The Unique Risks Associated with Semi-Truck AccidentsBy Gabriel Levin on November 27th, 2017
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:
- 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.