Lancaster Tractor Trailer and Truck Accident Lawyers
Truck and Trailer Accident in Lancaster County
The majority of drivers don’t realize just how different large truck accidents are from “typical” car accidents. Large commercial truck accidents can cause extremely serious, even catastrophic injuries, which often result in permanent disability or death. The sheer size and weight of a large truck and trailer leave those in passenger vehicles or motorcycles simply unable to protect themselves in any meaningful way, in the event of a crash.
Because of this, the victims of a Lancaster truck and trailer accident can suffer not only severe physical injury but emotional and financial damages as well. An experienced Lancaster truck accident attorney can help ensure victims of truck accident collisions receive a fair settlement in the form of compensation for lost wages (current and future), medical expenses (current and future), pain and suffering and property damage. Unfortunately, Lancaster truck and trailer accident victims often find themselves fighting an uphill battle for compensation after their truck accident.
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our team of personal injury attorneys has the experience, knowledge, necessary resources, and compassion for your situation—everything you need for the best possible results. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster, PA 17603. We are also available to help those injured in Philly, you can contact our Philadelphia truck accident attorneys at (215) 228-0100.
Insurance Companies Lowball Trucking Accident Victims
Safely transporting goods across the state and across the country lies in the hands of truck drivers and the trucking industry laws. The trucking industry, however, often sets forth unrealistic goals for truck drivers in the form of quotas and quick delivery expectations. As a result, drivers may compromise the safety of others on the roadways by driving recklessly or disregarding regulations. When this occurs, the truck driver’s negligence may lead to a serious, even fatal roadway accident.
When this occurs, insurance companies are notoriously reluctant to pay what a claim is actually worth and may even attempt to lay blame on the victim. Large truck accidents can be particularly complex due to the fact there may be more than one defendant. Due to the nature of the injuries seen in a large truck accident as well as the likelihood of more than one defendant, it is crucial that you have a highly experienced Lancaster truck and trailer accident attorney by your side from the start
Trucking in Lancaster County
In 2015, the Morning Call reported that due to a nationwide shortage of long-haul truck drivers, trucking business owners were forced to raise the drivers’ pay by 8-10 percent, and “tweak” schedules which would allow drivers to spend more time at home. One company even outfitted the company’s trucks with driver-friendly features, such as better heating and air conditioning systems, a more comfortable seat, and even a small refrigerator to hold snacks and drinks. The shortage of drivers threatened an industry which transports nearly 70 percent of our nation’s freight. It also resulted in local business owners starting their own truck driving schools in order to find more drivers, one of those in York.
The majority of those in the truck driving programs are between the ages of 35 and 55. Often, a lost job or a desire for a change in career bring hopefuls to the truck driving programs. More than 90 percent of truck drivers are men, largely due to the inability of most truck drivers to be home every night. Rules which bar those younger than 21 from driving a large commercial truck tend to send those fresh out of high school into the service industry or construction jobs. The median age for long-haul drivers is 49, and with the long hours behind the wheel and days away from home, even with raises in pay, the job tends to have limited appeal. Today, Lancaster County has a number of truck driving schools, including CDL Educational Training in Lancaster, John’s Driving School in Ephrata, Lancaster County Career and Technology Center in Mount Joy. There are many more commercial truck driving schools in neighboring counties.
According to Fox 43 Morning News, Lancaster County saw hundreds of trucks hit the local county roads to help children battling critical illnesses in 2019 during the 29th annual Mother’s Day Truck Convoy—the largest convoy and fundraiser benefiting the Make-a-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware and Susquehanna Valley organization. This annual tradition featured over 500 tractor-trailer trucks parading through 26 miles of Lancaster County.
Large Truck and Trailer Accidents in Lancaster County Can Be Catastrophic
According to a 2017 penndot.gov report, 7,367 large commercial trucks across the state of Pennsylvania were involved in accidents in 2017. Of those large commercial truck accidents in 2017, there were 145 fatalities. Further statistics regarding large truck and trailer accidents in the state of Pennsylvania include:
- The vast majority of vehicle failure collisions were tire/wheel related, followed closely by brake-related collisions, then power train failures, unsecured trailers, overloaded trailers, steering system failures, suspension issues and trailer hitch issues or improper towing.
- Large commercial trucks were most likely to crash on a state highway, followed by interstate collisions, collisions on local roads and turnpike collisions.
- Since large trucks often carry hazardous materials, a large truck collision can also involve dealing with these materials. In 2017, 38 large truck crashes on an interstate involved hazardous materials, 98 large truck crashes on a state highway involved hazardous materials, 13 large truck crashes on a turnpike involved hazardous materials, and 18 large truck crashes on a local Pennsylvania road involved hazardous materials.
- Although the driver and passengers in the passenger vehicle are more likely to die than those in the truck, there were 27 fatalities for those inside the large truck, all of whom were drivers.
Lancaster County is one of the ten most populated counties and is among the top ten counties with the most miles of local roads and streets. Unfortunately, Lancaster County is also among the top ten Pennsylvania counties with the most-reported traffic crashes and the most-reported traffic fatalities. Lancaster County’s location between Philadelphia and the western part of Pennsylvania has resulted in an increase in roads and freeways over the past few years. Major roads, such as the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, PA 10, US 30 and US 222 have all seen large commercial truck crashes every year.
