Have you been involved in a truck accident? You can hire a Pennsylvania truck accident lawyer to fight for your rights!
Having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side is critical for success. Importantly, large trucks like tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and semi-trucks are bigger than almost anything on the roads. As a result, they frequently cause severe damage in an accident. Most importantly, you are more likely to suffer severe injury, or death, when involved in a truck accident.
Truck accidents are very different from other types of personal injury cases. Numerous federal laws and regulations control how truck drivers are expected to act. Further, these laws state how trucking companies must secure and maintain their trucks. As a result, obtaining justice for your injuries requires a skilled truck accident lawyer. Only then will you have the best opportunity to receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
Your Truck Accident Lawyer Knows the Law
In addition to following state and local rules of the road, large trucks must follow comprehensive federal laws and regulations. In 1999, the United States Congress enacted a new law to help improve road safety involving large trucks. The new law established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Importantly, the FMCSA is primarily responsible for issuing regulations regarding commercial vehicle and large truck safety. The experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices are familiar with these rules and regulations. While the FMCSA rules are numerous, we will cover a few important ones here.
Hours of Driving
The FMCSA limits the hours that truck drivers can work depending on whether they are transporting goods or people. For the transportation of goods, some of the most important rules include:
- The driver must have had at least 10 hours of rest before starting a new work shift
- Driving cannot be for more than 14 hours straight
- If the trucking company operates commercial vehicles everyday, the driver must have at least 34 hours off after working 70 hours within an 8-day period of time
For commercial vehicles and trucks that transport people, some of the most important rules are:
- After having 8 hours off, the driver cannot drive more than 10 hours straight
- If the transportation company operates commercial vehicles everyday, the driver must have time off after working 70 hours within an 8-day period of time
After an accident, the experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices will inspect whether the driver and company followed these regulations. Contact us online or call 888-KITAYLAW for a free consultation.
Record of Hours Driven
To help prevent truck accidents, the law also requires drivers to record their hours each day. Drivers may record their hours either manually or using an electronic device. Interestingly, electronic recording may be completed using a special Electronic Logging Device (ELD). Commercial and truck drivers must record their hours using various categories, such as:
- OFF – Off duty
- SB – Sleeper Berth
- D – Driving
- ON – On-duty not driving
Drivers must submit their hours within 13 days of the day in which they worked. Other categories of documentation must be retained, as well. Importantly, this serves to confirm that the driver’s recordings are accurate. Retained documentation must include:
- Bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or similar documents indicating the origin and destination of each trip
- Records of dispatches and trips
- Expense receipts
- Electronic communication records
- Payroll records reflecting payments to drivers
Keeping proper documentation is extremely important in these cases. Failure to maintain the proper documentation may show that the driver was too tired to drive carefully. As a result, this could strengthen your case that the truck driver or company was negligent in causing your accident. Therefore, the truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices will review this information to help build your case. Call us at 888-KITAYLAW or contact us online for a free consultation.
Controlled Substance Testing
To help ensure that truck drivers are sober on the roads, testing procedures are in place. Importantly, testing must occur at several different times. Generally, these include:
- Pre-employment Testing: Companies must screen for controlled substances prior to a commercial driver beginning their employment.
- Post-accident Testing: As soon as possible following an accident on the roads, a truck or commercial driver must undergo alcohol testing. This is especially true if the accident involved a fatality or the driver received a traffic citation related to the accident.
- Random Testing: Annually, companies must test at least 10% of their drivers for alcohol. For controlled substances, the minimum percentage increases to 25%.
- Reasonable Suspicion Testing: If the company has reason to believe that the truck driver has violated the controlled substance rules, it must administer a test for either controlled substances or alcohol.
As a result, it is highly important to ensure that proper testing procedures were followed in your case. If the truck driver who caused your accident had not undergone the proper testing, the company may have been negligent in hiring that driver to begin with. Therefore, the experienced truck accident lawyers at Kitay Law Offices will inspect these records while fighting your case. You can contact us online or at 888-KITAYLAW for a free consultation.
Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance
Truck drivers and companies are required to ensure that their trucks are in good shape. This helps reduce the amount of crashes and, in turn, helps save lives. To be clear, this must occur systematically. In other words, truck companies cannot randomly decide to keep their trucks in good shape. They must have a system in place to ensure their trucks are always safe for operation. Further, they must keep records, which may include:
- Identity of the vehicle
- Inspection due dates and planned maintenance operations
- Copies of inspections, repairs, and maintenance performed
- Records of tests ensuring that emergency equipment works properly
All too often, accidents happen because trucks are poorly maintained. The experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices will determine whether this applies to your case. Contact us for your free consultation online or at 888-KITAYLAW.
