Commercial Truck Accident FAQ
Any motor vehicle accident can be a traumatic experience, but crashes involving commercial vehicles have the potential to cause exponentially more harm. Following these accidents, victims can be remarkably confused as to what they should do afterward.
Ciccarelli Law Offices represents the victims of commercial truck accidents all over the greater West Chester area. This section of our website is intended to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding semi-truck collisions in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in a commercial truck accident, you can receive full answers to your more specific questions when you call (610) 719-3190 or complete an online contact form for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions in West Chester Commercial Truck Accidents
- How is a truck accident different from a regular car accident?
- What should I do if I was involved in a commercial truck accident?
- What are the most common causes of semi-truck accidents?
- What kinds of compensation might I be able to recover?
- How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
- Who would be sued after a commercial truck accident?
- Will I be able to recover compensation if I was partially at fault for the accident?
- What regulations for truck drivers might factor into my case?
- The insurance company has made me a pretty generous offer. Why should I pay a lawyer instead of just accepting that settlement?
- How much will it cost to hire an attorney?
The average passenger vehicle typically weighs less than 5,000 pounds, but commercial trucks are often loaded up to the federal weight limit of 80,000 pounds. This amount may be more if the truck has an oversize or overweight permit.
Additionally, semi-trucks are typically more than a dozen feet tall and 70 to 80 feet long. All of these measurements not only factor into basic safety concerns such as increased stopping distances but also lead to increased damage when a tractor-trailer is involved in a wreck.
The occupants of passenger vehicles are much more likely to sustain serious injuries in accidents involving commercial trucks than other traditional automobiles.
After any collision involving a semi-truck, the first thing you should do is seek medical care. Even if you believe that you were not harmed, many serious injuries do not display symptoms until many days or even weeks later.
After that, you should try to adhere to the following steps or have a loved one take the steps if you are unable because of medical care:
- Report the accident to your insurance company;
- Avoid speaking to any representatives of the trucking company’s claims adjuster or insurance company, and refuse to sign anything that is presented to you without first having it reviewed by legal counsel;
- Call the police and provide as many details as possible when filing an accident report;
- Get the names, address, and contact information for any and all witnesses;
- Take as many photographs as possible (no lawyer will ever tell you that you took too many pictures); and
- Contact an attorney in West Chester, PA, focused on personal injury cases involving an accident with a commercial vehicle.
Every tractor trailer crash is different, and some accidents have multiple factors that led to the wreck. A few of the most common causes of commercial truck crashes include, but are not limited to:
- Brake Failure;
- Poor Maintenance;
- Excess Weight;
- Driver Fatigue;
- Jackknife Accidents;
- Underride Accidents;
- Poor Weather and Road Conditions;
- Distracted Driving; and
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
Your compensation will depend on the nature of your injuries. Generally, compensation in most truck accident cases accounts for medical bills, lost income (past and future), pain and suffering, and other damages.
If your loved one was killed in a semi-truck crash, you could be entitled to compensation for loss of financial support, loss of consortium, funeral expenses, and other damages.
Under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524, people have two years to commence a civil action to recover damages for their injuries or for the death of a loved one caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another party.
One of the biggest differences between tractor-trailer collisions and traditional passenger vehicle crashes is that accidents involving semi-trucks can have more than one liable party. One or more of the following parties could be responsible for damages in your case:
- The truck driver;
- The driver’s employer;
- The owner of the tractor unit (the part of the truck that the driver operates the vehicle in, also called the cab or rig);
- The owner of the semi-trailer;
- The owner of the freight;
- A manufacturer of any part of the commercial truck;
- A maintenance company; and/or
- The driver and owner of another vehicle.
When a person is partly at fault for an accident, it is referred to as contributory negligence. Accident victims can still recover damages even if it is determined that they shared some fault for the collision.
If you are found to be substantially at fault, damages can be limited or you could possibly be barred from recovering.
The trucking industry is subject to numerous regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Violations of any of the following regulations could impact an accident case:
- The number of hours the driver had recently worked;
- The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) [commercial drivers can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for a BAC of 0.04 or higher as opposed to the 0.08 BAC limit for drivers of passenger vehicles]; or
- Whether the truck exceeded federal weight limits.
The insurance company has made me a pretty generous offer. Why should I pay a lawyer instead of just accepting that settlement?
While the initial amount that an insurance company may offer sounds adequate enough to cover your losses, many people forget about several of the additional costs that they will bear later on—costs that a trucking company will not be responsible for once a settlement has been accepted.
Many accident victims require multiple return visits to hospitals for additional therapy and rehabilitation. These visits can all require additional time away from work. Several accident victims are unable to return to work at all.
Again, you should refuse to speak to any insurance company until you have legal representation. Representatives for the insurance companies of the commercial trucks trick people into downplaying the severity of their injuries or making other statements that are used against the victims later on to reduce the amount of compensation they ultimately receive. An attorney can deal with the insurance company on your behalf and fight to get you the compensation you need for all of your current and future needs.
Ciccarelli Law Offices represents clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay us nothing unless our lawyers get you a financial award.
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, you can have our personal injury attorneys in West Chester, PA, review your case. Call (610) 692-8700 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Contact Our PA Personal Injury Lawyers
We are a team of Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers our main offices located in West Chester, Chester County Pennsylvania and serving clients throughout the greater Philadelphia Metro Area including Lancaster County, Berks County, Bucks County, Delaware County and Montgomery County. If your family has been victimized by the negligence of another and you are seeking a free initial consult on you rights and possible claims, it is crucial you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania Injury lawyers in order to ensure your rights are protected and to review all of your legal options with you.
The Injury attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been injured in accidents. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients throughout Pennsylvania including but not limited to in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Lancaster, Media, Harrisburg, Reading, Philadelphia, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.