Skilled Stroudsburg Truck Accident Attorney Explains Accident Liability

Truck accidents are fundamentally more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents.  In an accident involving a large truck, the force of impact is so substantial (due to the increased mass of the vehicle) that severe or even fatal injuries are likely.  According to the most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), commercial truck accidents account for more than 100 deaths and more than 6,000 crashes in the Commonwealth each year.

If you’ve been harmed in a truck accident in Stroudsburg or anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, we encourage you to contact a Stroudsburg truck accident attorney at our firm today.  The team here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC has extensive experience litigating challenging claims on behalf of truck accident plaintiffs.

Negligent Acts Leading to Truck Accidents

There are a number of different acts that can contribute to a truck accident, many of which are attributable to another party’s negligence (and will therefore give rise to liability).  These acts include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Failure to maintain truck in reasonable working condition
  • Improper cargo loading (leading to a rollover accident)
  • Speeding, distracted driving, and generally unsafe operation of the vehicle
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Fatigue
  • Driving without a proper license
  • Driving in poor weather conditions
  • Cell phone usage

It is the responsibility of the truck driver to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances so as to avoid exposing others to an excessive risk of harm.  Failure to do so is negligence and may expose them to liability.

For example, if a truck driver continues driving in the middle of a blizzard and slides into a vehicle after losing control, he could be held liable due to his negligent choice to continue operating the vehicle in such poor weather conditions.  To be sure, because they are operating such heavy, dangerous vehicles, the drivers of these trucks owe a very high standard of care to other drivers on the road.

Liability for Truck Accidents

The main reason truck accidents are so complicated is that it can be challenging to know who to sue and how much responsibility each involved party carries. Responsible parties may include:

  • The truck driver
  • The truck owner
  • The trucking company
  • The truck manufacturer
  • The truck maintenance company
  • If the truck is leased, whoever leased the truck from the owner
  • The shipping or loading company
  • Any number of third-party independent contractors

Along with vehicle inspections, maintenance, and repairs, federal and often state laws help regulate truck accidents. Along with any given state’s transportation department, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration help determine and enforce trucking rules and regulations.

A Stroudsburg Truck Accident Attorney Can Handle the Unique Issues in Truck Accident Litigation

Employer Liability in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of employees who act within the course and scope of their employment.  This is applicable to many truck accident scenarios involving commercial truck drivers.  If you are injured due to the negligence of a truck driver who is driving for employment-related reasons, then you may impose liability on the employer (thereby gaining access to their insurance coverage and financial resources, which can help when attempting to maximize compensation).

Of course, not all truck accident scenarios involve employee negligence.  If a truck driver engages in “road rage” and slams your vehicle, then you may not be able to hold the employer vicariously liable for the harm caused.  Still, you may be able to bring an independent claim of negligence against the employer for negligently hiring the truck driver if they knew (or should have known) about their “road rage” tendencies.  These are all hidden issues you may not know about, but that the experienced attorneys here at Drake, Hileman & Davis handle on a daily basis.

Different Standard of Care

The standard of care on which negligence claims are based varies significantly depending on the circumstances.  A commercial truck driver, for example, will likely be held to a higher standard of care than a driver who does not have a commercial license.  Given the unique propensities of trucks, a skilled Stroudsburg truck accident lawyer can establish a clear standard of care that is favorable to their client’s legal arguments.

How Maintenance Issues Lead to Truck Accidents in Stroudsburg

Maintenance issues are common factors in commercial truck accidents. Due to their weight, complexity, and the number of miles they travel, commercial trucks require regular maintenance, and brakes, tires, and other components must be replaced frequently in order to prevent failures on the road.

Unfortunately, many companies do not perform adequate maintenance on their trucks. They do this, of course, to save money.  As a result, their trucks become dangerous, and when components fail, their drivers are often helpless to prevent serious accidents. Negligent maintenance work is a concern as well, and our Stroudsburg personal injury lawyers have seen many cases of truck drivers losing control due to shoddy maintenance work and repairs.

Inadequate maintenance and negligent maintenance work can lead to many different types of issues. If you suspect that any of the following may have played a role in your (or your loved one’s) truck accident, you should speak with a Stroudsburg truck accident attorney right away:

  • Brake failure
  • Tire failure
  • Engine or transmission failure
  • Headline, taillight, brake light, or side marker failure
  • Cargo strap or tiedown failure

These are just some of the most common examples. Almost anything that goes wrong on a large commercial truck has the potential to result in a collision. Even if you simply suspect that a maintenance issue may have been to blame (or if you have no idea why the accident happened), you should talk to a lawyer to find out if you have a claim for just compensation.