What Compensation Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Get for Me?
Experienced truck accident lawyers will fight to obtain full compensation for your injuries. Unfortunately, truck accidents often result in death, as well. In that event, your family should receive full compensation. The injuries you suffer in truck accidents are called “personal injuries.”
We call the various types of compensation you can receive “damages.” And while the specific damages you can receive vary from case to case, here are some examples that frequently apply:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional stress and anxiety
- Lost ability to enjoy life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Embarrassment related to your injuries and limitations
- Outstanding medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Past lost wages
- Future lost wages
In the unfortunate event that your truck accident results in death, your estate can still pursue your claim. This is called a “Survival Action.” Further, your family is entitled to receive compensation if a truck accident causes your death. This is called a “Wrongful Death” claim. These are governed by special sections of Pennsylvania law.
The experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices will work to obtain maximum compensation for your case. Contact us online or at 888-KITAYLAW for a free consultation.
How Often do Truck Accidents Occur?
As recently as 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that large trucks and buses were involved in 116,000 crashes with injuries. Further, fatalities occurred in 4,889 of those crashes. This was an increase of almost 10% from the prior year. In fact, the United States ranks as the #10 most dangerous country for truck drivers. Because of this, you will want an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side who can take on the insurance companies.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses multiple systems to gather data related to fatalities on the roads. Generally, these systems include:
- Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS): This nationwide census provides data regarding motor vehicle accident fatalities. In addition, the data is available to the general public.
- Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS): When the police complete a crash report, data regarding the number of vehicles involved, the type of accident, whether injuries resulted, and other information becomes available.
Truck accidents cause serious injuries and death
Alarmingly, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that over 37,000 fatalities occurred throughout the federal highway system in 2017. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that, in 2018, 67% of those who suffered fatal injuries in a truck accident were passengers in other vehicles. Another 15% were either pedestrians, on a bicycle, or riding a motorcycle. Many of these accidents occur because truck drivers are trying to get to their destination faster than the rules allow. Finally, large trucks account for 9% of all vehicles involved in crashes with fatalities.
As you can see, truck accidents occur all too frequently. And because of their size, trucks cause serious injuries and death at a high rate. Therefore, make sure you have a strong truck accident lawyer fighting for your rights. The attorneys at Kitay Law Offices are ready to help. Contact us online or at 888-KITAYLAW for a free consultation.
What Types of Vehicles Cause Truck Accidents?
Many different kinds of trucks and commercial vehicles cause crashes every day. From 18-wheelers to buses, and everything in between, large trucks cause severe injuries and death on the roads. Importantly, each type of large truck if different and must be investigated in a unique way. As a result, it is important that your truck accident lawyer is familiar with the type of truck involved in your accident. Below, we have a small selection of the types of trucks we see most often:
An 18-Wheeler is a rig that includes both a tractor and trailer.
Cargo trucks are vehicles that carry all varieties of cargo. Often times, these are loaded incorrectly. When this happens, the cargo moves around in an unsafe way during transport. As a result, cargo trucks are often subject to a rollover, jackknife, or spillover.
Semi-trucks typically include a truck with one or more trailers. Sometimes, they are referred to as “big rigs” or “18-wheelers.” The trailers are used to carry freight.
Tractor-trailers usually include a tractor coupled with a trailer and pulls cargo. The truck accident lawyers at Kitay Law Offices are familiar with these and other truck types.
Since fuel trucks haul liquid fuel, they are subject to sloshing as the liquid moves around during transport. Many times, they carry flammable liquid which is extremely hazardous. In a crash, the fuel may catch fire and cause serious burns.
As is evident from the name, coal trucks carry coal. Since coal can be very dense, overloading in excess of the truck’s maximum allowable weight is common. Also, coal can escape its container and strike cars on the roadway.
Moving Vans are typically used to transport furniture and belongings from one location to another. In some cases, an individual may rent the van. In these situations, you likely have a claim against that specific person for their negligence. Other times, a moving company may have provided both the truck and driver. In that case, you may have a claim against both.
Similar to fuel trucks, tanker trucks often haul liquids like gasoline and other hazardous chemicals. They are very recognizable since they have a large cylinder on the back of the truck. Again, liquid sloshing around during transport is quite dangerous and can result in rollover accidents. The truck accident lawyers at Kitay Law Offices will investigate your accident and determine the cause.
