Tragically, the number of commercial trucking accidents is on the rise in the United States. There is no question the risk presented by commercial vehicles such as fright carriers and eighteen-wheelers is great and often deadly. A big rig truck’s massive size and weight creates an unacceptable danger to other vehicles on the road when not properly operated or maintained.
If you have been injured in a commercial vehicle accident and need a truck accident lawyer in Philadelphia, the Wieand Law Firm can help. We can help determine the factual cause of trucking accident based on a thorough examination of the evidence and witness interviews. To prove your case we work with trucking experts who will sort through all the details of the crash uncover any violations and negligence on the part of the truck driver and trucking company.
Hire an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney
Proving truck driver negligence is no easy task for someone without intimate knowledge of trucking regulations. The Wieand Law Firm has the legal knowledge and experience to win tough trucking accident cases. We know the tricks insurance companies use to try and settle with truck accident victims for drastically less money than they deserve. We won’t stop fighting until you are fully compensated for the harm caused.
If your involved in a truck accident, never negotiate with an insurance company, trucking company or truck owner before speaking to an experienced truck accident lawyer. The Wieand Law Firm can help you evaluate the value of your case and get you maximum compensation for your injuries. We work hard to hold the parties at fault accountable for the injuries and harm caused by their negligent or reckless driving.
Call the Wieand Law Firm at 1(800) 481-5206 for a completely free and confidential legal consultation. We know the laws that trucking companies need to follow and can quickly determine if the driver or trucking company violated federal or state regulations.
Causes of Commercial Trucking Crashes
Trucking accidents may arise due to a variety of unsafe circumstances, conditions and behaviors. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
DUI / Drugs / Alcohol
Its common knowledge that driving while impaired due to alcohol and drugs can alter perception, cognitive behavior, coordination and attention that is needed for safe driving. A semi or large commercial truck speeding down a road with an impaired truck driver behind the wheel is a frightening accident waiting to happen. If a commercial truck driver injures or kills a person while they have alcohol or drugs in their system, a claimant can seek punitive damages for the gross negligence and recklessness.
Truck Driver Fatigue
According to the Department truck driver fatigue is a leading factor of the roughly 4,000 fatal large truck accidents that occur each year. Driver fatigue can be caused by any number of reasons, including lack of sleep, driving too many hours without adequate time off, driving too many consecutive hours and pressure to deliver loads.
In response to the epidemic of truck drivers working while tired and fatigued, in December of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a new rule to stop fatigued driving. The rule was generally comprised of two new requirements. One, drivers must take a 30-minute rest break within the first 8 hours of their shift so they can stay alert on the road; and drivers are required “restart” once every seven days. Under the 34 hour restart rule a driver is required to have at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The purpose these changes was to reduce the average maximum week a driver could work from 82 hours to 70 hours.
Truck Tire Blowouts / Tread Burn
Tire blow outs are a common cause of truck accidents. Many times tire failure on a semi, big rig, or 18-wheeler truck results from the trucker drivers negligent failure to do careful inspection and make needed repairs. A truck’s tires are a critical part of its equipment. Before a truck driver starts a job, whether it will be a long distance haul or short trip, the tires should be inspected. Some of the most common tire issues experienced by truck drivers include: burnt treads (tread burn), tread separation, tire blowouts, under-inflated tires, bent rims and overheated tires.
Poor Truck Maintenance
Truck accidents caused by inadequate truck maintenance are usually preventable. It is the responsibility of commercial truck drivers and trucking businesses to ensure that their commercial trucks. All commercial truck drivers must follow the regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations mandate that trucks must undergo a series of inspections to ensure vehicle safety before a driver starts a job. It is negligent for trucking carriers that knowingly fail to maintain their vehicles properly.
When a huge truck is barreling down the road at a high speed it is a terrifying accident accident waiting to happen as large trucks cannot turn or stop as quickly as smaller vehicles on the road. The US Department of Labor data shows that large trucks exceeding the speed limit was a factor in 22 percent of the fatal crashes.
Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on highways and Philadelphia roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” This includes driving behaviors such as following too closely, unsafe lane changes and speeding which can be hazardous to truck drivers and other vehicles using the road.
Overloaded Trucks or Trailers
A truck has a maximum design weight which is known as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The GVWR rating can never be more than the combined ratings of all of the truck’s axles, usually the GVWR is less. A number of factors, including allowances for various load placements, frame rating, powertrain rating, suspension component ratings, and the foundation brake rating, can impact the GVWR of a truck.
If a truck is overloaded with cargo is may cause a danger for other vehicles on the road as the items could fall off the truck.
Inadequate Reflective Tape
Many truck accidents occur at night as a result of inadequate or insufficient reflective tape, which does not allow the truck to be easily seen by other vehicles.
Improperly Loaded Trucks / Loads that Shift Weight
An overloaded or improperly loaded truck can cause a catastrophic accident on the road. Overloaded trucks, or trucks that are not loaded according to federal regulations, can cause a serious semi-truck accident in a number of ways. For example, the load could add extra weight to an already over-sized truck causing top-heaviness and increasing the risk of jackknifing or overturning around curves. The cargo in overloaded or improperly-loaded trucks is more likely to shift while in motion. When trucks are improperly loaded, cargo is more likely to fall off, leaving debris to rest in the roadway, or even falling directly onto another vehicle.
This is rare, as trucks have two separate braking systems, but it does occasionally occur because of improper maintenance, installation, or overuse of the brakes. In addition, if the truck is not properly loaded, additional pressure is put on the braking system. An air brake malfunction may occur when a driver applies too much pressure to the brakes when traveling downhill.
Under ride can be the most devastating type of truck accident and is the cause of the most fatalities. Under ride occurs when a smaller automobile collides with a truck and, due to the difference in height, continues under the truck as the top of the car is sheared off. Under ride may cause decapitation of passenger vehicle and sometimes extreme head trauma.
Federal Truck Loading Laws
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented a number of specific truck loading laws that must be followed by all Philadelphia, Pennsylvania truck drivers and trucking companies. The purpose of these federal trucking regulations is to reduce the number of truck accidents that are caused by shifting cargo or falling debris from commercial vehicles operating in interstate commerce. These regulations include:
- Cargo that is likely to roll must be restrained by wedges, chocks, or cradles
- Cargo must be firmly secured on or within a vehicle by structures equipped to hold it, including dunnage or dunnage bags; tiedowns; and shoring bars
- Specific minimum requirements for truck tiedown restraints
- Commodity-specific Securement Requirements (such as logs, heavy vehicles, metal coils, concrete pipe, and automobiles)
- Special Purpose Vehicle requirements (vehicles carrying items such as heavy machinery, crane booms, steel or concrete beams, and other objects that require special restraining systems)
If an accident occurs because a truck driver violates loading regulations it can be held liable for damages that ensue. For a free and confidential consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm at 1(800) 481-5206.
The Wieand Law Firm practices throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We are proud to serve all of Pennsylvania including Berks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, as well as the New Jersey areas of Pennsauken, Gloucester and Camden NJ.
Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.