Have you or a loved one been injured in a commercial vehicle accident? The truck accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are here to help.
Being involved in any type of accident can be catastrophic to the victim and their family. However, when a commercial vehicle crash leaves you injured and unable to work, resulting in piling medical bills, you need a law firm that can help you recoup your losses and hold the at-fault party accountable.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our personal injury lawyers work with you to recover lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and more. To set up a consultation with our legal team, contact the commercial vehicle accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys by calling 855-866-5529 or connecting with us online.
What Is a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
Commercial vehicle accidents are those collisions that involve commercial transport. This may include tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, business-owned vehicles, buses, trains, etc.
In 2019 alone, there were 33,244 fatal crashes in the United States. Of those, 4,696 involved at least one large truck or bus. Further, there were an estimated 575,000 nonfatal crashes that involved at least one large truck or bus.
What Injuries Are Common in Commercial Vehicle Accidents?
Due to the size of many commercial vehicles, victims of these collisions often result in severe injuries. Common injuries in commercial vehicle collisions are:
- Brain injuries
- Blunt force trauma
- Post-traumatic stress
- Orthopedic injuries
- Severe bone fractures
Who Is Responsible for Commercial Vehicle Wrecks?
Determining who is at-fault for a commercial vehicle car accident or truck accident can be complicated as a number of individuals or entities can be held liable.
In general, the first party who may be held responsible for commercial vehicle wrecks is the company who owned the vehicle which caused the accident. This could be the commercial trucking companies, the delivery company, bus company, train company, among other commercial vehicles owned by a larger entity.
But, there could also be other parties who are responsible for accidents involving commercial motor vehicles. This may include:
- The vehicle manufacturer if there was a faulty part that caused the truck’s electronic control module or other component to work inadequately.
- A mechanic who services the commercial motor vehicle and deemed it road safe.
- The trucking company for allowing an overworked truck driver or other vehicle operator to be behind the wheel.
- A government agency who is responsible for road upkeep and maintenance.
Determining who is liable for your truck accident case requires the work of an experienced attorney well-versed in Pennsylvania commercial truck accident law.
What Should I Do If I’m in a Car Accident with a Commercial Vehicle?
If you are involved in a car accident that involves commercial vehicles, there are a few things you must consider given the intricacies of commercial truck accident law.
Crashes that involve commercial trucks can lead to serious injuries for drivers and passengers in smaller motor vehicles and unfortunately, can lead to wrongful death. This is often due to the size, speed, and the type of materials being carried in the semi trucks involved.
Because of the likelihood of serious injury, extensive property damage, and even death, you will want to call a commercial vehicle accident attorney as soon as you can. A truck accident law firm will work with you to secure the maximum value of your truck accident claim.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our personal injury lawyers will help you by calculating the total value of your case and get the most compensation for your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Diminished quality of life
- Reduced earning potential
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
In the event your claim is not settled in an insurance claim, or the trucking company is trying to minimize their liability in the case, our attorneys will represent you in court to ensure that you get the compensation you need to move forward.
While you never have to hire a personal injury law firm for your commercial motor vehicle accident, know that the trucking company will have their own insurance company and legal team guiding their every move, making it increasingly difficult for you to handle all of the moving parts alone. Further, the trucking companies may even push for your case to be heard in court to benefit them–not you.
Hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you avoid this pressure by allowing the legal team to handle all communications with the trucking company, insurance adjusters and other involved parties.
What Evidence Do I Need For Commercial Vehicle Accidents and Large Truck Accidents?
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident involving a commercial truck, there are certain forms of evidence you will need to ensure that you get the most compensation for the accident.
The first form of evidence you need to prove liability in commercial truck accidents is any forensic evidence from the accident scene. With this type of evidence, your legal representative will be able to reconstruct the accident with the help of specialists. Examples of forensic evidence may include:
- Skid marks
- Damage to guardrails, signposts, etc.
- Photographs and video documentation of the crash
- Information about current traffic patterns
The next form of evidence will be specific to the truck driver. This includes his or her cellphone records, logbooks, and related employment records.
Distracted driving can be one of the largest culprits of commercial truck collisions, so if you can prove that the truck driver was not paying attention to the roadway at the time of the accident. Further, you will want to get a copy of the truck driver’s log books and related employment records. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration determines the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel. If the logbook kept by the driver shows that the hours driven exceeds federal law, this can be used against the truck driver.
