Accidents with a truck are generally more dangerous than those involving other vehicles.  Trucks are heavier and more challenging to safely operate. When a truck accident does occur, then serious injuries, or even death, are often the result.  According to a report conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2015, large trucks and buses were responsible for 4,472 fatal crashes and 97,000 non-fatal injury crashes. Truck accident litigation is rarely easy  If you have been injured in a truck accident in Easton or anywhere else in the state, it’s important that you work with an Easton truck accident attorney with experience litigating such claims.

Truck accident collision with a car

Our Easton Truck Accident Attorney Explains Fault 

Negligence in the context of truck accidents may — in many cases — track the negligence typical of other motor vehicle accident cases.  For example, a truck driver may be speeding at the time of the accident, thus exposing them to liability for negligence in the event of a collision.  In other cases, there may be unique negligent acts associated with the truck itself.  For example, a driver (and/or the cargo loaders) may be held negligent for failing to load the cargo onto the truck in a safe manner.  Improperly loaded cargo can lead to weight imbalances that cause rollover accidents.

Truck accidents also commonly involve issues of employer liability.  If you have been injured by a truck driver who is an employee and who was on the job at the time of the accident (or who was driving for the furtherance of a legitimate business purpose at the time of the accident), then Pennsylvania law may entitle you to sue and recover from the employer under the theory of vicarious liability.  Easton employers, like other employers, may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, and this applies to their truck driver (and bus driver) employees as well.

Of course, in some truck accident cases, the employer may also be held separately liable for their own negligent acts that contributed to the accident.  For example, if the employer hired an alcoholic truck driver (and either failed to conduct a proper background check, or knew about his alcoholism and hired him anyways), and you were injured by the intoxicated truck driver, then you would likely be entitled to sue the employer for negligently hiring the alcoholic truck driver employee.

Common Examples of Truck Driver Negligence

While there are many issues that can cause (and contribute to causing) commercial truck accidents, the most common issue by far is truck driver negligence. Truck driver negligence can take many different forms, and pinpointing the specific issue that led to a crash is critical for recovering just compensation.

As a result, following a serious or fatal collision, it is important to hire an Easton truck accident attorney to investigate promptly. During the investigation, your attorney will look for evidence of common forms of truck driver negligence such as:

  • Speeding – Excessive speed is a common factor in commercial truck accidents. This includes both exceeding the posted speed limit and driving too fast for current road, weather or traffic conditions. For example, many truck accidents in Pennsylvania happen when truck drivers fail to slow down to account for rain, snow or ice on the road.
  • Tailgating – Tailgating is dangerous in any vehicle, but it presents particular risks with large commercial trucks. When a truck driver is tailgating, he or she will often be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision.
  • Braking Mistakes – Common braking mistakes include waiting too long to brake, braking too harshly, and riding the brakes until they fail. All of these are issues that can (and do) lead to dangerous collisions.
  • Turning and Merging Errors – Failing to make wide turns, merging without enough room, and other similar types of errors can leave passenger vehicle drivers with no place to go. If you were injured in a collision involving a turning or merging error, an Easton truck accident attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis can help you seek just compensation.
  • Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is among the leading causes of truck accidents in Pennsylvania. Truck drivers who are talking on the phone, texting, eating and drinking, and following GPS directions are frequently to blame for serious and fatal collisions.
  • Impaired Driving – Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs presents obvious risks, and yet many truck drivers choose to drive while impaired. Alcohol, marijuana, stimulants and various other legal and illegal drugs can significantly impair truck drivers’ abilities behind the wheel.
  • Fatigued Driving – Driving long hours leads to fatigue, and studies have shown that fatigue can cause impairments similar to alcohol and drug intoxication. As a result, many commercial truck accidents happen after truck drivers have spent too many hours on the road.
  • Carelessness and Recklessness – Carelessness and recklessness are to blame for many commercial truck accidents. When truck drivers ignore risks and do things like run stop signs or cut off other drivers, it is often other motorists and pedestrians who pay the price.
  • Poor DecisionMaking Behind the Wheel – Sometimes, truck drivers simply make the wrong decisions. Even if a truck driver is not being careless or reckless, he or she can still make mistakes that put others in harm’s way. With the size and weight of large commercial trucks, it only takes one split-second mistake to cause a lifetime of consequences. 

