While all traffic-related accidents have the potential to cause serious accidents and injuries, accidents involving large commercial trucks can cause particularly devastating damage. Commercial trucks are much larger than regular passenger vehicles and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, as opposed to an average car that weighs around 3,500 pounds. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in 2012 alone, collisions involving large trucks caused an estimated 104,000 injuries as well as nearly 4,000 fatalities.
If you have been involved in a large truck accident, you have likely suffered serious injuries and incurred significant losses including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and more. An experienced Philadelphia truck accident lawyer can help you receive proper compensation for your losses.
Semi truck driver error is the leading cause of accidents involving commercial trucks. A study conducted by the FMCSA revealed that a truck accident is ten times more likely to occur due to driver error than due to other factors. Professional truck drivers are required to go through special training in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license and they should understand the risks that large semi-trucks pose on the roads. Due to the extreme risk of injury to other motorists in truck accidents, professional drivers are held to a higher standard of safety than operators of regular passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always abide by their duty to drive in a safe manner and driver negligence routinely causes truck accidents.
All truck drivers who negligently cause accidents and injuries should be held fully accountable for any losses suffered by accident victims. Because drivers will not often simply admit to making an error, identifying driver negligence may often be complicated. An experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorney has the knowledge and tools to investigate the driver’s actions to identify negligence to help victims recover.
Semi-trucks belong to a class of vehicles known as “articulated vehicles ,” which are vehicles that are made up of various segments linked by movable joints. This construction allows these vehicles to be more maneuverable than they would be if they were made up of a single unit, but also makes them vulnerable to certain types of accidents to which non-articulated vehicles are not. Jackknife accidents are one of these types of accident that are unique to articulated vehicles and occur when the trailer of a truck swings out from behind the vehicle, resembling the action of a pocket knife. They can occur for a number of reasons, including:
We have all likely seen a car swerving, departing its lane, over-correcting, or making other sudden and unusual maneuvers. These are generally signs that the driver is engaging in distracted driving, is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or may even be falling asleep at the wheel. The same is true for truck drivers and you should stay as far away as possible from trucks that are moving in an unusual manner.
In addition, many truck drivers may engage in aggressive driving if they are impatient or encounter slower traffic and this can be especially dangerous. Signs that a truck driver is aggressive include:
If a truck driver seems aggressive, give them plenty of room on the road. You should never try to engage in a confrontation or stand your ground against a large semi truck. Instead, it is a good idea to diffuse the situation by refraining from returning any comments or gestures and by moving out of their way. If a truck driver follows you on an exit and you believe you may be at risk, call the police.
“No-zones” are the blind spots on a large truck and they can be substantial. No-zones exist behind the trailer, alongside both sides of the trailer, directly in front of the trailer, and next to the passenger side door of the tractor. If you need to pass a truck or drive in a no-zone, do so quickly and try to get out of the no-zone as soon as possible. Always remember that you should be able to see the truck driver – either directly or in the rear view mirror – or else the truck driver likely cannot see you.
When a truck driver has an issue on the road, they may not be able to make it to a truck stop and they may pull over on the shoulder of the highway or of an exit ramp. While truck drivers have a particular protocol they should follow when pulled over they do not always take all necessary steps. You can increase your safety by trying to never pass directly by a pulled over truck and instead move over to an outer lane, which can help avoid a collision with the trailer.
In addition to truck drivers, several other factors may lead to serious truck accidents. Some of these potentially negligent parties include:
Trucking company—The trucking company may be found negligent if an accident is caused by the hiring of inexperienced or unqualified drivers, failing to conduct the required drug and alcohol testing on drivers, failing to supervise or discipline drivers to ensure FMCSA compliance, encouraging unsafe practices to improve their bottom line, failing to sufficiently inspect and maintain trucks in the fleet, and more.
Cargo loading team—An independent cargo loading team may be held accountable if an accident is caused by over-loading, under-loading (generally for liquid cargo), or failing to properly secure the cargo in the trailer of a truck. Cargo mistakes can cause trucks to have trouble braking or stopping or may cause roll-over or jackknife accidents.
