Knowing what to do after a truck accident in Western, PA can be confusing. The truck accident lawyers at Marcus & Mack wants to help you cut through the confusion. The following are some frequently asked questions about Pennsylvania truck accidents.
If you don’t see your question or need immediate help, call us now at (814) 277-5664 for a free consultation.
What are the differences between car and truck accidents?
Trucking accidents typically result in more severe injuries than accidents involving two passenger vehicles. Big rigs can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, which creates an incredible amount of force when the truck crashes into a smaller vehicle, which may only weigh 3,000 pounds. Trucks also might be carrying flammable materials that can possibly explode in an accident. Insurance carriers for trucking companies also pose a challenge in accidents. Your attorney should understand how to address insurance company issues unique to truck accidents.
One key difference: Trucking companies and their insurance carriers often launch immediate investigations. They often send investigators to the scene of the accident within hours. Their goal is to find evidence that minimizes the fault of the driver or trucking company.
That’s why it’s important for victims to retain legal counsel quickly. Our Pennsylvania attorneys can investigate on your behalf. If necessary, we’re prepared to take the trucking company to court and file a truck accident lawsuit, if that’s the best solution to your legal issues. We understand trucking accidents and we’re not afraid to take strong legal action.
What Makes 18-wheeler and Tractor-Trailer Accidents Different?
Unlike accidents involving two cars, a truck accident may have multiple parties and insurance companies involved. They may be pointing fingers at each other, attempting to shift blame and minimize liability.
Liability may extend not only to the driver but the driver’s employer. An 18-wheeler accident investigation also would have to include the company that loaded the contents of the truck. Equipment defects also may be a contributing factor. If your truck accident involved a mechanical defect, you will likely need to take legal action against the truck manufacturer or those responsible for maintaining the truck. All potentially liable parties will likely have attorneys representing them.
Tracking down all these companies can be very difficult. Getting them to cooperate and fairly compensate you can be even harder.
These are just a few reasons why truck accident victims should contact an Indiana PA 18-wheeler accident attorney as soon as possible. Level the playing field.
Is the truck driver’s employer responsible?
In most cases, yes. Trucking companies are normally held responsible for accidents caused by their drivers. Many 18-wheelers you might see on a highway outside of Altoona or Johnstown are owned by large corporations, not independent truckers or owner-operators. These big companies are legally responsible for the actions of their drivers. An attorney can help you determine what role the trucking company played in the crash. For example, the trucking company typically is responsible for truck maintenance and hiring qualified drivers. The company may be responsible if the driver does not carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or has a history of traffic violations, including drunk driving.
Can I Negotiate Directly with a Trucking Company After a Crash?
Technically, yes. However, you will be at a disadvantage on your own. Trucking companies, their insurance carriers and the attorneys who represent them know exactly what to say and what questions to ask to keep the settlement as low as possible. The at-fault parties typically begin investigations hours after the accident. While victims are possibly being treated at hospitals, the trucking company’s representatives may be at the scene of the accident, scouring the area for evidence to limit liability.
At Marcus & Mack, we will fight for you right away. Call us as soon as possible after your truck accident at (814) 277-5664. We know all the tactics trucking companies and their lawyers often try to use to avoid accepting responsibility. If necessary, we’re prepared to take these companies to court in Cambria County or wherever your accident took place in Pennsylvania.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the industry. Truck drivers or companies with a history of violating FMCSA rules may face serious legal consequences in accidents.
In some cases, trucking companies pressure drivers to work long hours in violation of federally-mandated rest periods for commercial truck drivers. Our lawyers know that federal Hours of Service regulations must be followed. Trucking companies also have a legal obligation to keep accurate records and logs. Failing to do so is a serious violation and should be taken into account as part of your legal case against the trucking company.
What types of trucks are involved in PA accidents?
Given the wide range of companies in the state, many different types of commercial trucks are frequently involved in truck accidents in Pennsylvania.
Some of the most common trucks involved in accidents in the Keystone State include:
- Tractor trailers (18-wheelers)
- Delivery trucks
- Oil trucks
- Gas trucks
- Water trucks
- Moving trucks
- Coal trucks
In the case of accidents involving oil, gas and water trucks in Pennsylvania, you can learn more on our page devoted to Marcellus Shale truck accidents.
What kind of license does a commercial driver need?
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires commercial truck drivers to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). There are three different types of CDLs in Pennsylvania. In each case, the driver must be 18 years old to obtain a CDL.
The three types are:
- Class A CDL – This license applies to trucks weighing more than 26,001 pounds with trailers weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Anyone with this license can also drive a Class B or Class C truck. This license applies to large, 18-wheeler tractor-trailers.
- Class B CDL – This license applies to trucks weighing more than 26,001 pounds with trailers weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Anyone with this license can drive a Class C truck.
- Class C CDL – This license applies to trucks weighing less than 26,000 pounds. This license applies to smaller commercial trucks.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has many other rules and regulations concerning obtaining a CDL. Trucking companies have a legal obligation to make sure they hire qualified, licensed drivers. That’s why we regularly investigate the trucking company’s records after an accident to make sure they followed the rules.
Why do truck accidents cause such severe injuries?
It’s no mystery why large, commercial trucks cause serious injury accidents. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. In motorcycle accidents and those involving smaller cars, the consequences of a large truck being involved can be devastating. Big 18-wheelers also may be hauling heavy equipment that could break free in accidents and fall on other vehicles. Trucks also may be carrying potentially explosive material or hazardous chemicals.
Trucking companies and their insurance companies will often do everything they can to avoid paying accident victims the money they rightfully deserve. That’s not right. That’s why our aggressive Pennsylvania truck accident attorneys do everything we can to get people the money they deserve.
Do lawyers charge more money to handle truck accidents than regular car accidents?
No. If you hire Marcus & Mack, we won’t overcharge you to handle your case. A truck accident often is more expensive than a typical car accident case. But that doesn’t change our arrangement with clients. In fact, you won’t have to pay us anything if we don’t win your case. That’s because we work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only pay attorney’s fees if we obtain a financial settlement for you.
We work this way because we strongly believe people should only pay for a service that benefits them. We value your money and time. That’s also why we offer a free case evaluation to all potential clients.