The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports that the number of heavy truck accidents in 2015 was the highest since 2011. And, for reasons we discuss below, many of these are fatal. In Pennsylvania alone, 175 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes last year. If you have ever been in a truck accident, you know the seriousness of such a catastrophe. Victims who walk away without a scratch are lucky. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be confused as to what you should do after the accident or you may have questions regarding whether or not you will be compensated for your injuries and damages. You may feel overwhelmed because you are in pain and you are not sure where to turn.
In an attempt to keep Pennsylvania highways safer, we have compiled the following FAQs pertaining to truck accidents.
What are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
According to PennDot, most of the heavy truck accidents that occurred in Pennsylvania in 2015 were caused by vehicle failures that were related to brakes, tires and wheels, and overloaded or unsecured trailers.
Any of the following common causes of truck accidents could lead to unnecessary risks and a motorist’s inability to react to hazards on Pennsylvania roadways:
- Driver Error: According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, driver error is more likely to cause a truck accident than any other factor. This occurs when an operator is misinformed of his or her proximity to other cars, with blind spots contributing significantly against cognition. Braking too late or failing to predict another motorist’s behaviors can also contribute. Distracted driving is a huge factor within this category, whether the driver of the truck or the driver of a smaller vehicle is texting while driving, eating, or talking with passengers.
- Driver impairment: A driver is impaired in some manner, whether it is lack of sleep or using drugs or alcohol.
- Weather conditions: Snow, rain, ice, and even wind can contribute to bad road conditions and cause a truck accident.
- Lack of compliance: This could be a truck not being inspected or a driver working beyond the regulated amount of hours allowed. When trucking companies do not follow the rules and regulations and remain in compliance, it increases the chances of truck accidents tremendously.
Any Suggestions for Preventing a Truck Accident?
Trucks typically cause much more damage and more severe injuries than when small automobile accidents occur, and often, the results of truck accidents are catastrophic. Semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and other commercial trucks often weigh 10- to 20-times or more than the smaller vehicles they encounter in accidents, which is the main reason for the tragic outcomes that we see.
There are things you can do, however, to attempt to prevent truck accidents. Always be sure to stay within view of a truck’s mirrors, allowing the operator of the vehicle to be aware of your vehicle’s presence, keeping wary of the blind spots at the corners of the truck. If you ever encounter a truck that is slowly swerving side to side, avoid it at all costs, as the driver may be drowsy or handicapped in some other manner. Pay close attention to any signs on trucks, as they may inform you of wide turns or oversize loads, while others give warning as to not follow them.
What Do I Do After a Truck Accident?
First of all, do not accuse the other driver of causing this accident, whether you are in the right or not. Rather than openly accusing him or her of blatantly causing the accident, and putting yourself in a position of disadvantage, avoid the topic. This allows you to reassess the accident on your own time later, in much more of a favorable position, rather than putting you on the spot in a time of duress. This also gives you and your attorney more options for attempting to claim a settlement with less pressure, and rids of any possibility of introducing contradicting statements against yourself in your case.
Why are Truck Accident Injuries Typically So Serious?
The average truck composed of tandem axles weighs around 17 tons. That is a grand total of 34,000 pounds! The average car, on the other hand, only weighs two tons, or 4,000 pounds. Any collision between these two vehicles is anticipated to be catastrophic. The driver of the smaller vehicle is put at much more of a risk considering the position of the car’s cabin, leaving it easily prone to the mere force of an impact from a truck. If you have ever been involved in an accident where a truck hit you, you will know without a doubt that your life was put in jeopardy at the hands of another’s mistakes.
How Much is My Truck Accident Worth?
This depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Was any time lost from work? How severe are the the injuries that were sustained in the accident? What are the costs for medical treatments? It is highly suggested to contact a Pennsylvania truck accident attorney as soon as possible to determine your settlement’s value. Another important fact to keep in mind is that no two truck accidents are the same, therefore it is not recommended to believe what you hear from people who have previously received settlements for accidents.
If you need a Pennsylvania truck accident attorney, call the law office of Solnick & Associates today at (215) 481-9979.
(image courtesy of Pierre André)