In addition, other information from the truckers employment record may also be valuable such as the types of background checks performed, and previous driving accidents.
Another piece of evidence that can impact the validity of your case is the truck’s maintenance history. If it can be proven that the vehicle was not properly maintained either by the driver if they owned it outright, or by the trucking company, and that lack of maintenance caused the collision, you will be able to strengthen your claim.
In addition to the evidence needed to show the driver was at fault or a related party, you will also need to prove your losses as a result of the truck accident.
Medical Records and Medical Expenses
After a truck accident, proof of changes to your medical needs will be critical for your claim to calculate your total damages. Because of this, it is all the more important to seek medical treatment after a truck accident as the insurance company will want to see a comprehensive list of medical care and future medical needs.
This can include appointments, scans, tests, medications, therapies, etc. If possible, keep a record of all of your medical needs in one place that you can easily add to. Medical expenses are likely to be one of the largest sources of debt following a trucking accident so be sure to keep a record for the sake of your case.
It is likely that following an accident with any commercial vehicles, you will be unable to work for some time. And in some cases, you may not be able to return at all. In order to recover compensation for your lost wages and future wages, you will need to prove your employment records to your personal injury lawyer so they can begin to calculate how your earnings will need to be compensated for the length of your recovery.
Depending on where the auto accident occurred, there will likely be witnesses who can attest to the facts of the case of your collision. The testimony may be from other drivers of passenger cars on the road, expert witnesses who have recreated the collision, etc.
Expert witnesses are going to be particularly important for medical testimony as the truck companies will likely want outside opinions on your medical condition as the case progresses.
Causes of Commercial Truck Crashes
Any experienced truck accident attorney will tell you that the causes of truck accidents can result from a minor accident that turns catastrophic to something much bigger. Some of the most common causes of large commercial truck wrecks include the following.
With an estimated 70 percent of all consumer goods making it to their financial destination via some sort of delivery truck, it is no surprise that driver error accounts for many truck accidents.
Because of the demand on commercial vehicle drivers, these workers often feel the need to work to their limits, with employers constantly pushing them to the max. Forms of driver error may include:
- Fatigue: Commercial drivers of any size vehicle face extreme schedules to keep up with consumer needs. Unfortunately, despite federal regulations pertaining to the number of hours a driver can spend behind the wheel, fatigue continues to creep up on drivers. However, this is not just not to blame on the drivers, this can be a result of employers pushing unrealistic delivery goals on their employees. But when a driver does not abide by federal regulations and nods off causing an accident, the driver’s error can be fatal.
- Distractions: We were all taught when learning to drive that we must not give into distractions when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Even the most minor of distraction, such as answering the phone, eating or drinking, etc. can result in a horrific collision if and when the driver loses control of the vehicle. Further, texting while driving has proven even more dangerous in the modern day as this not only distracts the drivers vision, but it can take their mind off the road, and their hands off the wheel.
- Unhealthy lifestyles choices: Truck drivers live some of the most solitary lives that don’t always become conducive of a healthy, traditional, lifestyle. From the long hours on the road, to stress of driving these sometimes hazardous materials, these drivers sometimes go to vices that may seem minor but could have long term ramifications to their well being. Be it relying on unhealthy food choices and lack of exercise, these drivers may also turn to things like drugs and alcohol on their off time. However, these can lead to an increased risk for collisions.
Trucking Company Neglect
Driver error may be the leading cause of commercial vehicle accidents however, neglect by the hands of the commercial vehicle company can also be the cause of a wreck. Trucking companies, like any employer, have a responsibility to hire safe and experienced motor vehicle operators. Unfortunately, when the company hires a driver with little to no experience or skill, that driver becomes a liability to the company itself. Further, because of an employee shortage across fields, some companies may cut corners in their hiring and training practices to get trucks on the road and consumer goods delivered, or passengers brought safely to their destination.
In addition to substandard hiring practices, companies may also forgo maintenance on their vehicles which can lead to an accident. Be it hiring a mechanic that may slap a passed inspection on the vehicle, or ignoring drivers complaints that a vehicle is not handling correctly, etc. the commercial companies negligence can be the true cause of a catastrophic truck accident.
Just like a passenger vehicle may be recalled for faulty parts or issues with vehicle handling once it’s on the market, so too can happen to large trucks and other commercial vehicles. When the vehicle manufacturer is unaware of the issues with a vehicle, this can simply be the result of a faulty part, but not because of blatant neglect.