Accidents Where Truck Drivers Can Be Held Liable

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, don’t make the mistake of assuming you are dealing with a simple, straightforward accident claim. The issues can be numerous and quite complicated. That said, an Easton truck accident attorney can help you sort through the countless details.

Overturned Tractor-Trailers and Big Rigs

Sudden and harsh braking, taking turns too fast, swerving, and other common truck driving errors may cause large trucks to overturn. Similar to jackknife incidents, such maneuvers present many risks for other motorists. For example, if a large commercial truck or trailer overturns and lands on top of another vehicle, this can cause crushing injuries for the occupants of the other vehicle. Passenger cars may also attempt to swerve out of the way of an overturning or overturned truck, sometimes causing a collision with another vehicle.

Accidents Caused by Wide-Turns

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucks and buses need extra space and time to make wide, careful turns and signal appropriately.

Truck drivers must first swing one way before turning the other, placing them temporarily into oncoming traffic when making turns at intersections. While this “wide turning” technique is necessary, it also presents risks for other drivers traveling in the area.

For example, truck drivers turning left may temporarily occupy the right lane, causing collisions with right-lane drivers who are not paying attention. Furthermore, vehicles parked too close to the front of their designated lane may not give the truck enough room to navigate a turn successfully.

Wide turns can also lead to head-on collisions. These accidents occur when the truck’s initial swing, which makes it appear as though it will be turning in one direction when it is preparing to swing the other way, misleads the oncoming motorist to proceed with turning in the same direction as the truck driver, resulting in a dangerous accident.

Bad Judgment Calls

Often, truck accidents result from lapses in truck drivers’ judgment, especially when driving drowsy or intoxicated. Common lapses in judgment that frequently lead to accidents include:

  • Driving under the influence. Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medicines can impair truck drivers’ decision-making while driving.
  • Distracted driving. Driving while distracted by your phone, gadget controls, eating, passengers, etc., is a leading cause of commercial truck accidents.
  • Driving too much. Many truck drivers make the mistake of driving too much in too short of time, despite federal regulations. As a result, truck drivers can experience impairments similar to those caused by alcohol consumption when fatigue sets in.
  • Trying to “beat” yellow lights. A yellow light means prepare to stop, not go faster.

Overestimating One’s Driving Abilities

Overestimating one’s driving capabilities leads to needless accidents on area roadways. For example, truck drivers may assume that they can maintain control while impaired, exhausted, or distracted. This is objectively untrue. Some truckers may also think they can pull off a maneuver when there simply is not enough room. When truckers overestimate their capabilities, they put themselves and others in danger, and they often create dangerous situations that they cannot control.

High Speeds and Disregarding Others On the Road

Many drivers simply drive too fast, especially in congested areas. However, if you are a commercial truck driver, you should be operating the truck slower than posted limits and staying farther behind the vehicles around you.

How Trucking Regulations Impact Your Claim

The two main factors contributing to the complexity of truck accidents are determining whether the truck driver violated any state or federal regulations and whether many people and/or entities may share the fault. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, contact Drake, Hileman & Davis immediately. Every day that goes by without the help of an experienced truck accident attorney is another day that the at-fault parties have to conceal or eliminate evidence.

Trucking Regulations

As is the case with all motor vehicles, big trucks need routine maintenance and care. State and federal regulations require commercial trucks to be inspected and maintained, unlike passenger vehicle owners, who may choose to ignore tasks like wiper fluid refills, oil changes, and maintaining proper tire pressure. A Bethlehem truck accident attorney is well-versed in these regulations and can discern whether any of them were broken or ignored by a truck driver or owner.

Mechanically, commercial trucks are far more complex than typical passenger vehicles. As a result, truck drivers need unique training and expertise in maintenance and operation. Commercial trucks can have up to 18 gears, and their dashboards are crowded with switches, gauges, levers, signals, and other instrumentation needed to operate the various mechanical aspects of the truck. 

As one would suspect regarding a commercial truck’s mechanical complexity, their maintenance and repairs are legally regulated. Any person associated with a particular truck shares the responsibility to ensure that the truck is operational and safe before driving, and all may share responsibility if the vehicle is negligently maintained. 

Maintenance and Repairs Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates interstate commercial trucking. This federal agency has developed a comprehensive set of rules and regulations designed to ensure that all commercial vehicles are properly inspected, maintained, and maintained in a good state of repair.

