Pennsylvania’s fault laws are complicated. They get even more so when a crash involves a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), or other heavy trucks.
In the trucking industry, several people and businesses work together to get the job done, so the fault may lie with multiple. However, victims and family members will need to know who is at fault to recover fair compensation.
Below, the central Pennsylvania injury lawyers at Hagelgans & Veronis discuss liability in large truck accidents and how an experienced injury lawyer can help.
Liability in Large Truck Accidents
Large truck accidents are different than other motor vehicle crashes. There are obvious, physical differences due to their size, weight, and uses, but there’s also complex issues of liability.
Large trucks have unique features that require regular maintenance to ensure safe operation. Tires, air brakes, and other transportation equipment can cause injury or an accident if not maintained by the driver, his employer, or the maintenance company assigned to the truck.
Moreover, drivers must follow a safe driving schedule and follow all traffic laws. Employers have a responsibility to hire safe drivers and maintain several safety standards.
Here’s a summary of potentially liable parties following a large truck accident:
- The truck driver – truck drivers are held to higher driving standards that include strict rules regarding alcohol/drug use and distracted driving. Moreover, to avoid fatigue and other potentially dangerous conditions, federal regulation limits how long drivers can drive during a 24-hour period. Truck drivers must also maintain a current commercial driver’s license. A truck driver can be held liable if he fails to follow these (and other) safety standards.
- The trucking company – employers have a responsibility to hire qualified drivers, loaders, and maintenance workers. They must also foster safe driving schedules with practical distance goals. If an employer knowingly allows an unsafe driver to drive, or if the company demands an unsafe driving schedule, the trucking company could be held liable if an accident occurs.
- Truck parts manufacture – defective parts often play a role in large truck accidents. According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, the vast majority of large truck failure crashes were related to tires and wheels, brakes, powertrain failure, and unsecured trailers. In 2017, more than 200 truck crashes in Pennsylvania were caused by a defective part.
- Cargo loaders – overloaded or improperly loaded cargo can cause an accident. Negligent cargo loaders can be held liable.
Determining who is at fault for an accident is a complex process that involves evidence gathering and negotiations with multiple insurance companies. Most victims don’t have the tools, resources, or experience needed to secure complete compensation.
To ensure the best settlement outcome, victims should seek experienced legal representation and an attorney they can trust.
Legal Representation: Your Most Important Decision
Large truck accidents are complicated, but an experienced injury lawyer will be able to investigate, analyze, and prepare a large truck accident claim.
In fact, choosing the right attorney for the job can make all the difference in the outcome.
Trucking companies and other powerful stakeholders will organize legal help as soon as possible to collect evidence and statements. Victims may find it difficult to field aggressive questioning from insurance companies, but hiring an injury lawyer can reduce this burden and allow the victim to focus on their recovery.
With effective legal representation, compensation for a truck-related accident could include money for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages/ loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
At Hagelgans and Veronis, we’ve been protecting the rights of injured people for nearly 30 years. Our Lancaster-based office is here to help answer questions you may have regarding truck-related accidents. Call (717) 295-7009, or contact us online for assistance.