Eighteen-wheelers are massive vehicles, and when they are part of a collision, they can cause a huge amount of damage. A fully loaded truck like this can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, about twenty times the weight of the average passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, 18 wheeler accidents are not altogether rare. In fact, in 2020, 107,000 large trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury across the nation. What’s more, the number of trucks involved in a fatal crash increased by 5% between 2016 and 2020.
While accidents involving 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers and semi trucks can happen anywhere, the Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania is a particularly fertile region for this type of crash. Five major interstates — 80, 81, 84, 380 and 476 — wind through the area. All of these interstates see an abundance of 18 wheelers pass across them every day, carrying cargo of all kinds throughout the nation.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an 18-wheeler accident, you are very likely entitled to compensation. You should not have to bear the financial, physical, mental and emotional burden of an accident like this alone, and we here at Munley Law are here to ensure you don’t have to. Our Wilkes-Barre 18 wheeler accident lawyers have decades of experience handling cases like yours, and are ready to fight on your behalf. Call our Wilkes-Barre truck accident lawyers today to schedule a free initial case evaluation, and learn how we can help protect your interests.
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What Are Common Truck Accident Causes?
Like car accidents, truck accidents can be caused by any number of things. Sometimes, factors outside of anyone’s control are present, such as bad weather. But in many cases, some element of human error is present in a truck accident. Some common causes include:
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the act of driving. This can be cognitive distraction (something that takes your mind off the road), visual distraction (something that takes your eyes off the road), or physical (something that takes your hands off the wheel. This can include things like texting, eating, making a phone call, and more.
- Driving under the influence: Legally, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers when it comes to consuming substances and driving. In Pennsylvania, the BAC limit for non-commercial drivers is 0.08%, but is a full 50% lower for commercial truck drivers, who can be given a DUI if their BAC is above 0.04%. That being said, drunk driving certainly still happens. In fact, the NHTSA reports that 32 people die every day in the US from drunk driving crashes.
- Driving drowsy: Drowsy driving is dangerous enough that the Center for Disease Control has issued warnings against it, encouraging drivers to pull over if they feel tired. However, truck drivers are often expected to drive for long periods of time in order to meet their schedules and deadlines, which means truck drivers may end up driving while drowsy.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving can be anything that puts other drivers in danger, such as speeding, unsafe lane changing, unsafe passing, tailgating, swerving, and more. All of these behaviors greatly increase the chance of an accident occurring.
- Mechanical failure: Truck accidents can occur due to mechanical failure, such as brake failure. This could be due to human error if the individual or entity responsible for maintaining the trucks failed to do so adequately.
- Improperly trained drivers: Trucking companies have a duty to properly train their drivers. Accidents can occur when a company fails to provide their drivers with the skills and resources they need in order to perform their job safely.
- Overloaded or unsafely loaded trucks: Trucks that carry cargo need to be loaded according to specific requirements, such as weight limitations and particular means of securing the cargo. If a truck is improperly loaded, cargo can move or come loose, causing an accident. If a truck is overloaded, it may tip over when attempting to make a turn.
What to Do After an 18-Wheeler Accident in Wilkes-Barre
Experiencing an accident is terrifying, particularly if that accident involves an 80,000-pound 18-wheel truck. It’s important to make safe and responsible decisions in the immediate aftermath of a truck accident, and in the days and weeks following. Some of the steps you can and should take after a truck accident include:
- Seek medical care. When you have been in an accident of any kind, your physical health and safety are of the utmost importance. If you are injured, make sure you get to a safe location out of harm’s way and seek medical attention as soon as you can.
- Call the police. Pennsylvania law requires you to file a police report in specific situations, such as if there are injuries or if the accident was a hit and run. However, it’s usually best to call the police to the scene after any kind of truck accident. It’s possible that the truck driver or other drivers involved may attempt to persuade you not to call the police; it’s important to call them anyway. When the police arrive, they will review the scene, gather important evidence, and write up a police report that can be very helpful to your case down the road.
- Exchange information with all other parties involved. You should exchange information with any and all other parties involved, particularly the truck driver, before leaving the scene. This information should include: contact information, insurance information, insurance policy number, driver’s license number, and employee number if the driver has one. Remember that you should limit conversations with the truck driver to this exchange of information; refrain from anything beyond this, as your words could be taken out of context and used against you as an admission of guilt. You can also exchange information with any witnesses at the scene, as they may be able to provide helpful insight into what caused the collision.
- Document the scene. Even if the police are documenting the scene, it’s recommended to do the same yourself as well. Take pictures of all the vehicles involved, their license plates, the surrounding area, and any visible injuries. You can speak to witnesses for their perspective. You can also photograph skid marks, debris, and any other elements that seem relevant to the accident.
- Call a Munley Law truck accident lawyer. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as you can after the accident. You will likely start receiving calls from insurance adjusters very soon after the accident. On these calls, they may goad you into admitting fault, or try to convince you to make a recorded statement. They may also try to convince you to agree to an unfairly low settlement. Hiring a lawyer immediately after your accident means that all conversations with the insurance companies go through them, protecting you from being coerced in any way. Additionally, the sooner you hire an attorney, the faster they can begin gathering time-sensitive evidence and building a strong case.