Factors Involved in Truck and Trailer Accidents in Lancaster County
There are numerous factors involved in large commercial truck accidents; some of the most common factors include the following:
- Fatigue – fatigue among truck drivers is believed to be responsible for a significant number of truck accidents. The more deliveries a truck driver makes, the higher profits the trucking company will realize, which places truck drivers under tremendous pressure. When a truck driver nods off, he or she can swerve into another lane, running off the road, hitting other, smaller vehicles in the process. Exhausted drivers are much more likely to make serious errors in judgment, such as improper braking, misjudging critical distances, turning too sharply, or driving beyond a safe speed limit. Driving on busy freeways requires constant attention and alertness, and tired truck drivers are simply not able to give the cars around them the attention they deserve.
- Driving Impaired – even if a truck driver has only had a beer or two and is not technically over the legal limit of .08%, impairment behind the wheel takes place at much lower levels. Reaction time can be significantly slowed, and overall driving performance impaired by the driver having a drink or two. For this reason, the Federal government has passed legislation which prohibits commercial truck drivers from driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than .04%. The bottom line is that a truck driver, by virtue of the 30,000 pounds of metal he’s driving, is much more likely to kill and severely injure any passenger car he comes in contact with. Truck drivers must be held to a higher standard, and, in reality, any alcohol consumption at all by a truck driver before he gets behind the wheel is too much.
- Distracted driving – this is just as much a problem for truck drivers as for those in passenger vehicles. Truck drivers spend many hours on the roadways and can look for distractions to pass the time. Cellphones, GPS devices, and other infotainment systems can distract a truck driver from the task of driving. Further, to save time, many truck drivers eat full meals while driving down the road.
- Improper training and negligent hiring – this is an issue in many truck accidents. Trucking companies have a duty to ensure their drivers are adequately trained prior to allowing them to drive. The trucking company must also ensure that they hire only qualified drivers, and that extensive background checks are done prior to hiring.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Lancaster Truck Accident?
One of the most difficult aspects of an accident involving a large drug is that there may be various parties who could be held liable. Determining liability will often go much farther than determining actual fault. In most vehicle accidents, after you determine fault, you can typically assume that the at-fault party is also going to be liable for the incident. However, that may not be the case with the truck accident.
Some of the most common parties that are held liable in the aftermath of a truck crash include the following:
- The truck driver. This is perhaps the party that most people think would be held liable after a truck crash, particularly if the negligence of the truck driver is determined to be the cause of the crash. The driver may end up holding all of the liability for the incident if they are the owner-operator of the truck.
- The trucking company. If a truck driver is working for a motor carrier company and they cause a crash, then the trucking company will likely hold liability. In general, the theory of vicarious liability holds that an employer can be held liable for the actions of their employee if the employee is operating within the scope of their duties when the incident occurs.
- The truck manufacturer. If a truck is defective, and that defect leads to an accident, the manufacturer of that vehicle could be held liable for any injuries or other losses.
- A parts manufacturer. Often, it is not an entire defective truck that causes a crash, but rather a defective part. Parts manufacturer could be held responsible if an accident occurs.
- Maintenance teams. It is a responsibility of a truck owner or operator to have their vehicle regularly inspected and maintained. If a maintenance company or team fails to adequately maintain the vehicle, they could be held liable if an accident occurs because of this flawed inspection or maintenance.
What to Do After a Truck Accident in Lancaster
There are various steps you can take in the immediate aftermath of a truck crash in Lancaster. This includes:
- Calling 911. The police need to come to the scene of any large truck crash to conduct a preliminary investigation and determine fault if they are able to do so.
- Seeking immediate medical care. Any person involved in a truck crash must seek immediate medical care. Even if the injuries do not seem major, a doctor needs to conduct an evaluation.
- Obtaining evidence. If it is safe to do so at the scene of the crash, an uninjured person should use a phone or another camera to take photographs of vehicle damage, causes of the crash, injuries, traffic and weather conditions, and more. Additionally, the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash need to be gathered.
- Reporting the incident to your insurer. Any person involved in the crash will need to report the incident to their insurer as soon as possible. There is no need to go into much detail during an initial report. All the insurance carrier needs to know is that an incident happened, that the crash involved a large commercial truck, and the names and contact information of others involved.
- Continuing medical care. It is crucial that any person involved in the crash continue their medical care until their doctor says they have reached maximum medical improvement. A settlement cannot be reached with other parties involved until medical care has been concluded.
- Contacting an attorney. Truck crash victims should speak to a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help them file their claim, negotiate with all parties involved, and obtain maximum compensation.
Our Lancaster County Truck Accident Injury Lawyers Are There When You Need Us
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster County truck accident attorneys understand the devastation a truck accident can have on an individual and their loved ones, particularly if the truck accident results in wrongful death. We understand that those injured in a truck collision need help financially to help pay for medical expenses and lost wages related to the truck accident.
Our injury attorneys are proud to present all injured Lancaster County residents, including those living in Lancaster, Ephrata, Elizabethtown, Columbia, Lititz, Millersville, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Leola, New Holland, Manheim, East Petersburg, Akron, Denver, Maytown, and Reamstown. We believe you deserve justice following your truck accident and, to that end, we offer a free initial consultation and review of your case, providing our services on a contingency basis. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster, PA, 17603. We are ready to help you during this difficult time.