Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorney
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.
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.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
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.
- Some examples of truck driver negligence that leads to serious accidents include the following:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while fatigued or violating FMCSA Hours of Service regulations
- Unlawfully driving with a serious medical condition, such as a heart condition or epilepsy
- Engaging in distractions, such as using a handheld mobile device, eating, grooming, and more
- Failing to complete all required pre-trip inspections
- Aggressive driving, including speeding, following too closely, improper passing, or intimidating other motorists
- Taking turns too quickly
- Failing to adequately pay attention to blind spots
- Driving a commercial vehicle without the proper license or training
- De-powering the brakes in the front of the truck
- Otherwise violating traffic laws or FMCSA regulations
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.
What Is A Jackknife Accident?
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:
- High winds
- Improper braking
- Taking turns too fast
- Improperly loaded or secured cargo
- Driver error
- Coupling device failure
Winter Weather Can Cause Semi-Truck Accidents
Issues such as snow, ice, wind, and whiteout conditions can wreak havoc on drivers on their vehicles, and winter storms are known for being a significant factor in motor vehicle accidents, including those involving large commercial trucks. Poor weather conditions are no excuse for truck driver negligence, however, and federal regulations require that truck drivers use extreme caution and even stop driving if conditions become sufficiently severe. As a result, many victims of truck accidents in which winter weather played a role can recover from the party responsible for their losses through a personal injury lawsuit.
Winter weather can make roads treacherous
Snow, sleet, hail, and ice are all common issues associated with winter storms. When this type of precipitation accumulates on a road surface, it can make the road extremely slippery making it difficult to keep vehicles under control. Additionally, if liquid precipitation falls and the temperature subsequently falls below freezing, nearly invisible patches of ice can form on the road surface potentially causing serious accidents. Some of the more common kinds of truck accidents that occur in winter weather conditions include:
- Override accidents
- Underride accidents
- Jackknife accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Broadside collisions
- Rollover accidents
- Head-on collisions
Determining whether a semi-truck accident was caused by driver negligence or was unavoidable based on the conditions can be a complicated process and requires significant legal and technical expertise. Our Philadelphia trucking accident attorneys will conduct a thorough analysis of your case and determine whether any evidence of negligence exists. It is important for victims to be aware that they still may be able to recover even if they were partially at fault for causing an accident with a semi-truck, depending on the laws of your jurisdiction.
Claims arising from these types of accidents are subject to a strict statute of limitations, meaning that there is a limited amount of time in which you can file a claim. Consequently, it is highly advisable for anyone who has been involve in a truck accident to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Discussing your case with an experienced truck accident lawyer is the first step in getting the compensation you deserve.
Steer Clear Of Dangerous Truck Drivers
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:
- Following you too closely (tailgating)
- Cutting you off by changing lanes
- Making offensive or threatening gestures or comments
- Excessive speeding
- Unnecessary horn honking or flashing headlights
- Following you off the highway
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.
Move Over For Stopped Trucks
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.
Other Potentially Negligent Parties In Truck Accidents
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.