Truck manufacturer—Manufacturers have a duty to produce and sell truck parts that are safe for use. For this reason, if a defective truck part—such as brakes, tires, axles, steering columns, coupling, and more—malfunctions and causes an accident, the manufacturer should be held liable under product liability principles.
Government entity—The government has a responsibility to properly inspect and maintain roads and highways and keep them free of dangerous hazards. Large commercial trucks are particularly susceptible to losing control when they hit a pothole, a large crack in the pavement, uneven lanes, or other hazardous conditions. If a truck encounters a road hazard and an accident occurs, the negligent government entity should be accountable to the losses of victims.
Accidents involving large trucks injure thousands of people every year. In many cases, these wrecks are the result of 1 on the part of the truck driver or another party responsible for the truck or its cargo, meaning that victims are often entitled to compensation. A check does not get put in the mail automatically after an accident, however, and there are certain things that victims can do in order to maximize their chances of recovery, some of which are detailed below.
While apologizing after an accident may seem like good manners, it is not a good idea to say you’re sorry after a car crash, as doing so can be interpreted as an admission of fault. After an accident, you should be polite, exchange information with the other drivers involved, and answer any questions that the police ask, but be sure not to say anything that could be taken as an apology.
While involvement in a truck accident may seem social media-worthy, it is important to keep in mind that social media posts can have an effect on the way that your case is resolved. For example, if you post pictures of yourself exercising, traveling, or engaging in other activities that could be seen as indicating that your injuries are not as severe as you are claiming, it could affect your settlement or award. Likewise, things you post about the way your accident occurred could inadvertently indicate that you were at fault for your accident.
You should always see your doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Waiting to do so may allow the insurance company to argue that your injuries were the result of an intervening cause rather than the accident itself.
Additionally, you should undergo a medical evaluation, even if you do not believe that your injuries warrant seeing a doctor. Doing so will ensure that your injuries are evaluated and that you start any necessary treatment as soon as possible. In addition, it will result in the generation of a medical record that may be useful when it comes to establishing 2 and damages, both of which are essential parts of a truck accident case.
Truck accident litigation is complicated, and victims who do not retain legal counsel run the risk of accepting a settlement far below what their case is actually worth. They also might say or do something that could jeopardize their ability to recover at all. For this reason, anyone hurt in a truck accident should call a personal injury attorney soon as possible.
Whether you should settle your truck accident claim will depend on a number of factors. Individuals involved in auto accidents tend to sustain much more serious and devastating injuries when trucks are involved in those accidents. More often than not, small passenger vehicles hardly stand a chance against large trucks and as a result, sustain more damage. If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.
There are generally two types of settlements:
An experienced truck accident attorney will understand your needs and be able to evaluate which settlement is right for you. Your attorney will also help you determine whether settling is the best option for your unique case.
A legal settlement is usually reached when the parties are able to arrive at an agreement outside of court. There are several methods that can be used by an attorney to settle your truck accident case. These methods include:
Often, claims for damages that arise from a trucking accident can be settled. And in the event that a settlement is reached in your case, it is important to have an understanding of the types of settlements usually available to individuals involved in truck accidents. Below are some of the pros and cons of settling your truck accident claim:
Determining the compensation you may be entitled after a truck accident is more difficult than most people imagine. This is because you may be entitled to more damages than simply physical injuries and property damage. Being in a truck accident can be devastating enough, and when you are the injured party in a passenger vehicle, the resulting injuries can be severe, which is why it is critical that an experienced personal injury attorney helps you navigate your legal options.
Calculating damages can be challenging, and the amount of your settlement will depend on many factors such as complexity of your case, the nature and severity of your injuries, and the amount of the claim. Other factors that can help determine the amount of the pain and suffering damages you may be entitled to include:
When trying to determine the extent of the damages you are entitled to, it is important to also think about the following:
Present and future quality of life
Whether you have suffered permanent injuries
The extent of your property damage
Potential to be gainfully employed
If you have suffered injury and related losses in an accident involving a large commercial truck, you always want to seek the assistance of an attorney who understands the complications in this type of case. At the Levin Firm in Philadelphia, we have the experience and resources necessary to hold truck drivers, trucking companies, and other relevant parties responsible for the injuries and damage caused in serious truck accidents. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, so please do not hesitate to call our office today at 877-825-8542 for help today.
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