For commercial trucks, maintenance is the key, and proper inspection allows such maintenance to be done appropriately. Therefore, the FMCSA requires a vehicle inspection before and after driving the truck on every trip. These inspections allow most mechanical issues to be identified before they become a problem out on the road.

The FMCSA further requires truck owners and drivers to keep comprehensive records of all inspections, maintenance, and repairs. These records must be maintained and available for at least one year while the vehicle is in use and at least six months after a vehicle is sold or transferred. 

It is important to contact an Easton truck accident attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis immediately after a truck accident so that these records can be examined before they are altered, destroyed, or “lost.” Failure to preserve these records may subject the owner to liability for any injuries or damage caused by the owner’s failure to inspect, maintain, or repair the vehicle.

Truck Accident FAQs

How are truck accidents different from accidents with cars?

Unfortunately, the injuries sustained in truck accidents are generally more catastrophic than injuries sustained in accidents involving motor vehicles, such as cars. The reason is simple. A fully loaded 18-wheeler truck can weigh up to 80,000 lbs while the average car weighs a little over 4,000 lbs. That means a truck can weigh up to 20 times more than a car. This sheer difference in size makes accidents with trucks much more likely to result in serious injury or death.

From a legal standpoint, there is another major difference between accidents involving trucks and accidents involving smaller automobiles — the trucking industry is highly regulated, and determining fault can be a matter that requires an experienced Easton truck accident attorney.

Should I talk with the trucking company or their insurance company after the accident?

After an accident involving a large truck, it is possible that a representative from the trucking company or their insurance company will contact you for one reason or another. An attorney representing one or both of them may contact you as well. It is important that you do NOT speak with them at all. Instead, refer them to your Easton truck accident attorney.

The questions these parties ask you may seem innocent and you do not foresee any harm in responding. In most cases, however, they are on a mission to find something they can use against you to deny you the financial compensation you may be owed. 

Who do I sue if I have been in an accident with a truck? 

While this may seem like an easy question to answer, it really isn’t. An Easton truck accident attorney will need to investigate to determine who should be sued. Possible defendants include the truck driver, the company that owns the truck, the company responsible for the maintenance of the truck, and the company that designed and created the truck. 

How do I know how much my truck accident is worth?

The only way to really determine how much your truck accident is worth is by meeting with an Easton truck accident attorney so they can review your case with you and determine the value of your case. There are several factors that will need to be considered, including the extent of your injuries, the cost of your medical care, and who is at fault. 

What can I recover if I’ve been injured in a truck accident?

There are different aspects to consider when determining the amount you can recover in a truck accident. Generally speaking, you may be able to recover the following damages:

  • The cost of any medical care you have received or will receive as a result of your accident
  • The amount of wages and earning capacity you have lost as a result of the accident and the extent of your injuries
  • The amount of damages sustained by your physical property, such as your car
  • Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering that you have sustained 

Your Easton truck accident attorney will be able to advise you regarding any other damages you may be able to recover. 

How long does a truck accident lawsuit take?

The amount of time a truck accident lawsuit can take varies considerably based on the ability of the parties to work together. If you are injured in a truck accident and the responsible parties are willing to settle for the amount the case is worth, it can be handled in a matter of months. If settlement negotiations come to a standstill and a trial is necessary, it can take a couple of years to reach a verdict. A long, crowded docket at the courts is a large part of the reason why it can take so long for the courts to schedule a case.

My loved one died in an accident with a truck. Can I sue for their death?

If your loved one has been killed in a truck accident, you are likely left feeling confused and angry. We understand these feelings and fortunately, you can sue for the death of loved ones killed in truck accidents in wrongful death lawsuits. Pennsylvania law restricts who is able to sue and who is able to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit, so it is best to speak with an Easton truck accident attorney to find out more information as soon as possible after the death occurs. 

Connect with an Easton Truck Accident Attorney As Soon As Possible

Our Easton truck accident lawyers are committed to providing representation that is tailored to each client’s particular lawsuit, and our case results demonstrate the success of this approach.  We have secured several multi-million dollar awards for our clients in motor vehicle accident and truck accident cases. Interested in a free consultation?  Contact us at (888) 777-7098 to speak with an Easton truck accident attorney today.