With a long record of work in both state and federal courts, our firm represents clients in cases involving:
- Interstate and intrastate trucking on highways 80, 81, 99, 180, 14, 15, 220, 287, 44 and other routes
- Marcellus Shale trucking, including commercial vehicles used to transport equipment into wooded areas
- Water trucks and gas trucks
- Multiple vehicles
- Cars that were cut off by trucks, and vice versa
- Vehicles speeding or making illegal turns
- Distracted driving
- Catastrophic injuries and loss of life
Whether the injury was sustained by a trucker, a noncommercial driver or a passenger, we can clearly explain how the law relates to your situation. Your options may include filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Our attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters have successfully represented clients in all kinds of truck accident cases. There are many reasons why large trucks wind up having collisions. Sometimes a driver is a fault, or sometimes the trucking company is negligent in scheduling drivers or failing to check and maintain vehicles properly.
The most common accident causes include:
- Heavy truck vehicle failure crashes related to tires and wheels, brakes, and unsecured or overloaded trailers.
- Driver Fatigue and spending too many hours driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has stated that the longer drivers remain on the road, the greater the percentage of crashes caused by fatigue, loss of reaction time, and the possibility of falling asleep. There are federal Hours-of Service regulations (49 CFR Part 395) regulations by the FMCSA which limit when and how long commercial motor vehicle drivers may drive, but these are sometimes violated.
- Collisions involving drivers speeding, tailgating, aggressive driving, road rage, or driving recklessly.
- Crashes involving drivers who speed, run red lights or stop signs, make illegal turns, unsafe lane changes, or commit other moving violations. Some 7 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction.
- Distracted driving including testing, talking on phones, fiddling with equipment.
- Substance Abuse, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- Hazardous road conditions. According to surveys conducted by the trucking trade journal Overdrive, Pennsylvania has some of the worst roads in America. Particularly bad are conditions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interstate 78 and Interstate 80. According to the DOT, in 2015 Pennsylvania interstate highways had 1,807 heavy truck accidents with 12 fatalities. Other State highways had 3,879 accidents with 10 fatalities. The Pennsylvania Turnpike had 486 accidents with 2 fatalities, and local roads had 744 accidents with 3 fatalities.
- Equipment failure, including power train failure, total steering system failure, trailer hitch and improper towing and suspension problems, and vehicle lighting related problems.
What a Truck Accident Attorney Can Do
Truck accident lawsuits are particularly complex because of all the aspects involved. Pennsylvania law allows employers to be held responsible for negligent hiring, negligent retention, and negligent supervision of their truck driver employees to make sure they are safe, do not have a history of accidents, tickets or other legal violations, and to test drivers for drug use. They are also responsible to ensure their vehicles are safe and maintained correctly. If the trucking company has failed to live up to their responsibilities, they may be sued for negligence.
Experienced truck accident attorneys can determine if regulations have been violated and to make sure evidence is collected properly, witnesses are interviewed, insurance companies are handled, forms are filed correctly and liability is established for the crash. Most often the trucking companied will be sued, but the driver may also be liable. There is often a contest as to whether the truck driver is an independent contractor or an employee. This can be an extremely important question as to how much insurance is available.
To determine liability, our truck accident investigation team may look into:
- truck driving log books and records,
- driving history of the vehicle and trailers,
- past accident and arrest records of the drivers,
- truck maintenance records,
- truck weigh-ins, and records of Qualcomm — a satellite truck tracking system which can approximate the speed of the vehicle at the time of the accident. These records must be acquired quickly as they are often expunged after 30 days.
What to do after a truck accident
After a truck accident you should do the following:
- Stay at the crash scene.
- Call 9-1-1 for help and report the crash.
- Seek medical treatment.
- If you are in reasonable medical condition you should:
- Check other vehicles for injuries.
- Document the crash – take photos, videos and audio recordings.
- Get names and information from any witnesses.
- Exchange information with other drivers.
- Don’t make any statements or speak to insurance adjustors until you consult a personal injury attorney.
What to do if the trucking company calls
If you have been involved in a crash with a truck, do not speak to anyone from the trucking company until you consult with your attorney. Even if the representative sounds sympathetic, the trucking company has its own interests at heart and will try to get you to say something that can be used against you or persuade you to accept the lowest settlement possible.
When product liability causes accidents
If the crash was caused by a faulty or malfunctioning part or piece of equipment, the manufacturer of that product could be liable. Your attorney should be investigating the cause of the crash and making the determination of whether a product was at fault and whether to consider a product liability lawsuit.
Common Injuries from Truck Accidents
Injuries from trucks and other large vehicle crashes are often severe and may include catastrophic and devastating injuries such as paralysis, brain trauma, broken bones, disfigurement, emotional damage and post traumatic stress syndrome, and of course, death. If victims survive, their lives may never be the same.
Deaths and truck accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016. Seventeen percent of these deaths were truck occupants; 66 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles; and 16 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants due to the vulnerability of people in smaller vehicles. Trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars and are taller, with greater ground clearance, which can result in smaller vehicles under riding trucks in crashes. Family members of victims may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death.
Where do truck accidents most often happen?
Surprisingly, most trucking accidents occur in rural areas. This is due to the fact that in city limits truck drivers generally reduce their speed and pay more attention to the other vehicles and pedestrians around them. Rural areas have higher speed limits, are more boring and may have long stretches that are hypnotizing to drive; drivers may become less attentive, be distracted and start eating, talking on the phone or fiddling with equipment, or they may become drowsy and fall asleep.
Types of Trucks
The most common large truck types that cause accidents include:
- Dump & Garbage Trucks and other work vehicles
- Tanker Trucks
- Flatbed Trucks
Contact Us for Help and a Free Consultation
If you or your loved ones have been injured or someone has been in a crash involving trucks, help is available help from skilled and compassionate Williamsport truck accident attorney at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters. We understand federal, state, and local regulations and legal standards, know how insurance policies work, and can handle all aspects of an insurance claim. If death is involved, we will seek financial restitution for the family members left behind.
If you or a loved one was involved in a truck accident due to someone’s negligence or responsibility, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property loss, and pain and suffering. Our seasoned Pennsylvania accident attorneys have helped hundreds of people file successful personal injury lawsuits due to crash injuries. With decades of experience handling many types of vehicle accidents and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle take on the most difficult cases. We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your case and find the best approach to getting you the compensation you deserve.
If you have been in an accident, time is of the essence so do not delay. Call (570) 323-8711 or use our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.