Concrete trucks are so heavy they are often difficult to stop. Because of this, we frequently see rear-end accidents causing heavy damage and severe injuries.
These can include vans from many different companies, such as FedEx, UPS, local restaurants, mail carriers, repair trucks, armored trucks, and furniture delivery trucks. Delivery vans are large and, often times, difficult to maneuver. Importantly, delivery drivers are usually on a tight schedule. Therefore, they may rush and drive less carefully than they should.
Garbage trucks come through our neighborhoods every week. Because they need to make complex maneuvers within our communities, they often run over pedestrians and cause severe injuries. Also, mechanical parts on the truck can malfunction, throwing debris away from the truck.
A tow truck is used to haul damaged cars or other vehicles when they are unsafe to drive or cannot operate on their own. Tow truck accidents often occur due to improper loading, or broken chains. The experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices are familiar with these causes. Interestingly, there are several types of tow trucks:
Hook and chain
Hook and chain tow trucks are what most people think of when they hear this term. It is the most traditional type of tow truck.
A flatbed tow truck uses a special mechanism, called a “winch,” to pull a vehicle onto its flatbed. The flatbed is able to tilt while the vehicle is pulled onto it and then levels out for transport.
A boom winch drags vehicles back up onto the road. This is necessary after an accident where the vehicle rolled off the side of the road or into a ditch.
A wheel lift mechanism uses a metal frame to lift the vehicle. This method typically causes less damage to the vehicle than towing by the traditional hook and chain method.
Construction trucks come in many different varieties, which may include dump trucks, backhoes, excavators, cherry pickers, graders, cranes, and cement mixers. These trucks often cause accidents while traveling ether to or from a construction site. In addition, they injure passengers in vehicles as they drive by the construction site, especially when construction barriers are set up close to the roadway.
Logging trucks are extremely dangerous. The FMCSA regulates the length, weight, and size of logs in transport. Further, logs must be secured properly. As a result, improperly secured or unbalanced loads pose great danger for nearby drivers. The truck accident lawyers at Kitay Law Offices will investigate to determine if these types of negligence apply to your case.
Buses are larger than most other vehicles on the roads. In many instances, bus passengers are actually more protected than those in other vehicles. However, poor driver training, failed inspections, and long hours cause accidents all too often. Importantly, school buses typically do not have seat belts. School buses that do have seat belts usually leave the students responsible for securing them properly. As a result, students can be at significant risk in a crash.
Long distance buses also cause severe injuries. Greyhound buses and city buses allow riders to stand and walk around during transport. This can cause the weight to shift around and make the bus difficult to handle through turns. And in a crash, passengers may be tossed around inside the on-board restroom.
As you can see, truck accidents come in all shapes and sizes. Each accident is unique. Further, truck accidents may involve a wide variety of vehicles. It is important that you have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side with a proven history of success. Therefore, contact Kitay Law Offices online or at 888-KITAYLAW for a free consultation.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
After a truck accident, it can be difficult to think clearly. You may be injured, scared, and disoriented. Adrenaline is pumping through your veins and you are angry. Still, it is important to slow down for a moment and ensure you take steps to protect yourself and your case. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- If it is safe to do so, stay in your vehicle. In the event you are seriously injured, moving around on your own could be dangerous.
- Turn on your hazard lights so passing vehicles can see and avoid you.
- Call the police. You want to make a record of the accident and ensure all appropriate insurance information is exchanged. Your truck accident lawyer will need this information to get started with your case.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident.
- Obtain contact information for all witnesses.
- Take videos and photos of the scene of accident, as well as your injuries.
- Never admit fault.
- Notify your car insurance company of the accident.
- Obtain medical treatment immediately. Even if you don’t feel seriously injured at the scene of the accident, that can all change once the initial stress of the situation wears off.
- Obtain a copy of the police accident report after it is completed.
Taking the above steps can significantly help your case. Getting off to a solid start with these steps increases your lawyer’s ability to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. For immediate help, contact the experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices at 888-KITAYLAW or online for a free consultation.
Recommend Next Steps After a Truck Accident
Once you leave the scene of the truck accident and you obtain medical treatment, you’ll need to know what to do next. First and foremost, ensure you contact an experienced truck accident lawyer for help. Aside from that, there are several things you should do to protect yourself in the days following your truck accident. For example:
Don’t sign documents
Do not sign any documents you receive from any of the insurance companies involved in your case. You should discuss any and all documents with your attorney before signing. Sometimes, insurance companies try to trick you into signing away your rights, so be careful.
