Individuals who are involved in accidents with tractor-trailers, coal trucks, natural gas and brine water tankers, box trucks, and even commercial pickup trucks have a high likelihood of suffering catastrophic injuries. The height, weight, and force of an impact with one of these trucks often results in significant damage to the impacted vehicle and serious injuries to its occupants. If you have sustained injuries in a truck accident, you should seek the help of a Western PA truck accident lawyer.
Commercial trucks are involved in thousands of accidents every year. These include coal truck wrecks on roads near mines, natural gas truck collisions near gas fields, and even crashes with pickup trucks near active construction sites. Our legal professionals know how to investigate complicated cases involving 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, coal trucks, box trucks, and other large trucks. We know what evidence to look for, what questions to ask, and how to compile that information into a strong legal case.
An experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer could assist you in building a comprehensive claim for damages relating to your losses. While you are focusing on your physical and mental health, a truck accident attorney could remove some of the pressure and navigate the legal system on your behalf.
Common Trucking Accidents in Western PA
Although commercial truck drivers and their employers are subject to strict rules and regulations for licensing and the operation of these large vehicles, they may still engage in the same risky behaviors as regular motor vehicle operators. Some of the scenarios that commonly lead to trucking collisions include:
- Failing to obey traffic rules and regulations by speeding, driving recklessly, improper passing, and failing to maintain their lanes
- Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Driving while excessively fatigued or in disregard of the maximum working hour and rest period rules for truckers
- Distracted driving due to the usage of cell phones, GPS, laptops, and other electronic devices
Other factors may contribute to trucking accidents, as well, including poor road conditions, driver inexperience, lack of training, unbalanced loads, improperly loaded cargo, and poor truck maintenance. Since many of these accidents may result in devastating injuries to others, individuals in this situation may want to consult with a truck accident lawyer in Western PA for information about legal recourse.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Truck Wrecks?
Every claim for damages must be filed before the legal time limit, called the statute of limitations, expires. If a claimant fails to file their suit in time, a court may refuse to consider their case.
According to 42 Pa.C.S. §5524, the statute of limitations for truck accident cases is two years. This means that if an injured individual does not file a lawsuit in civil court within two years from the date of the accident, they can be barred from receiving compensation. A defendant can also petition a court to dismiss a case if the plaintiff eventually does file a lawsuit after that time period has passed. A Western PA attorney could explain how the statute of limitations affects truck wreck cases.
Specific Dangers involved in Trucking Accidents
The economy around Western Pennsylvania still heavily relies on the fossil fuel industry. As a result, coal trucks, natural gas tankers, and pickup trucks are an ever-present sight on the area’s roads and highways. In addition to the common hazards that may affect the victims of commercial truck wrecks, vehicles that carry dangerous cargo can inflict even more severe injuries.
A coal truck lawyer could help a plaintiff receive appropriate compensation for these injuries. Coal is a highly flammable substance, and a collision that sparks a fire may lead to a massive conflagration. Similarly, natural gas is combustible, and a small fire may quickly lead to a large explosion. It is easy to see how any of these situations may result in life-threatening injuries.
Even if an incident does not involve direct contact with a tractor-trailer, coal truck, natural gas tanker, or commercial pickup truck, serious injuries may still occur. It is not uncommon for these vehicles to spill their cargo onto the road. This debris can puncture tires or force a driver to swerve, resulting in loss of control of their vehicle. Natural gas is normally invisible and will dissipate into the air. However, tankers transport a liquified version of this substance that may leave slick patches on the road prior to evaporation. Finally, pickup truck drivers who fail to secure their cargo properly may have objects fly out of the back of their beds and onto the road.
A truck wreck lawyer could help to provide an accurate measurement of the impact of an incident on a plaintiff’s life. It follows that they could demand the appropriate payments needed to set things right. However, no matter how serious a plaintiff’s injuries are, it is still necessary to prove that a defendant’s negligence was the source of the incident.
Are There any State-Specific Trucking Laws in Western PA?
Specific state and federal laws exist governing commercial truck drivers and trucking companies, which are important to understand for anyone injured in a crash. These laws include:
Background checks – Trucking companies are legally obligated to hire safe, licensed truck drivers. A trucking company should conduct a thorough background check and hire properly credentialed truck drivers.
Keeping accurate records – Such records include logbooks recording the times that a driver operates a truck, the exact contents of the truck, and when the truck has been serviced or repaired. Failure to keep accurate logs and records violates state and federal regulations.
Mandatory rest periods – Under federal law, truck drivers must take mandatory breaks to avoid fatigue and, ultimately, falling asleep at the wheel. Under Hours of Service (HOS) rules created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck drivers must take a 30-minute break every 8 hours, and can drive no more than 11 hours after at least 10 consecutive hours of being off duty.
Load limits – Tractor-trailers have strict weight limits. These limits exist to prevent rollover accidents, jackknife accidents, and other severe accidents often linked to overloaded trucks.
After a truck accident, you may be able to recover compensation from the responsible parties through a personal injury lawsuit. Items of compensation that may be available to you include past medical bills, future medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, past lost wages, future diminished earning capacity, scarring, and payment for pain and suffering. A Western PA truck accident lawyer could evaluate your situation thoroughly and work toward the best course of action to pursue compensation in your case.
Collisions with large commercial vehicles that are hauling dangerous substances place every person present on the site of the collision in serious jeopardy. Many of these substances, such as natural gas, can lead to fires or explosions that can inflict harsh burns or impact injuries. Additionally, if these substances leak onto the ground, other drivers may find themselves losing control and colliding with third-party vehicles.
Negligent truck drivers and their parent companies are responsible for any damage that their actions cause. A coal truck accident attorney could help to establish this negligence in a court of law. Still, pursuing a personal injury claim is often more challenging than it should be for those injured in catastrophic truck accidents. By having legal counsel at your side throughout the claims process, you may be more likely to receive an efficient and fair settlement of your claim. Contact a lawyer today.