Can I sue after a truck accident in Pennsylvania?

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Answered by: Lee Anthony Ciccarelli

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West Chester, PA
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When a commercial truck hits another vehicle, the results can be devastating. A fully loaded semi can weigh seven times more than the average passenger car. When they are in accidents, they can cause extensive damage, serious injuries and sometimes death.

Commercial trucks hauling a loaded trailer can weigh upward of 50,000 pounds. They are not very maneuverable, take longer to stop and the driver’s sight lines are limited. When a truck driver fails to operate such a vehicle in a safe manner, it can become a dangerous missile.

Driver mistakes are the most common cause of accidents for large trucks. There are rules and regulations in place designed to make roads safer. However, when drivers, their employer and even vehicle manufacturers do not follow them and you got hurt or a loved one died, you might be able to sue.

Common Causes of Commercial Truck Drivers’ accidents

Typical causes of heavy truck accidents include:

  • Distracted drivers. When a driver is on the road over a long distance, they can lose their focus. Sometimes they start to use their phone, fiddle with controls in the cab and look away from the road.
  • Driving under the influence. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, impaired driving causes accidents. Sometimes, drivers take prescription drugs that cause poor coordination and bad decisions too.
  • Commercial drivers are typically behind the wheel for long periods of time. This causes them to be less attentive and often leads to coordination issues. Sometimes, they even fall asleep while driving. There are times the trucking company can be held liable because of unrealistic pressure they put on drivers.
  • Exceeded weight limits. Trucks are not supposed to exceed 80,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight.
  • Unsafe practices on the road. This can include trucks following cars too closely; not making safe maneuvers when passing.
  • Trucking companies often require drivers to follow unrealistic schedules and deadlines. The drivers realize their job is in jeopardy if they do not meet those expectations. It causes them to speed and make bad decisions on the road.
  • Drivers are supposed to meet training requirements. They are supposed to be certified. However, some drivers cut corners and that means some of them do not have the required training.
  • Truck maintenance. Sometimes trucking companies rush repairs and put their vehicles on the road before they are safe. There can also be manufacturer problems, worn tires, bad brakes and other issues that can cause accidents. This can include violating safety checks.
  • Unqualified drivers. The need for drivers is increasing. There is competition for qualified drivers. Sometimes, trucking companies hire people who should not be driving.

Hour limitations for Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates the number of hours a driver can be on the road. This is supposed to ensure commercial drivers are well-rested. When they violate these limits, accidents can happen.

Employers and contractors cannot make drivers work unrealistic schedules or offer compensation that encourages higher speeds or more hours on the road.

Drivers must:

  • Have at least 10 hours off before driving.
  • Not work more than 60 hours on-duty over seven consecutive days (or 70 hours over eight days). They are also required to maintain a log.
  • Only be on duty for up to 14 hours after they have 10 hours of off-duty time. They are also limited to 11 hours of actual driving.
  • Take a 30-minute break after being on duty for eight hours.
  • Not exceed the 14-hour period with time for breaks, stops for fueling or meals.

Companies often violate these rules. They routinely keep drivers on the road as long as possible (often exceeding the limits) so they can get their loads delivered faster and make more money.

A Trucking hub

The location of our state, with major roadways to New Jersey and New York, means there are a lot of commercial trucks on our roads. That means we have more than our share of accidents.

Major trucking routes include:

  • Interstate 76
  • Interstate 95
  • Interstate 276
  • Interstate 295
  • Route 1
  • Route 30
  • Route 132

Experienced Pennsylvania Truck accident Lawyers Can Assist you

Negligence by drivers or their employers can cause accidents. If you or a family member was in an accident, call an experienced truck accident attorney. You might have a lawsuit. A lawyer will help you determine if you have a viable lawsuit. If you do, they can help you collect evidence that can validate your case.  It is important to reach out to experienced injury lawyers with a positive track record for pursuing and obtaining financial settlements for their clients injured in truck and tractor trailer accidents. 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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