No negotiation without a lawyer
Do not negotiate a settlement on your own. Interestingly, the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver will act like they are your friend. Remember, they are not. Instead, their job is to close your case for the lowest amount of money possible. Ensure you have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side throughout the settlement negotiation process.
Keep track of your injuries. Make note of your symptoms and write down each doctor, procedure, and medication you undergo. This will help your lawyer obtain all the records needed to support your case.
Document your expenses. Whenever you need to pay a bill related to your case, keep a copy of it. You can get reimbursed for this in a settlement.
Follow treatment plan
Keep all of your medical appointments and listen to your doctors. It is extremely important to follow the recommended treatment plan. This serves to both help you get better and to support your claim for damages.
Following the above steps is critical for success. In addition, you can use our guide to finding the best personal injury lawyer for you. In doing so, we’re confident that you’ll choose Kitay Law Offices.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents can have many causes. And, unfortunately, truck accidents often cause severe injuries or death. Further, large trucks face unique challenges on the roads because of their size and limited maneuverability. As a result, here are some of the leading truck accident causes:
Truck drivers are often rushing to keep up with a deadline or schedule. Plus, they may operate on very little sleep. As a result, they may forget to use their turn signals, look over their shoulder when changing lanes, or keep alert for surrounding traffic control devices. Further, rear-end collisions occur frequently since large trucks are more difficult to stop.
Commercial trucking companies must keep their trucks in good shape under the law. However, doing so can be expensive and takes trucks off the road for a period of time. As a result, truck companies may cut corners or avoid performing proper maintenance. In addition, trucks must undergo regular inspections. Truck companies, however, frequently avoid performing the required inspections, leading to equipment failures while in transport.
Improperly loaded cargo
Truck companies must follow rules for the proper loading and balancing of cargo. Unfortunately, these companies are often times in a hurry to meet deadlines and don’t monitor their loading process. As a result, loads can become unsecured and shift during transport. This may cause spillovers and rollovers, as well as falling debris.
In trying to keep up with their competition, truck companies may send drivers out on the road as quickly as possible. Sometimes, this means drivers do not receive the full and complete training they must have. Inexperienced drivers are more likely to cause crashes, injuries, and deaths.
Each truck has it own maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). You can typically find this number on the inside of the door frame. The number is set by the manufacturer and represents the maximum weight the vehicle should hold in transport. Interestingly, a wide variety of factors impact the GVWR. These may include the body/frame type, chassis, type of load being hauled, and others. Trucks overloaded in excess of their GVWR become very difficult to maneuver and stop. Unfortunately, this frequently causes severe crashes.
Failure to take proper rest breaks
As explained above, the FMCSA requires truck drivers to log their hours, take proper rest breaks between shifts, and take time off after working for several days at a time. Unfortunately, truck drivers frequently need to meet strict deadlines. As a result, drivers may not take proper rest breaks. Therefore, truck drivers are often drowsy behind the wheel. This causes slower reaction times in emergency situations and less attentiveness to their surroundings.
Hiring unqualified truck drivers
In order to operate large commercial trucks, drivers must obtain the appropriate commercial driver’s license (CDL). Unfortunately, many drivers are hired who do not have these qualifications. As a result, these drivers are unable to effectively operate their trucks, causing many accidents.
Failure to monitor driving hours
If a truck driver is not properly recording their hours and rest breaks, the truck company has a responsibility to correct the problem. However, many truck companies do not take the time to identify and fix these problems. As a result, the truck company may be held responsible for the driver’s negligence.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you will need to know the cause. This is an important step in obtaining compensation for your injuries.
Who is Responsible for a Truck Accident?
Careful investigation is required to determine who may be held responsible for a truck accident. Often times, large trucks carry loads across state lines and may come into contact with several different companies along the way. As a result, your truck accident lawyer will need to complete a thorough investigation into the facts of your case. Generally, these are the people or companies that may be held responsible for a truck accident:
- A negligent truck driver
- Trucking company
- Owner of the truck involved in the accident
- Company leasing the truck involved in the collision
- The company leasing the trailer involved in the crash
- Shipping company that failed to load or secure the load properly
- Manufacturer of poorly made trucks, trailers, or component parts
In addition, other people or entities involved in your accident may be held responsible. Experienced truck accident lawyers will understand how to conduct an effective investigation and hold the right parties accountable for your accident and injuries. Therefore, contact Kitay Law Offices online or at 888-KITAYLAW to get started today. We will provide you with a free consultation and explain how we can help.
