, cement pipes, and even toxic and flammable materials. In a crash, this cargo can come loose, creating a hazard for anyone who was driving behind the truck.
Establishing Negligence in a Truck Crash
To collect compensation, an injured party must demonstrate that someone else’s negligence caused the crash. Having definitive evidence that a driver violated a federal regulation can go a long way toward establishing negligence, so it is critical to collect specific evidence, including:
- The police report created by the responding officer
- The results of a commercial motor vehicle examination
- A review of the driver’s logbooks, which if completed in accordance with federal law, should indicate when the driver last took a break
- Data recorded on in-vehicle technologies, which can show how long the driver had been driving at the time of the crash as well as the speed, steering, and braking inputs
- The parties’ medical records
Collecting this and other evidence can be crucial in demonstrating that the driver or another party was negligent, and their negligence can be linked directly to the victim’s injuries.
Common Types of Truck Accident Injuries in Montgomery County
Injuries suffered in truck crashes are often severe and include:
- Spinal cord injuries, including those that result in paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Organ damage
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Herniated discs
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Joint damage
Many of these injuries can have permanent and debilitating consequences, including paralysis, chronic pain, and disfigurement. The costs of these injuries to most victims are staggering medical bills, not only for immediate medical care but also follow-up care and rehabilitation.
Severe injuries can also leave many victims unable to return to work for several weeks, months, or even years. Some victims will be permanently unable to ever work again because of the nature of their injuries.
Federal Trucking Regulations
In an effort to prevent these types of horrific injuries, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted a series of regulations that drivers must follow. These include rules regarding:
- Driver qualifications and training
- Maximum driving time
- Procedures for loading and unloading cargo
- Vehicle weight limits
- How to conduct proper truck maintenance and inspections
Drivers are required to take regular breaks. For example, truck drivers must comply with the following hours of service guidelines:
- A driver cannot begin a work shift without having had at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- Drivers are not permitted to drive if they have been on duty for 60 or more hours over the last seven days.
- Drivers are prohibited from driving if they have been on duty for 70 or more hours in the last eight days.
- Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break every eight hours.
- Truck drivers are not permitted to drive more than 11 hours out of every 14-hour shift.
Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, making it especially important for truck drivers to comply with these requirements.
Regulations also prohibit truck drivers from driving if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or more, which is half the legal limit for other drivers.
Call The Levin Firm to Speak With a Dedicated Truck Accident Attorney Today
Please contact The Levin Firm today to speak with an experienced Montgomery County truck accident attorney who can evaluate your case and help you seek compensation for your accident-related losses.