Cargo Issues Leading to Truck Accidents

Cargo issues are also common factors in commercial truck accidents. Similar to maintenance issues, cargo issues can take many different forms. Some of the most common types of cargo issues that can lead to serious and fatal accidents include:

  • Exceeding a truck’s weight capacity
  • Failing to pressurize liquid cargo
  • Failing to properly secure cargo
  • Overloading one side of the truck (resulting in imbalance)
  • Using cargo straps or tie downs that are in need of maintenance or replacement

There are two primary ways that cargo issues can cause commercial truck accidents. First, improper cargo loading can make it more difficult for the truck driver to maintain control. If a truck’s cargo shifts under braking, this can increase the truck’s stopping distance significantly. It can also significantly increase the risk of a jackknife or rollover accident. Overloading one side of the truck (or overloading the truck in general) can have similar effects—and many truck accidents happen because truck drivers are unable to control their overloaded or improperly loaded trailers.

Second, improper cargo loading can cause a truck’s cargo to spill onto the roadway. This applies to all types of cargo, from cars and countertops to water and gasoline. Loss of a truck’s cargo can create an extremely dangerous situation, as drivers in the truck’s vicinity are forced to try to avoid the truck’s spilled cargo while also avoiding collisions with other vehicles. Truck cargo spills frequently lead to multi-vehicle accidents; and, in these cases, multiple drivers, passengers, and families may have claims against the trucking company, shipping company, or both. Thus, it’s important to meet with a Stroudsburg truck accident law firm to make sure you understand your options. 

FAQs: Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Truck Accident in Stroudsburg

How Do You Prove the Truck Driver Caused a Truck Accident?

Proving the cause of a truck accident requires a prompt and thorough investigation. If you have been injured in a collision with a commercial truck, or if you have tragically lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident in Stroudsburg, you should hire a lawyer to investigate as soon as possible. If the truck driver was to blame, your lawyer may be able to use forensic evidence from the crash site, the driver’s phone records, the driver’s driving log and various other forms of evidence to prove that you are entitled to just compensation.

How Much Compensation Can You Recover for a Truck Accident in Stroudsburg?

The amount of compensation you can recover for a truck accident in Stroudsburg depends on your personal circumstances. Pennsylvania law allows for the recovery of medical expenses, lost earnings, other out-of-pocket costs, and various forms of non-financial loss, and you will need to work closely with your lawyer to calculate your current and future losses in each of these categories.

Should I Hire a Stroudsburg Truck Accident Lawyer if I Was Injured in a Crash?

Yes, if you were injured in a crash involving an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer or any other type of commercial truck, you should hire a Stroudsburg truck accident lawyer to represent you. Your lawyer will be able to explain your legal rights, guide you through your next steps, conduct an investigation and fight to recover just compensation on your behalf.

How Can a Stroudsburg Truck Accident Attorney Help if a Loved One was Killed in a Crash?

Pennsylvania’s wrongful death statute, 42 Pa. C.S. Section 8301, allows surviving spouses, children, and parents to file claims after fatal truck accidents. If you have lost a loved one in a crash, a Stroudsburg truck accident attorney at Drake, Hileman & Davis can pursue a wrongful death claim on your family’s behalf. Once you hire our firm, we will fight to hold each at-fault party accountable, going to court if necessary, and if your family’s claim is successful, we will assist with all matters related to distributing your family’s settlement or verdict.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer in Stroudsburg?

When you choose Drake, Hileman & Davis, it does not cost you anything out of pocket to hire a truck accident lawyer. Your initial consultation is completely free, and it is 100% confidential. If you choose our firm to handle your truck accident case, we will advance the costs of pursuing your case, and we will not recoup or costs our charge any legal fees unless we get a recovery for you.  If your case is successful, our legal fees will be calculated as a percentage of your financial recovery, and we will clearly disclose this percentage before you hire our firm to represent you.  It is only at that time that we get paid our fee and get reimbursed the costs that we advanced for you.  

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Stroudsburg Truck Accident Attorney Today

Curious about whether you have an actionable claim? Interested in finding out what you need to do to secure compensation?  Do you have any questions at all about the truck accident that injured you?

Contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, to schedule a free and confidential consultation.  Call us at 570-421-8119 to speak to an experienced truck accident attorney located in our Stroudsburg office or fill out an online case evaluation form through our website.

We look forward to helping you.