How Can an 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer Help You?
In the wake of a truck accident, you probably have a lot of questions. How long will it take me to recover? Who will pay my medical bills? Whose fault was the accident? One question you may be facing is, do I really need to work with a truck accident attorney?
For some minor car accidents, you may be able to settle the whole thing through insurance, and you may not need to involve lawyers at all. However, the reality is that for any serious accidents (and most truck accidents are serious) it’s extremely important to work with a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney. But why is this, and what exactly can a Wilkes Barre truck accident lawyer do for you?
- Defend you against a powerful company. One of the reasons truck accidents are inherently more complex than an accident between two passenger vehicles is the involvement of the trucking company. Rather than going up against another individual, you’re very likely going up against a powerful company that has a great deal of experiences trying to squash cases like yours. Their side will have a great deal of money, resources, and expertise, and can be an intimidating opponent. It’s also possible they may use their expertise to try and convince you to accept blame, or sign an unfair settlement. Working with a lawyer means you have an experienced and powerful team of your own. You don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of or short-changed, because your attorney will fight on your behalf.
- Gather evidence. In order to be successful in any kind of personal injury case, you need a great deal of evidence. You need to show that the other party was at fault, that they caused your injuries, and that your injuries resulted in measurable losses to you and your family. Your attorney will know exactly what types of evidence are most helpful in your case, and how to obtain it. This may include things like: the truck’s black box, driver training records, phone records, vehicle inspection records, evidence as to whether the driver has a history of substance abuse, and more. All of this is crucial in making your case and can be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain without a lawyer.
- Secure you a fair settlement. When you file a personal injury suit after a truck accident, the goal is typically to reach a settlement. This means that the at fault party agrees to pay you a certain amount in order to avoid a trial. This settlement is intended to fairly compensate you for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other damages and losses that occurred because of the accident. Your lawyer is the first line of defense in securing you this settlement. They will know how to account for every loss in your case, and will ensure you never accept an unfair offer. If your first proposed settlement is not accepted, they will negotiate with the other side until a decision can be reached.
- Represent you in court. The vast majority of personal injury suits in Michigan settle out of court, but in a select few cases, a trial becomes necessary. If this happens in your case, you can rest assured knowing your Munley Law lawyer is prepared and capable of protecting you in the courtroom. While some personal injury attorneys only deal with settlement negotiations, all of our experienced lawyers have years of hands-on experience defending clients in court.
If you or a loved one has experienced a truck accident, it’s important to act quickly. Waiting to act can mean losing precious evidence, and if you wait too long, you may not be able to take legal action at all. Contact a Munley Law 18-wheeler truck accident today to get started.
What Compensation Can I Receive in a Wilkes-Barre Truck Accident?
An 18-wheeler truck accident can take an indescribable toll on all parties involved. The physical injuries, the emotional damage, having to put your life on hold as you recover — all of this is an overwhelming prospect. And on top of it all, truck accidents often put a huge financial burden on the victim. Between paying for medical bills, having to take time off of work, attending therapy or physical therapy, and more, the costs can add up quickly.
One of our primary goals as your truck accident lawyer is to secure a settlement that adequately compensates you for all of the above. While it’s difficult to offer an estimate of how much your case is worth without knowing the details, there are general areas you can expect to receive compensation for.
Generally, damages are divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are all those that have a specific monetary value, such as hospital bills and expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and more. Your lawyer will look at how much all of these things have cost you, and how much they’re expected to cost you in the future, and add that into a sum total. Secondly, your lawyer will account for non-economic damages. These are the more abstract, though just as important, costs of an accident, including things like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. In other words, you can be financially compensated for the mental, emotional, and physical suffering the accident caused, and the degree to which it has prevented you from returning to and enjoying your life. Mental health challenges that occur as the result of the accident, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, may also be factored in.
Contact a Munley Law truck accident attorney today to learn about how much your case may be worth. And remember: when you work with Munley, we don’t get paid unless you win.
Working with Munley Law
For decades, Munley Law has fought tirelessly to protect the rights of accident victims in the Wilkes-Barre area and across the state of Pennsylvania. When you work with a truck accident attorney at Munley Law, you are treated with the kindness and compassion you deserve. You know that your attorney has your best interest at heart, and has the skills and expertise to secure you compensation and justice.
Munley has an impeccable track record when it comes to securing truck accident settlements — you can visit our site here to read about some of the multi-million dollar settlements we’ve worked hard to win for our clients. Our personal injury lawyers have consistently been named among the Best Lawyers in America, selected to Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, and are board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Experiencing a truck accident is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying things a person can go through, but you do not have to go through it alone. We are here to guide you through the process from start to finish, supporting, protecting, and fighting for you along the way. If you or a loved one has experienced a truck accident in Wilkes-Barre, PA, do not hesitate to contact Munley Law for a free initial case review. We are waiting to hear from you.
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