West Chester, PA is located along many trucking routes through Eastern Pennsylvania. With close access to Routes 202, 322, and 30, and with access to I-76, I-95, and West Chester Pike, trucks often drive in the West Chester area and throughout Chester County. Accidents involving large trucks, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers can be extremely dangerous for victims driving smaller passenger cars and SUVs.
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in West Chester, contact our West Chester, PA truck accident attorneys today. Reiff and Bily’s injury lawyers fight for the victims of serious truck accidents and work to get them financial compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (215) 274-0072.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Truck accidents are often more dangerous for the other drivers on the road than for the truck driver. When a truck is involved in a deadly accident, the injured victims are usually the drivers and passengers of the other vehicles, and the truck driver often walks away with minor to moderate injuries. What is it about big trucks that cause such hazards for the other drivers on the road?
One of the primary issues is the size and weight of the truck. Because 18-wheelers are so long, it makes it difficult for drivers to see around them, and their blind spots are often quite large. However, despite knowing that their blind spots are such a problem, a truck driver’s failure to keep a proper lookout is a contributing cause in a high number of accidents each year. Additionally, the truck’s weight makes it more difficult to stop and slow down. With trucks often weighing up to 80,000 pounds, they are approximately 15- to 20-times heavier than a passenger sedan and require about 15- to 20-times the stopping distance.
Trucks are often poorly loaded or overloaded with cargo, contributing to accidents. If a truck’s trailer is improperly loaded, the trailer is more likely to fishtail during transit. If a driver is unable to control the fishtailing motion, the trailer and cab could swerve into other lanes, causing accidents. Fishtailing can also worsen into a jackknife accident, where the truck folds in on itself and crashes, potentially rolling over or otherwise harming other cars and drivers. With many trucks carrying far more than their legal capacity, these dangers and the dangers from heavy trucks are exacerbated.
The final most common reason trucks are so dangerous is because of the drivers. Truck drivers are human, and too many hours on the road can lower their attentiveness and reaction speed. This can lead to more serious accidents that a more alert driver could have avoided. Drivers may even resort to the “buzz” of alcohol or turn to drug use to keep them awake, which further harms their ability to drive safely.
Suing for Truck Accident Injuries in Pennsylvania
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident in PA, you may be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injury. If the truck driver caused the accident, you will need to include them in the lawsuit, but you may be entitled to damages paid by the insurance company or the trucking company.
Trucking companies are commonly responsible for the damages that their truck drivers cause under a “vicarious liability” theory called “respondeat superior.” This rule says that an employer can be held accountable for an employee’s errors if the employee was working in the scope of their duties when the negligence occurred. This means that most truck accidents would allow you, the victim, to hold the trucking company accountable for their driver’s errors.
Trucking companies may also be responsible in their own right. The trucking company, as opposed to the driver, often maintains the vehicles. This means that any accidents caused by faulty tires, improper maintenance, or other equipment issues should be the trucking company’s fault. Similarly, the trucking company is the one who hires and screens its drivers. If the driver has a history of serious traffic violations or DUI, it may be unsafe to put that driver on the road. A trucking company can be held partially liable for a crash if they negligently hired a dangerous driver or negligently retained a dangerous driver after known issues.
Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to carry insurance. Any driver on the road must have auto insurance under PA law, and commercial drivers like truck drivers are required to carry commercial auto insurance. This means that, even if the trucking company cannot be joined in the lawsuit for some reason, the driver’s insurance should be able to cover damages as it would in any other vehicle accident.
Talk to an attorney before accepting any settlement money from the trucking company or an insurance company. Accepting these damages can block your ability to sue in court where you could potentially claim higher damages.
Truck Accident Lawyers in West Chester Offering Free Consultations
After a serious truck accident, talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer. Representing truck accident victims and car accident victims has been a part of our legal practice for decades, and our attorneys work diligently to get our clients the compensation they need for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To set up a free legal consultation, contact Reiff and Bily today at (215) 274-0072.