However, when a vehicle manufacturer knows there are issues with the commercial vehicle and sells them anyway, the manufacturer can be responsible for any accidents caused, injuries sustained, and losses endured.
You wouldn’t want to run your personal vehicle into the ground, so you would hope that the large semi truck in front of you on the highway, or the public transport you take to work each day would also be in working order. However, when vehicle mechanics cut corners, the result may be deadly for the vehicle drivers and other cars in the road.
Commercial Vehicle Accident FAQ
If you or a loved one are involved in a commercial vehicle collision, you may have questions when beginning to form an attorney client relationship. If you are considering legal representation from Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for your truck accident settlement, take a look at our commercial vehicle accident FAQ to learn about your rights.
Q. What Makes Large Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
When considering what makes truck accidents so much more complex than car accidents, you must consider the sheer size differences of tractor trailers and box trucks compared to passenger vehicles.
It is estimated that semi trucks in the United States average 72 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 13.5 feet tall with a gross weight of up to 80,000 pounds. In comparison, the average car length is between 10 to 18 feet, weighing over 4,000 pounds.
When you consider the size comparison and then the added weight of a load, compiled with the speed the vehicles may be moving, it’s no wonder why the end result of these collisions compared to other car accidents can be so fatal.
Q. How Is Negligence Established in a Tractor Trailer Collision?
In order for negligence to be established in a tractor trailer collision or any commercial vehicle wreck, the following elements of negligence must be established to determine liability.
- There was an existence legal duty owed to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that duty
- The plaintiff suffered an injury
- There is proof that the defendant’s breach caused the injury
An experienced attorney will be able to establish negligence through evidence from the collision, testimony, medical records, etc.
Q. How Can I Avoid a Commercial Vehicle Collision?
While we can only do so much to prepare for the unexpected, there are some road safety tips you can follow to avoid a trucking accident.
- Keep a safe distance from commercial vehicles. Be it semi trucks or delivery vans, these vehicles may make sudden stops that if you are following too closely behind, you can be hurt in a collision. Further, by following too closely, you run the risk of being in the commercial driver’s blind spot, which can be catastrophic if sudden merges, stops, etc. occur.
- Account for extended stopping time. You may be able to slow and stop your passenger vehicle in a relatively short amount of time. However, when you consider the size and length of a semi truck, these vehicles take much longer to slow and come to a complete stop. In addition, if you pull in front of a large commercial vehicle, you run the risk of being hit from behind if the truck cannot slow down quickly enough.
- Only pass if it is safe to do so. Merging in and out of traffic with a smaller, passenger vehicle may be no issue at all, but when there are large trucks behind you, you cannot pass in front of a truck until you are sure you can safely do so, and that the truck can adequately see you.
Q. How Long Do I Have to File a Claim Against a Truck Company?
In Pennsylvania, you have two years to file a claim against a trucking company or other liable parties for the injuries you endured in a commercial vehicle accident. However, if the accident results in the death of a loved one, you have two years from the date of death, rather than the date of the accident to file a claim for your losses.
Q. How Much Does it Cost to Hire Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers?
If you are looking to hire an experienced truck accident attorney, one of your largest concerns is likely how much it will cost to have a truck accident lawyer by your side. In general, personal injury lawyers and truck accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you will pay nothing up front. Instead, at the conclusion of your claim or case, your attorney will take a percentage of your award in the settlement or verdict as payment.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our fee is never more than what you were awarded, meaning you can have trusted legal advisers by your side while taking care of your loved ones in this time of stress.
Q. Why Should I Hire Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys For My Commercial Vehicle Case?
If you are looking for legal representation from a law firm with national recognition, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is here for you.
For more than 60 years, the truck accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have represented drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and truck drivers who have been hurt in an accident involving semi trucks and other commercial vehicles. We know how catastrophic these accidents can be and we work tirelessly to ensure you and your loved ones get the compensation needed to recover from the horrific events.
Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for truck crash victims and their families and we can do the same for you. Be it through economic, non economic, or punitive damages, we will do everything we can to make sure that justice is served and the at fault party or parties are held accountable.
Commercial trucks may be all over the roadways, but that does not make them immune from the law or the actions of semi truck accident lawyers. Time moves quickly so do not delay.
For a no-obligation, free consultation, contact thesemi truck accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys at 855-866-5529 or by connecting with us online. You don’t pay until we win.