Norristown-PA-Truck-Accident-AttorneyTruck drivers are required to drive for hours at a time, over thousands of miles. Recognizing the great 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 successively, 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. 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.

What Causes Truck Accidents?

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:

While it is dangerous for any driver to engage in these types of activities, it can be deadly for truck drivers. This is largely due to the fact that semi-trucks are so much larger than standard-sized passenger vehicles and when they crash, they almost always collide with more than one vehicle. Furthermore, trucks also often carry dangerous cargo, such as lumber, heavy boulders, cement pipes, and even toxic materials. During crashes, this cargo can come loose, creating a hazard for anyone who was driving behind the truck prior to the accident.

For these reasons, injuries suffered in truck crashes are often severe and include:

  • Spinal cord injuries, which are usually caused by the more forceful impacts involved in truck accidents or being crushed by a heavy object;
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are caused by a sudden blow to the skull;
  • Broken bones, which are often the result of being crushed by heavy debris;
  • Burn injuries, caused by exploding gas tanks or a victim coming into contact with a dangerous chemical;
  • Organ damage, which can occur when a victim is crushed beneath cargo or the weight of his or her own vehicle; and
  • Lacerations, caused by flying glass, metal, and other debris.

Many of these injuries can have permanent and debilitating consequences, including paralysis, chronic pain, and disfigurement.

Federal Regulations

In an effort to prevent these types of horrific injuries, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted a series of regulations to which drivers must adhere, which include rules regarding:

  • Driver qualifications and training;
  • Maximum driving time;
  • Procedures for loading and unloading cargo;
  • Vehicle weight limits; and
  • How to conduct proper truck maintenance and inspections.

Drivers are also required to take regular break times. For example, truck drivers must comply with the following guidelines:

  • A driver cannot begin a work shift without having had at least ten 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; and
  • 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. Finally, truck drivers are prohibited from driving if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or more, which is much lower than the legal limit for other drivers.

Establishing Negligence

In order to collect compensation, an injured party must demonstrate that a driver’s negligence caused the crash. Having definitive evidence that a driver violated a federal regulation can go a long way towards 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 log books, 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 indicate how long the driver had been driving at the time of the crash; and
  • The parties’ medical records.

Collecting this evidence can be crucial in demonstrating that not only was the driver negligent, but that his or her negligence can be linked directly to the victim’s injuries.

Collecting Compensation

A truck driver’s failure to comply with these requirements can have devastating consequences for others on the road. However, victims who can demonstrate that their injuries stemmed from a driver’s negligence or violation of a federal regulation can collect compensation from the driver. This is 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 it was caused by his or her failure to properly load cargo or to conduct a safety inspection prior to the trip. In fact, drivers are not the only individuals that can be held liable for a victim’s injuries, as the following entities can also be held responsible if their negligence contributed to the accident:

  • The trucking company that hired the driver;
  • The manufacturers of the cargo being carried by the truck;
  • The owner of the truck;
  • The manufacturers or distributors of a defective vehicle part; and
  • Negligent mechanics who failed to take reasonable care when completing repairs.

If able to establish one of these party’s negligence, injured parties may be able to recover the following damages:

  • Past and future medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future income;
  • Property damage, including vehicle repair or replacement; and
  • The pain and suffering endured as a result of the accident.

Call The Levin Firm to Speak With a Dedicated Truck Accident Attorney Today

Please contact The Levin Firm today by calling (215) 825-5183 to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney who can evaluate your case and help you seek compensation for your accident-related losses.

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