How are Truck Accidents different from Car Accidents?
Truck accidents are very different from car accidents. As a starting point, accidents between two passenger cars are more likely to include smaller fender benders where no injuries occur. In those situations, our helpful guide can help you determine when you need a car accident lawyer. In addition, passenger car accidents are more likely to require an evaluation between limited tort and full tort elections on your car insurance policy.
On the other hand, truck accident lawyers often see huge differences with truck accident cases. As a starting point, here are some unique aspects involved in many truck accidents:
Large insurance policies
Trucking companies typically carry larger insurance policies because truck accident injuries are more likely to be severe. As a result, the insurance company may appear to make a large settlement offer, but they actually have a lot more money available to pay on their policy. As a result, it is important to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer to ensure you are receiving maximum compensation.
Heavier property damage
Since trucks are so large, they typically cause greater damage to other vehicles and surrounding property in a crash.
Greater chance of death or serious injuries
Even if you are properly secured in your own vehicle, collisions with large trucks often cause severe injuries. Unfortunately, these crashes frequently cause fatalities, as well.
Larger medical bills
Since serious injuries are more likely to occur in truck accidents, victims often require long-term medical care. When this occurs, your medical bills may continue to pile up for the rest of your life.
The at-fault party will have a lawyer representing their interests. Make sure you have a lawyer on your side who understands the unique differences between truck accidents and car accidents. The experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices are ready to fight for you! Contact us online or at 888-KITAYLAW for a free consultation.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help with my Case?
Having an experienced lawyer on your side is critical for success. These cases are very complicated since they may involve multiple people, companies, causes, and jurisdictions. Further, both state and federal laws must be accounted for. Experienced truck accident lawyers will understand how these elements affect your case. Further, a truck accident lawyer can do the following:
- Understand the insurance adjuster’s tricks
- Use a variety of experts to help support your case, which may include accident reconstruction
- Obtain statements from witnesses
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene
- Review camera footage
- Examine police and accident reports for accuracy
- Dig through medical records to show how your injuries are related to the crash
- Ensure that the parties preserve critical evidence
- Obtain alcohol and drug test results for the truck driver involved in the crash
- Extract data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM) or Event Data Recorder (“black box”)
The experienced truck accident lawyers at Kitay Law Offices will effectively investigate your case. As a result, we can gather the evidence that will support your case and help obtain the best result possible. Call us today at 888-KITAYLAW or contact us online for a free consultation.
How Can I Improve Truck Safety?
Fortunately, several organizations exist throughout the United States that seek to improve truck safety on our roads. Get involved and you could help save lives. A few organizations to consider include:
- Truck Safety Coalition: This organization seeks to reduce the number of truck-related crashes and deaths. They also provide support for surviving family members after their loved ones are killed in a truck accident.
- Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety: This is a group of organizations that work together to help make roads safer throughout the country. Importantly, they advocate for federal and state laws that they believe will help accomplish their goals.
What Can I Do to Stay Safe Around Trucks?
While sometimes accidents are unavoidable, you can take steps to stay safe while driving near large trucks. Here are some of the most important things you can do to lower your chances of getting into an accident with a large truck:
- Stay out of blind spots: Trucks have large blind spots, so ensure you stay out of them. These are commonly called the “no zones.”
- Pass deliberately: If you need to pass a truck, do so without lingering in a blind spot.
- Stay back: Give plenty of space between your vehicle and the truck you are following.
- Give trucks time to stop: If you have a truck behind you, make sure you aren’t following the vehicle in front of you too closely. If you are, you may need to slam on your brakes. Doing this while a truck is behind you increases the chances you will be rear-ended.
Unfortunately, truck accidents still happen even when taking precautions. When they do, contact the experienced truck accident lawyers of Kitay Law Offices. For a free consultation, call 888-KITAYLAW or contact us online.
How Much Do Truck Accident Lawyers Cost?
Each lawyer or law firm may have their own way of earning a fee for their work. At Kitay Law Offices, we never charge you by the hour for your truck accident case. Instead, we work on contingency. This means that we don’t earn a fee unless you receive a settlement or verdict in your favor. You can be certain that our experienced truck accident lawyers will work hard to obtain the best possible result in your case. Contact us for a free consultation today! You can reach us online or at 888-KITAYLAW.